With all the pseudoscience and wacky nutrition nonsense, it’s hard to know what to eat anymore. Huge amounts of nutrition information isn’t always a good thing.. and with the internet era comes a whole new wave of information.
When every Instagrammer with an interest in avocados feels comfortable handing out health advice (even when it’s completely wrong)... we have a problem.
When Netflix releases a new documentary every 6 months that makes us scared of a different food group... we have a problem.
As a dietitian and nutritionist, Lyndi comes across bad health advice all the time. So we thought it was time to sort the wellness from the wankery and run through the worst health advice on the internet – along with some important things to learn along with way.
Need a little extra support? In my FREE 30-day challenge I’ll teach you how to say goodbye to crappy old-school diet advice and create a healthier relationship with food. Click here to sign up for F*CK DIETS Challenge.
Oh, hey, everyone, and welcome to the No Wellness Wankery podcast. My name is Lyndi Cohen and I'm joined by my co-host, Jenna D’Apice.
It is great to be here and we are going through some of the things that I find all the time on the internet and I'm always going to Lyndi, is this true? Is this true?
And most of the time she's like, no.
It is the worst health advice on the internet. So we're going to run through it and hold on to your socks because there's a lot of it. All right, so the thing I find the most annoying, and we've talked about this on the podcast, is the idea that you need to have lemon water and that it's somehow good for your balancing the pH. Here's a few things, Sunsdan. Your body can very easily manage the pH of what's happening inside its internal organs and that one of the issues I have with this is firstly, there isn't any research to show that lemon water helps to detox your body.
I mean, I really did look into it, but it does erode the enamel of your teeth, so we don't love it. Why would we sacrifice one part of our body so we can be healthier in another part or not even healthier because there's no evidence to support it. Don't buy into this. If you want to detox your body, your body's already doing that for you. You don't need to drink anything special or buy any fancy supplements. You just need to do a little bit less drinking maybe. Yeah I was going to say, I've always heard like if you want to detox your body, a lot of places things say like stop having gluten and meat and alcohol and it's like cutting all those things out to detox.
You need to do that?
No. Why would we need to? So I mean, they're okay. So another thing I really hate is the idea that you need to cut out gluten, that you're somehow going to be healthier without gluten. Not everyone needs to cut out gluten. Some people are allergic to gluten. They have celiac disease. That's very serious. Other people have a gluten sensitivity, also pretty serious, but it's a bit more of like an uncomfortable situation. Most people can eat gluten. In fact, products that are gluten-free tend to be less healthy because gluten is something that binds food together. It's like it's sticky almost. And so when you take it out, you have to add a little bit more fat or more sugar, which are other things that help bind food together. As a result, you tend to have less fibre, less protein, and more sugar and more fat. So if you can tolerate gluten, don't cut it out. And I just want to add as well, like sometimes I'll have a big bowl of pasta and then I feel bloated. Does that mean I'm gluten sensitive? No, it just means I have like... You're just digesting your food.
Yeah, and I've just eaten a large amount of gluten, which can be bloating, but I think when you feel like you have a small amount and that's when it bloats you, that's kind of different. But some degree of bloating when you eat gluten is fine as long as it's not impacting your quality of life and your wellness and how you feel, you just go to sleep and enjoy the fact that you just enjoyed some lovely pasta.
Okay, so there's nothing wrong with gluten.
