I’m sure whoever invented the concept of ‘wellness’ did it with good intentions. I mean, to be ‘well’ generally means being healthy in body, mind, and spirit, so theoretically, wellness is a wonderful goal to aspire to.
But wellness in 2019 isn’t what it presumably set out to be. The term has been co-opted by quacks, celebrities, and influencers whose interests lie more with making money than with helping people achieve optimal health.
It has devolved into a privileged culture of charcoal detoxes, crystal-infused water bottles, celery juice, and $200 sweatpants that are all somehow necessary for our ‘self-care.’ It has become a new religion, one in which ‘eating clean’ is the path to righteousness.
The Wellness Industry
Just in case you were wondering, the wellness industry is now worth $4.2 trillion dollars, and yes, I said ‘trillion.’ That doesn’t mean that all of that revenue comes from sales of vibrational stickers and mushroom tea, but it’s a huge number nonetheless, and it’s growing. Wellness culture is here to stay.
Wellness culture isn’t all dark corners and shadiness. Some of it is good, especially the parts that encourage us to put ourselves first, to take a break, and to nourish ourselves properly. But now even the idea of ‘self care’ seems disingenuous, having been overused by people trying to sell something.
Their claims and lies about the power of wellness can be really destructive to our emotional wellbeing, and to our wallets.
Here are the top 5 nutrition lies that wellness culture tries to sell us.
Your body needs help to perform normal functions.
Cleanses, detoxes, methylation, and glutathione spray (ahem Dr Hyman).
Sure, good nutrition is a must, but these ‘extras’ that wellness sells us as ‘essentials’ are total BS. Seriously, you do NOT need an IV vitamin infusion.
Wellness culture thrives off of the belief that we can’t trust our bodies to work the way they’re supposed to; that everyone needs to hack their system to make it better and more efficient, to clean it, to boost it.
The truth is that the body isn’t a car engine that needs to be cleaned. All it needs to is be fed and watered with a reasonably nourishing diet, and treated to some activity.
Here’s a tweet sent to me by someone in the wellness industry, doing what ‘wellness gurus’ do: take a slice of truth and twist it into something that he can make money from. He admits that alkaline diets don’t change the body’s pH, but we still need them to ‘take the stress off of’ our body’s systems.
This guy sells alkaline diet plans, of course. His argument is completely false, yet it sounds ‘science-y’ enough that the layperson might believe it. At any rate, the underlying message that he’s throwing out there is that our bodies can’t do what they’re meant to do, without special diets and treatments.
Beware of people like him, who use their own ‘science’ to sell you things.
You have some sort of mystery disease.
Wellness culture loves to scare people in order to push product. It thrives on the suggestion that maybe you have some scary disease that you didn’t know about – maybe a ‘sensitivity,’ candida, or adrenal fatigue.
There aren’t legitimate tests for most of the conditions that wellness says we’re walking around with, and therefore you can’t measure outcomes after a supposed ‘treatment.’ This is the perfect situation for convincing people that they have something bad happening to them, and then selling them a cure for it.
Lots of people will say they feel so much better after their colonic/chelation/infrared sauna, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of the time, this is the placebo effect and/or the effect of changing their diet from low-quality to more nourishing foods. It has nothing to do with the treatment they did.
Hey, the placebo effect is a powerful thing, and let’s be real: if something isn’t dangerous and it makes you feel good, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it.
The issue? Thinking you have a condition that you probably don’t have can be a cause of some major anxiety, and these treatments/supplements can be expensive. Also, it’s never good to be swindled into believing something that’s not true, especially when it’s about your body.
So do your homework before you accept anything that a random naturopath/nutritionist/health coach/trainer etc. tells you.
Celebrities and spirit-talkers give great nutrition advice.
Anthony Williams is the perfect example of how incredibly blind to reality so many people are.
This guy calls himself the Medical Medium, but has no nutrition, medical, or science background. He says that he gets his nutrition ideas ‘from spirit,’ which is an incredibly crazy assertion that should lead any reasonable person to turn and run from anything he has to say. He invents organs (the stomach gland) and chemical compounds (cluster salts) and seems completely comfortable doling out BS advice that he has no business giving.
He managed to make celery juice a trend big enough that the price of celery doubled. It’s frightening that a person like that could achieve that level of influence.
A recent study showed that only 1 out of 10 influencers give correct information about health and nutrition, and I’m willing to bet the numbers aren’t much different for celebrities and gurus like Mr Williams. So why in the world would we take nutrition advice from the likes of Salma Hayek (juice cleanses), Shailene Woodley (eating clay), and Khloe Kardashian (teatoxes)?
We’ve been convinced by wellness culture that someone is automatically qualified to dispense health advice if they’re conventionally attractive (ie thin, white), have a huge number of followers, and/or is a celebrity.
I think we want to be or be associated with those people so badly, that we take their advice seriously, even if it’s completely absurd. (spirits giving nutrition information, come on)
Here’s some advice: if it sounds crazy, it probably is. No matter how great you think a celebrity looks, it’s doubtful that they owe everything to whatever wellness fad they’re pushing. Don’t blindly follow advice just because it’s popular.
Food is medicine. Big Pharma is out to cheat you.
No, it’s actually not. And no, they’re not.
Yes, I know that a nourishing diet is the first-line defence against illness. That much is true.
But taking a pass on medication that you need, in favor of healing something serious with food, isn’t a good idea.
The best example I have is alternative treatments and diets for cancer. Although research tells us that people who choose alternative cancer treatments in place of conventional ones are more likely to die, there are plenty of voices in wellness culture telling us that chemo is toxic and harmful.
Here’s a tweet from someone fear mongering about chemo and promoting naturopathy aka alternative cancer treatment:
Wellness culture often tries to convince us – mostly women – that mainstream medicine and ‘Big Pharma’ are out to get us, take our money, make us dependent on medication, and not make us better. This is an outright lie.
I understand that so many women out there are frustrated with their doctors right now. That they haven’t gotten the answers to their health questions and issues via allopathic medicine.
But it’s one thing to try an alternative treatment in conjunction with what your doctor recommends, and very much another thing to do it because you’re convinced that ‘Big Pharma’ is a malevolent entity that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Don’t fall prey to conspiracy theorists. People who work for pharmaceutical companies want to cure horrible diseases just as much as we want them cured. And please, if you have a serious illness, listen to your doctor’s advice.
You are what you eat.
The expression is somewhat true, because you’re more likely to be physically healthy if your diet is mostly nourishing. And while we know intellectually that assigning worth to someone based on their diet is absolutely wrong, wellness does it all the time with its morality-based labels.
A person ‘eating clean’ is superior in the eyes of wellness, versus someone who eats ‘processed’ foods.
In a culture where our diet tends to become our identity, being able to afford $12 cold pressed juice seems to somehow put a person in a higher moral ranking than someone who can’t afford more than plain water. You are ‘better’ if you eat ‘good, clean’ food.
You’re a bad person if you eat ‘bad’ food. Or so wellness says.
It all comes down to this: eat what you can afford. You are not your diet, no matter what you eat and how much you spend on food.
While it can be tempting to try some of what wellness culture is offering, make sure you go into it with your blinders OFF. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.