I Used To Be a Holistic Nutritionist
As someone who has spent a lot of time in the wellness realm I feel like I have a moral obligation to do what is right. And what is right, for me, is to denounce my beliefs in a deceptive methodology.
The thing that lead me to become a holistic nutritionist in the first place was one of my most natural traits that I believed I had well sharpened: my noble affinity to doubt and criticize absolutely everything around me. Turns out, the honed sword of scrutiny I was wielding had morphed into a balloon sword. Squeaky, probably pink, and 100% imaginary. But here I was, nature-timing, walking barefoot, preaching organic, and not wearing deodorant all the while brandishing my balloon sword in the face of all those who would listen.
Coconut oil! Squeak, squeak!
Spring water! Squeak!
Toxins! SQUEAK! SQUEAK!
Then one day, my beloved balloon sword popped in my face.
How did this turn of events come to pass? It’s a bit of a convoluted story that I am still trying to dissect myself. I can’t quite pin it down to one specific moment but can credit it to a series of events that dominoed my ideals. One of the first few dominos was likely laid by a ridiculous and nonsensical magazine in my local community. One of those publications full of snake oil, faith healers, Flat Earthers, and conspiracies about pretty much everything you can imagine (did you know mountains are actually just giant tree stumps?!). I was asked to contribute my own brand of nonsense. I managed one interview before I couldn’t visualize myself being dragged any further under the hippy bus. Another domino was definitely placed by social media (we are all already familiar with the bubble- world of selective representation). Sometimes we find ourselves morphing into a strange amalgamation of social media influencers who seem to embody the exact ideals we visualize our own avatars becoming. A weird thing that happened to me, and I am sure is happening to others, was this real-life transformation into the person the internet wanted me to be. Not necessarily the person I wanted to become, but an identity that was shaped by the inclination of likes and commanded by the comment section. It’s extremely existential to look back at photos of myself during this time. WTF were you thinking, Royal? Well, you weren’t necessarily thinking for yourself, that’s for sure.
Within my brief education that I received to become a holistic nutritionist I was provided with valuable stepping stones and a general understanding as to how the body works. But it wholeheartedly falls short of resembling anything close to authority on the subject of health. Sure, I spent a couple of weeks studying the pathology of disease, and a little more on how each bodily system works to get your human suit from point A to point B, but I am no closer to being a medical professional as I am to becoming a professional cricket player. But what I do have is an insight into a world of quackery and woo where the lack of a comprehensive grasp on science is shielded by a multi-billion dollar supplement industry. An industry that definitely fooled me into believing that they have the tools to save us –an unregulated industry peddling the sales pitch of "natural", "holistic", "well-being" and more honest than what's offered through mainstream medicine but is, in fact, full of dishonest products that either lack real evidence or are straight up scams. I did learn the cardinal rules for nurturing a healthy human: sleep, a variety of whole foods, stress management, and exercise (peppered with a hardy dose of new-age nonsense like homeopathy, chakras, and reiki). There is a reason why holistic nutritionists are legally prohibited from saying "treat", "heal", "prevent", or "cure", and that is because they are lightyears away from being capable of even understanding what that truly entails. With what I do have from my quasi-education I can pick apart a lifestyle that needs some fine-tuning and provide guidance on how to structure a solid meal plan. That's it. I can neither diagnose the metaphysical blockage on your thyroid nor can I detox your liver (spoiler alert: no one can). After years of self-diagnosis and hashtagging all my fad-diet escapades (for this, I greatly apologize to all those I have alienated with my profuse self-righteousness) I can at least say I have a deep appreciation for those who are actually on the front lines on the fight against pseudoscience and the damage it does to real medicine.
This post is a firm farewell from a world I disconnected from long ago. I haven’t been the person the internet wanted me to be in a while now. The person that over years I let myself become through ignorance, misinformation, and a misguided desire to be different. So here I am now, officially having left the Church of Woo, bidding this domain adieu. I am not looking to engage in a debate, as there are far more educated people our there who can do science the justice it so rightly deserves. I am here to say good-bye and to leave you with a list of resources that I hope can provide insight and knowledge to those looking for additional answers. These links are all articles, podcasts and resources that I have found paramount in pulling me out of the heap of raw, paleo, organic bullshit I was buried in for so long.
Best of luck to all of you and the sword you wield.
The Sickening Business of Wellness: https://theoutline.com/post/350/the-sickening-business-of-wellness
Is Wellness a Fad & Is It Over?: https://www.manrepeller.com/2017/05/wellness-trends-2017.html
The new religion: How the emphasis on 'clean eating' has created a moral hierarchy for food: http://nationalpost.com/life/food/the-new-religion-how-the-emphasis-on-clean-eating-has-created-a-moral-hierarchy-for-food
Why We Fell for Eating Clean: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/11/why-we-fell-for-clean-eating?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
How Wellness Became an Epidemic: https://www.thecut.com/2017/06/how-wellness-became-an-epidemic.html
You Too Can Be a Snake Oil Salesman:
Gwyneth Glows Like a Radioactive Swan https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/14/gwyneth-glows-like-a-radioactive-swan-my-day-at-the-goop-festival
Appeal to Nature Fallacy: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature
Appeal to Antiquity Fallacy: https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/logical-fallacies/appeal-to-antiquity-or-tradition/
The Adventures of Holistic Harry: http://www.orthorexia.com/hh/
Top Ten Reasons Why Smart People Are Actually Stupid With Their Health: https://hormonesdemystified.com/top-10-reasons-why-smart-people-are-stupid-about-their-health
The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine: https://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/09/14/central-dogma-of-alternative-medicine/