Stop Telling Me My 'Fad' Diet Is Dangerous

Here’s a neat little experiment.

Next time you’re on social media, try out a variant of this tweet/status:

“Just ate a whole large pizza to myself lmao #goodtimes.”

Now sit back in your chair as the likes and the smileys and the emoticons roll in.

Then read the comments.

“Right on!”

“Pizza is the best!”

“CHEEEEEEESE!”

“EAT ALL THE PIZZA LOLOLOL”

Watch as your choice to eat a whole large pizza by yourself is swamped in a glowing halo of internet affirmation. Great job you good thing. You eat that pizza.

Live your life.

A couple of weeks later try something a little different. Tell people you’re going on a diet. Any diet with a unique name: Atkins diet, juice diet, mediterranean diet, ketogenic diet, anything.

Await the results.

“Have you consulted a Doctor?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Be careful.”

“Fad diets are stupid.”

Watch as you're sent links to studies ‘debunking’ the diet you’re about to embark on. Watch as people publicly ‘worry’ about you.

Motherfucker, two weeks ago you gave me an internet handjob for eating a family-sized pizza, now you’re concerned because I want to cut out bread?


In my short time breathing air on this earth, I’ve gone on a fair few diets. To be honest, I’m pretty much always on some sort of diet.

I’ve done juice diets when I’ve felt the need to reset my eating habits. I’ve cut out dairy. Over a three year period I ate porridge for breakfast every single day. (That diet doesn’t have a name, I just really like porridge.)

In general I like to prod at my own eating habits. I like to experiment; see what works, see how my body responds.

And there’s no way to say this without sounding like a smug bastard, but I’m very healthy. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. The last time I had a blood test I walked into the Doctor’s office and he told me – his words – that my blood test was “beautiful”. His only concern: “maybe your cholesterol is a little too low”.

Roughly ten days ago, I went on a ketogenic diet. I had been eating dairy free for almost a year. It was working well for me, but I noticed my diet starting to slip. This happens every now and then. I’ll start eating too many sultanas. I’ll develop a powerful sweet tooth, graduate to chocolate and that’s a wrap.

So every now and then, to get back on track, I’ll try out some sort of diet. For me personally, following some sort of general plan gives me a level of discipline above and beyond what I’d normally be capable of. If I just generally try to ‘eat healthy’ I’ll slip. If I say “I’m dairy free” I won’t eat dairy ever. It’s just how my brain works.

Here’s what I’ve noticed.

Every time I start to buckle a bit. Every time I tweet or Facebook about eating cake or chocolate or anything I’m trying not to eat, social media celebrates. They throw me a ‘like’ party the likes of which you’ve never seen.

But any time I try and discuss a new diet, the scare-mongering begins.

That’s when people send me the ‘studies’, or complain that fad diets are terrible. That’s when people start trying to police what I eat. That’s when people get ‘worried’. Gorging on provably unhealthy foods like pizza or fried chicken: thumbs up. Trying to make some sort of positive change in your diet: that’s when people have issues.

I just don’t get it.


The easiest conclusion to draw: people (including me) don’t like having their own lifestyle choices questioned and enjoy the shared glee that comes from doing something ‘bad’ together. The same way people bond over drinks, or a shared cigarette. Same way bunking off school with a group of mates becomes this tremendous bonding experience.

Trying to do the ’right’ thing is a tougher route to take. It’s lonely. There’s peer pressure. It’s high school all over again. It places you on the outside of a shared social contract.

“You think you’re better than me because you don’t eat chips?”

But it’s not just that. It can’t be. There’s genuine concern there, not just insecurity. There are people actually worried certain diets aren’t healthy or sustainable -- and those are good concerns to have. That’s fine. It’s just strange that those same people don’t question the actual, provably terrible diets other people are indulging in. That fact is compartmentalised. Put to the side. Ignored.

You can’t be blasting through a bucket of KFC in one breath, then criticise me for cutting down on carbs the next. That’s just a teensy bit hypocritical.

There’s a weird confluence here, between marketing and a flawed health narrative. The idea that fast food equals party time. That soft drinks happen wherever good times are had in a world where eating too many eggs is bad for you, but sugar laden Nutrigrain is somehow a four-star breakfast choice for healthy eaters. So much of the narrative is bullshit and challenging it somehow makes you the problem.

But here’s the thing, I don’t even care what other people eat. I scroll past pizza updates without a care in the world. At no point do I consider hitting reply on a public status to tell the whole world that pizza is bad, that drinking is bad, that smoking is bad.

Not even close.

I would never dream of doing that, so maybe ease up on people who are trying to eat healthy.

Whatever that means.


Comments

    It's very simple; you eat a whole pizza for the enjoyment without any preconceptions that you are doing something to improve your health.
    Go on the Paleo diet, or the detox lemon diet, or one of the hundreds of fad, junk diets, and you are deluding yourself that it will actually improve your health, when, at best, they do nothing but suck the money out of you or, at worst, actually make you sicker.
    That is the difference.

      True, also when you say you ate a whole Pizza, no one thinks you are deluded enough to think it's healthy, so they see no need to correct you. Hence the general lack of "you know that's bad for you right?" comments.

      So... removing preservatives, sugars, and processed foods, and eating more vegetables, fruit, meat and fish is going to make one sicker? Right...

        That's not a fad diet, that's eating healthy. Replacing breakfast and lunch with honey lemon water is bad.

    Perhaps the best course of action is to not post about it on social media? Other people can't use it to drag you down if they don't know!

    With respect, its not really a valid comparison though.

    A better one would be - post that you are going on a diet of nothing but pizza and compare that to a post that you are going on one of the "fad" diets.

    I am willing to wager the response to the all pizza diet will be even more "health conscious" than the others - i.e. people are much more willing to give internet high-fives to a one off indulgence (even an unhealthy one) than they are a long term diet change.

    Cognitive Dissonance, or being belieiving one thing is true whilst believing the opposite is also true (but in more eloquant words).

    I also believe you're around the wrong type of people, I have a few people in my life like that, I ignore, move on, easy done. Most are level headed and would/do respond to me eating a whole pizza to myself is 'Hope you don't eat like that every night' to which I reply, 'If I could I would'.

    They would also (myself included) go and comment on people going 'paelo' how stupid it is to act as if evolution hasn't occurred and that you know just because it was OK for our ancestors doesn't mean it is OK for us today. Not to mention it is consistently at the bottom of diets recommended by dietitians.

    I go by the philosphy of eating what I want, knowing if I eat too much it won't be good no matter the source. Don't limit to certain food groups unless medically warranted (or preference of taste etc) and the best diet is the one you can stick with that provides you with the most benefit.

    When you announce / indicate you're going on a diet, most people think about the medium and long term impacts and whether it's healthy or not...

    When you announce you're about to eat a whole pizza (or like my recent IG pic, 3 cheeseburgers and a 6 pack of beer #winning), people celebrate it because they see it as a "cheat"... a "once off"... perhaps even a reward for having done something.

    They're not assuming you're planning on eating like that as a regular occurrence.

    I think that a really valid point is raised in this article about other people shooting you down to make themselves feel better about not trying to do something positive in their life. These people may not even be aware that they're doing it, and this article goes some way to promoting some awareness of this behavior.

    Whatever works for you and your body and lifestyle is most important, because it won't work for everyone.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now