Ok so a bit of a rant. However I am getting increasingly annoyed and saddened in my line of work by the impact that so-called health bloggers are having. I am seeing a definite impact upon young girls who are either following these social media gurus or are hearing about their nutritional messages through other channels. Sadly there is no regulation for these new nutrition types and yet with thousands of followers, their advice is wide reaching.
Restricting your dietary intake under hear-say or because someone else tried it out and it worked, or due to social media advising it really isn’t the way to go.
Firstly it can lead to your diet becoming overly restricted and make it hard to find enough foods to eat.
Secondly it can leave you lacking essential nutrients.
Thirdly this can spiral downwards leading to weight loss and disordered eating.
Some phrases I often hear are:
“Carbohydrates are not good to be eating”
“Gluten is toxic”
“Dairy is full of fat and hormones”
“I only want to eat healthy fats”
So I spend a fair amount of my time with these clients, dispelling the myths and explaining the science. Some of these clients I manage to catch early on, before things have gotten too far. For others though the damage has already started. What started as healthy eating has spiralled downwards into overly restricted eating. They are too scared to eat certain food groups and have continued to lose weight, taking their bodies into an unsafe area. Many of these clients then realise what has happened and actually become quite angry. Angry at the incorrect advice they have believed and the influence of the health instagrammers. Angry that they have been drawn into this culture. Angry that they now have many months of hard work ahead of them to turn things around. Angry at the impact on their minds and bodies.
Now I’m not saying that health bloggers are the reason for eating disorders. But I am saying that for some, the instagram health blogging world shows a world they want to be part of. The perfect body, the perfect diet, the perfect workout, the perfect food pictures. In my mind there is no perfect. At least not in this world. Instead we aim for balance with a healthy does of reality. However I am a 3o something year old, wife with 3 children. In my teens I too had issues with body image, I know I would have been easily influenced by the perfect diet and have followed the clean eating trend. Now with 2 daughters, I want to ensure they, and many others do not fall under this spell.
So, if you give nutrition advice, please spare a thought for how it could affect people. How it could be miscontrued. Think about whether it is correct, evidence based and sound.
How about we have the rise of the evidence based, trustable health bloggers?