Then kind of on the same topic, is there anything wrong with carbs? Oh my goodness, can we stop the war on carbohydrates? When you take out carbohydrates out of your diet, firstly, you get a very small list of foods that you're actually allowed to eat. This can make healthy eating so much harder. And a lot of research supports the idea that there are plenty of ways to have really healthy carbohydrates. In fact, of the blue zones around the world, the places where people live the longest, carbohydrates specifically, things like whole grains and legumes, these are the things that all these kind of population groups tend to eat and they have in common. So I don't want you to cut out carbohydrates. I think what people are talking about when they're like, oh, carbs are awful, they're talking about like ice block or something, or soft drink. Donuts and cakes and pastries. I mean, those aren't, I wouldn't call them health foods. But when we're talking about don't cut out carbs, what I'm talking about is don't cut out your whole grains. Don't stop having oats. Don't think that you have to avoid bread. I did see a lot of people have this food rule where they feel like they can only eat carbohydrates once a day. Have you ever heard of that? I reckon some people, if they say they can't have carbs for lunch because they had toast for breakfast. Yeah, can we- Or people that don't put oats in their smoothie because it's too much if they have fruit in there as well. No, it's not too much. It's not too much. So one of the things that can help you when you're having carbohydrates is to combine it with a fat or a protein, and this does slow the rate of digestion and help you feel full for longer. But this idea that you can't have... You're overloading yourself with carbohydrate isn't true. That is kind of why there is a recommendation to have a bit of a balance of things at different meals, carbs, a bit of protein, better fat. You know, don't let that turn into a food rule either, but it may help your body feel good and give it a go if it does do it. And if it makes you feel awful, don't do it. Yeah, because sometimes it can become a little bit of a food rule. When I was like, if I have a smoothie, it has to be completely balanced. Then I always think it has to have protein powder in it because then it needs to have proteins and healthy fats and some fruits and some vegetables and all of it all in one. And sometimes you don't feel like it all. No, that's exhausting to even have to think about how to get a smoothie that's kicking all those boxes. It's just a little smoothie. What do you think is the worst health advice on the internet? Probably to do with the gluten and the dairy train of like these things are so bad for you. Because I feel like everything you research, every problem I've ever had, if you Google it on the internet, it will tell you cutting gluten and cutting dairy will solve that for you. And it's just perpetual. I know I've had things with insulin resistance or PCOS or any of those things and the first thing that any single person I've ever spoken about, it's like you just have to cut dairy and cut gluten. And I'm like, if you've struggled with weight issues your whole life and you're saying, okay, now the only way to solve this is to cut out whole food groups, it's like I don't know if that's gonna help. Additional food groups, so they're already a long list of foods that you think that you're not allowed to eat. Yeah, no, and okay, this is where wellness wankery comes from. There is an inkling of truth for this for some people. Some people can't handle too much dairy. Some people can't handle too much gluten. That's true, right? But what they do is they're like, okay, well then that applies to absolutely everyone. And just because I felt better because of it, you should feel better too. So wellness wankery always has its roots in some degree of truth, and then it's extrapolated and applied to everyone. And they're like, this is the way things are. No, plenty of people do really well with dairy. We'll talk about that in another episode. And I think also if some people come down to, if you're cutting out food groups or cutting out things you used to eat and they're not replacing it, then you obviously are going to lose weight because you're having less food.
It's not necessarily because you're cutting out the right foods to make you lose weight.
Yeah, but are you going to lose weight? No, but I mean, you know how sometimes if someone's like, I'm not having gluten right now, so then they just start eating less, but they can't maintain that forever. And then they think it's because, you know what I'm saying?
Because they cut out that, yeah, you know what I'm trying to say?
They think gluten was causing, whereas actually you're just eating less food. You're just eating less food and then you can't maintain that forever. Yeah, totally. I mean, I would say though, I've never met a person who's like sustainably gone, oh, I cut out gluten and dairy and now I've lost weight and kept it off and I'm better and happier for it. No, because gluten and dairy are happiness.
They sure are.
I had this meme and it was like, everyone like, because if you're celiac, you're celiac, that's serious, you can't have it. But people that are like, most people say, oh, I'm lactose intolerant, but then they're like, oh, I still wanna have some ice cream
and all the things that bring them joy.
Yeah, well, if you are lactose intolerant, you may be able to tolerate a small amount of dairy. And also, let's say you didn't have dairy that day, you might be able to get away with having a bit of lactose. So I guess it's like them just trying to be like, or they deal with the symptoms. And then they tend to eat a whole tub of ice cream in my experience because it's kind of that binge and restriction mindset where they're like, there's a famine going on, I suddenly get the ice cream, I binge on it. I feel really awful as a result. There's also, I feel like, is it kind of finding the load that works for you? Like some people, they're like, I could have a little hot chocolate if I really wanted it and I'm probably gonna be okay. Finding what works for your stomach. Totally, totally. And also, sometimes removing it completely isn't the right choice because your body doesn't know to really know how to digest it. And so when you do have a little bit of it, your body freaks out. But if people say people are having negative symptoms from it and then they cut it out and then they feel better, do you think they then start to reintroduce it slowly and see how much they can tolerate or then it's just never have it again?
