Today we woke up to 2 pieces of news that resonated deeply with an issue I have been brewing my bones on for ages – those who create cults out of false or twisted claims, and then line their pockets while they continue to suck people in.
The Whole Pantry debacle is just the tip of the iceberg and I am sure there are many more chapters to come. Allegations of lies about having cancer herself, and questions about where so called charitable funds have ended up, must be causing founder Belle Gibson to hide in the pantry. Is this just a case of someone jumping on the public hunger for curing all our ills through food? That by stopping eating certain things and starting eating others we will reach the garden of eternal youth and longevity? Or simply another person trying to feather their nest without any thought for the impact on the rest of the world. I guess we will hear more as this scandal erupts.
Paleo Pete is also finally being looked at today with some concern in the mainstream media this morning, with his Paleo baby food book “Bubba Yum Yum” (what even is THAT name!) being pulled from the shelves due to dangerous recommendations to cook up a bone broth formula for babies. It has had its release date pushed back after health experts warned “there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead.” Some of us are not surprised.
Unless you live under a rock or in a remote area with no connection to social media, you will have heard all about the latest food fads and “tribes. It’s nothing new. We have had low fat, high fat, Atkins, Pritikin, Grapefruit diets, soup diets and the 2 and 5 diet, to name a few. It seems humans are constantly looking for an answer to all ills via food.
What the hell happened? Not that long ago, you grew as much of your own food as you could, bought local and seasonal, caught some fish, kept some chooks and visited the local butcher. Before Agriculture humans gathered what they could find, hunted what was around and worked in synch with their environment. Big food corporations and supermarket chains have a lot to answer for, and maybe that is what causes this response. We are all seeking an alternative to a highly processed, highly unhealthy way of eating. But cults and fads are not the answer. Cutting core foods out and increasing intake of others is not the answer.
I live with type 1 diabetes, a condition that required me to make significant dietary changes, including quitting sugar, back in 1979 at the age of 12. We were told meats were “free foods” as they had no carbs, meaning you could eat what you liked when it came to meat. By the time I was 16, I was an unhappy, overweight young woman with an addiction to sliced and processed meats. I was certainly not a healthier version of myself.
Over the years, damage to my gut and the nerves that drive emptying of food from your body due to my type 1 diabetes, have caused havoc and my banned food list now includes red meat, fatty foods, spicy foods, onions and all related foods, pasta, pizza, any large amount of carbs, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, gassy drinks, legumes and high fibre foods. I am still not a happier healthier version of myself. But I am most definitely happy, and healthy by all accounts according to my latest round of very in depth blood tests.
In my 40’s I began running again, can now do full push ups and run a multitude of businesses and activities as well as caring for a busy family of boys. I have a full and satisfying life. This is not due to anything really except my attitude, mental strength and approach to life, developed after experiencing depression, anxiety and assorted painful experiences. Food was not part of my healing journey and my happiness is certainly not associated with food. Food has however been a big part of my problems and used as a crutch in response to emotional pain – not healthy.
I think being healthy is not about being part of a cult or lining someone’s pocket with cash from buying their stuff in order to be part of that cult. And being healthy is not about being UNhealthy if you don’t aspire to the cult. Try starting a debate on Paelo Pete’s Facebook page about some of the positive and negative aspects to his recommendations and be smartly shot down by his followers and blocked from the page. I imagine some of you out there are going to respond in this way to my post today, but I am over being silent. There is no room for debate in these groups. It is my way or the highway – and “Ka-ching, my new book just came out you can get it when you sign up to my new programme.”
There are aspects of most food ideas that are wonderful, aspects of quitting sugar (I agree about that but not about quitting honey or fruit), aspects of Paleo ( I agree about losing the processed foods) and aspects of the Whole Pantry (but not that you can lie about having cancer and then take lots of people’s money), which are brilliant. But the issue is they take elements of being healthy and make them the ONLY concept..
Being healthy does mean being sensible – don’t add sugar to food, eat low or no highly processed foods, drop the soft drinks and crap. Totally sensible and based in truth. Fads come and go. Good healthy food is for life.
The best way to eat is to have plenty of locally grown, seasonal, fresh vegetables and some fruits, and unless you choose vegetarian which is a fine way to be, eat sustainably caught fish, free range chicken, and if you really want, free range lean red meat (although I think we could lose that which is a whole other blog post). Eat legumes, free range eggs and dairy. Eat low GI breads and grains should you choose – although for some of us this needs to be a very small part of our diet. I personally find my type 1 diabetes and weight far better managed on a lowER carb, highER protein diet with a minimal amount of healthy fats. Not a no carbs, all protein, full on saturated fat diet.
Choose healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. Eat mostly fresh unprocessed foods. Babies should have milk – breast or formula. In caveman days women who couldn’t breastfeed probably had other women feed their babies and wet nursing used to be an actual job. Bone broth is basically stock and I have no issue with it, but not as a substitute for babies having milk. Coconut is not a superfood. Nor is bacon. Drink low or no alcohol. Move more. Don’t smoke. Love deeply. Meditate more. Dance. Sing. Grow your own vegies, fruit and eggs if you can. Sustainability and food waste should also be core in any food disucussion – more to come on that one.
We have become consumed by consuming. The celebrity food and diet industry is churning out so called gurus and prophets and running scare campaigns shrouded in very thin facts which include some great ideas such as giving up highly processed foods, that is a no brainer, but they forget that balance is the key. They shun those who don’t buy their words and create a world where they are right and all science is wrong while their wallets grow fatter. They seduce with beautiful imagery and claims of a better life. Lots of lovely people jump on the bandwagon and start blogging and sharing their words and this just feeds the beast.
There is no miracle diet. There are most definitely very shitty diets. There are no answers to all your troubles in a celebrity endorsed cook book or downloadable App. Diet is a core part of health and food is medicine in many ways, but not to the point of dropping other medicine. Those suffering chronic disease, cancer and mental illness need a healthy balanced diet to stay as well as possible – as does everyone.
In regards to the current high meat and saturated fats Paleo fad, Cavemen died young with hardened arteries. It is important to remember that in addition to too much processed food and sugary drinks, our obesity crisis correlates with our addiction to computers and television. We stopped moving. We made everything upsized. We made processed foods a staple diet. I have had it with the whole cotton picking pantry thing. Try living with multiple chronic conditions which affect your ability to choose food, which require you to give up core food groups and where you MUST eat sugar to avoid death when suffering hypoglycemia.
I will finish by saying, whatever floats your boat is fine, if you knowingly and honestly choose to live and eat in a certain way, that is your personal choice – it’s those who are shoving it down other people’s throats with smoke and mirrors that makes me nauseous.
Ok hit me with your comments and criticisms. I won’t be responding to any that are hurtful, unbalanced or downright rude.