In November, we celebrated our one year pod-aversary and released an episode on the wellness industry called You're Welcome for the Free Fitspo. Our friend Chrissy from Mindful Mommy Nutrition weighed in with extremely thoughtful, and more importantly professional, feedback. We learned a ton from this and couldn't keep it just for ourselves, so Chrissy, over to you!
Thank you for bringing up this incredibly important topic!
I think part of the problem is that everyone is so interested in a quick fix rather than really investigating their current methods and what needs to change with a professional, and finding a long-term solution. The wellness market is absolutely scamming us, though being “well” itself is not a scam.
The wellness market:
Random nutritionists who have had no nutrition education whatsoever and call themselves “nutritionists”–> (instead look for Registered Dietitians/Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, who actually have a nutrition degree and are credentialed).
That is not to say that some of these diets don't have real applications, but they are often misunderstood and turned into products that are marketed towards the general population when they shouldn’t be. Also there are definitely nutritionists out there that have nutrition education and even have certifications in “Integrative and Functional Nutrition”, but you have to be very careful when taking advice from people who are not credentialed, and look into their certification claims.
Caroline- your point about how we have overridden our bodies abilities to self-regulate is so right. We absolutely have disordered eating and obsess over everything we put in our mouths. We try to manipulate so much through diet and exercise that we forget to tune in to what our body is actually telling us. How many people go on a diet and are hungry all the time and think “well, this is just how I’m supposed to feel because I’m dieting”. And often in these situations to “fix” our bodies, we are reinforcing a negative relationship with food, and will rebound to a higher weight than we were before- which also has to do with our body simply trying to survive!
I want to talk about genetics for a second. The genome takes a very very very long time to change. Essentially our genome has not changed since we were hunter-gathers, so it hasn’t caught up to where we are now. Consider when we were hunter-gatherers, and we woke up in the morning and had to go out to find food. We would expend a certain amount of energy for whatever we chose whether it be searching for plant foods or hunting an animal (which take totally different amounts of energy) and then we would replace those calories burned with the calories that we just acquired (animal food being more calorically dense than plant food, typically). Then consider natural selection- People who could not maintain a heavier weight in those times would not survive. So those with the genes that allowed them to maintain a heavier weight are the ones that survived and reproduced and got us to where we are today. But- food is 1000x more readily available to us now- and our genes have not yet changed to adapt to this circumstance- which may be why so many people struggle to maintain a healthy weight, along with disordered eating patterns.
Also I want to commend you for allowing your kids to self-regulate how much they eat- this is so important in preventing eating disorders!
Hannah- you’re totally right that people are different and that each individuals body has different needs. For the record, keto was developed and is used to treat epilepsy and seizures- and isn’t recommended for everyone because it can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Also thank you for your efforts to take care of our planet, unlike Caroline. Hahaha.
ALSO, let me say that your weight is a horrible indicator of your health. I REPEAT, YOUR WEIGHT IS A HORRIBLE INDICATOR OF YOUR HEALTH!!!!! (see above description of how the heavier people got us to where we are today, haha)
If you are interested in micronutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, or what ratio of macros you should be eating FOR YOUR BODY, I might suggest that you test with a credentialed provider- with the right type of test- rather than guess and spend money on trial-and-error. For example, an MD may check your micronutrient levels in your blood, but typically these tests only look at a 24 hour “recall” of a vitamin you’ve consumed (or produced if we’re talking Vit D), rather than look at if your body has been deficient in a micronutrient for an extended period of time.
At the end of the day, wellness can be very simple-if you feel fine, have good health markers (cholesterol, blood pressure, sleep well, generally feel well) and don’t want to go more in depth with determining where you’re at- there is nothing wrong with that! You know your body better than anyone else.
But if you want to take it to the next level, you certainly can- just don’t fall for the fads, and do it the right way- maybe find a trusted provider rather than try to go it on your own, because it can get complicated as our bodies are SO complex (hormones, gut health, etc.). Just be cautious that you don’t develop disordered eating based on whatever you choose to implement with your provider, and if you do start to feel obsessive over what you’re eating, discuss this with your provider (or a counselor! #supportmentalhealth).
I don’t believe it’s overly expensive to eat healthy, I just think we have to change our perspective. Brown rice, beans, spinach, very affordable. Meat: higher price tag. People need nutrition education with cooking methods for fruits and vegetables that they aren’t familiar with, in order to be able to utilize these properly and select cheaper fruits & veggies that they’re able to use.
Side note; American Heart Association has a program that I’ve participated in for a few years now- “Kids Cook with Heart”- that teaches middle-school aged, low-income children easy, budget-friendly cooking methods with nutrition education. It’s a four week program, and the kids participate in a cook-off at the end, and it’s just such a rewarding experience. I highly encourage anyone who’s interested to get involved with AHA. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Break the cycle: Stop counting calories! Listen to your body! Eat fruits and vegetables! Move ya body! Drink water! Stop labeling foods as good and bad! Eat and enjoy the cookie/cake/pastry!
A couple IG RDNs you might consider following that are pro-listen-to-your-body/healing disordered eating are @megcarberrdn and @trustyourbodyproject.
I could go on and on. Thanks for reading my opinions, and have a happy Friday!
Thanks so much for this input Chrissy! Give her a follow @mindfulmommynutrition on Instagram.