I read this article on Vice entitled, The Unhealthy Truth Behind ‘Wellness’ and ‘Clean Eating’.
So much of it rings true to my line of thinking. My favourite quote from the article really articulates my discomfort with they way “clean eating” and “wellness” have taken over the idea of health.
But when we advocate, and even insist upon, a diet so restrictive, moralising and inflexible, and market that diet to young women, and then dress it up as self-care: just how responsible is that?
Food is not good or evil. It’s just food. Moralizing your food won’t help you to be a healthy eater, it may do harm.
Many people who might be drawn to someone such as myself, someone who basically worships nature on a literal level may be surprised to hear I feel this way. I do advocate for many natural ways, but I am above all a scientist–because that is the true understanding of nature. I can’t just twist the facts to fit some preconceived notion I may have about how the world should work. It works as it works, and I am forever curious about that process and science is a powerful tool of discovery, of observation.
When you imbue food with moralistic language, you are headed down a dangerous path, not one I would go down. I prefer to understand food and human consumption in terms of what the scientific evidence shows, not the Woo Spin Doctors who make a lot of money finding new angles on ways to scare people into buying into their cultish propaganda.
I grow, forage, make and eat a lot of my own food because I find pleasure in that. It is a part of my culture and system of faith. Do I think my bone broth is healthier than a kitkat bar? Well, yeah–but I don’t think I’m being evil or shameful if I enjoy a kitkat bar, nor am I morally superior when I eat bone broth. The morality that exists for me is not so much in the material, as it is in respecting the natural world. I know very well that there is a lot of danger in nature and it is my responsibility to know and act appropriately towards those dangers. Nature is beautiful–but she can be extrordinarily cruel, in our eyes.
The human body has evolved to thrive when eating a variety of foods, largely based on vegetables and fruits, but including proteins (historically meats) and grains. This is not some kind of fancy fallback to historical roots–this is scientific fact that the systems our body is built on is fuelled by such variety.
Science is then language of nature, my friends. It is the way of discovering the essence of truth. If you follow the science, it shows these diets are based only on anecdotes, not evidence. It’s not natural to eat most of these wellness diets. Even paleo is not natural (and NOT based on actual Palaeolithic people).
Natural eating for scavengers (as we are) is procuring food that is available and that means being able to tolerate and thrive in variety.
As The World Health Oranization defines it, health is not the object of living, it is a tool that helps you live a good life. No matter how well Clean Eating and wellness are marketed and branded, it’s not the answer to good health, it’s not a healthy lifestyle.