I would say yes.
Ideally, you can try and work out how much you can tolerate because you don't have to avoid it for the rest of your life. Sometimes with gut health stuff, and we're going into different territory now, but sometimes you can have an exacerbation of your symptoms. Think about your gut just being highly sensitive at a particular time, it's been triggered by either stress or something going on in your life. Once you step away, you're feeling a whole lot better and you can reintroduce things, you might find your gut is more resilient and it can handle a higher load. But this is what people do, is they're like, okay, I cut out everything for my diet, then I feel better. And then they just stay on this restrictive diet for the rest of their lives. And that's just not fun, not doable, it's not healthy, and that's not recommended either. Right, okay, we are really off-piste.
Miss bunking, we are miss bunking.
Miss, is that the word?
Okay, next one. Okay, so this idea of speeding up your metabolism with specific foods. This is a big one. I remember there was a stage where a lot of my friends were adding freakish amounts of chili to all their food because I felt like they think that it was going to speed up their metabolism. Because you've got to add freakish amounts. And I mean like so hot that it would like burn your mouth. You'd be crying. No, to actually get any useful, tangible metabolism increase from chili, you do need a hectic amount of it. You wouldn't even be able to taste the food anymore. No, exactly. I would not recommend it. It's one of those things where it really just compromises your well-being. And I just think this whole idea that we should be using food to boost our metabolism is silly. Food gives us energy. I know there was a phase where people were talking about celery because celery apparently uses more energy to digest itself. Oh yes, I've heard that. So does that mean people are just sitting there eating raw sticks of calorie, of celery? Yeah, that it takes more calories to digest the celery than is in the celery?
Yeah, that's it.
That's what I've heard.
It's like a negative food. Negative food. Well, that's a negative association with our food. I call bullshit on that. And while we're on the celery topic, another worst piece of advice I think I hate is the celery juice thing. Which by the way, is kind of like fading into the distance now, like any health trend. But do you remember like the celery juice, drink celery juice multiple times a day and you'll like change your life? Whatever that nonsense was. Yeah, I feel like juicing is kind of getting less and less relevant. Not of less relevance, but I'm hearing of less people going on a 10-day juice cleanse than I used to hear a few years ago. Yeah, it's not nearly as trendy as it used to be, which I think is a really great thing. I think your body needs to eat and digest, and that's a really fabulous thing. The idea that you need to somehow skip all food and just drink fluids, give your digestive system a rest. Your digestive system doesn't need a rest. It's like your heart, your heart doesn't need a rest. Yeah, it's gonna keep going. Keeps beating, it's designed to keep beating. And your digestive system is designed to keep being able to process through food. Sure, we can reduce our load, so meaning that we can kind of drink less alcohol, fill up on all those veggies and fruit and all that good stuff that, oh my goodness, no, we don't want to be doing the juicing stuff. Okay, no juicing. Another one I have heard a lot about is protein. Should we be putting protein in every meal? Do we need more protein? Should we be, when we go out, should we be adding extra protein? Protein, protein, protein. There's an obsession with protein, isn't it? For some people, let's say you're an athlete, yeah, you might want to be doing that. You might need a little bit more protein because your muscles are going to need it for recovery. I'm not an athlete, are you?
No, I'm not.
So for us non-athletes slash normal people who have jobs and enjoy things and live life, no, you don't need to be adding protein to everything. In fact, typically the protein we get in the health food shop is very processed and don't even know what it is, makes your fart smell really strange, I don't know if you've noticed that. And I just think it's kind of like what we do is protein is important, I'm not going to lie, in the exact same way the carbohydrates are important. And what we've been doing over the last few decades is we've been picking one, you know, macronutrient, which is what happened in the 90s, more sugar, so marshmallows were fat-free and suddenly everyone thought that was a healthier choice, or we're going through this phase right now where we're absolutely in love with protein and fat's a little bit more trendy, but carbohydrates are very uncool, so we're creating another imbalance in that we're getting high ratios of those. What we really need is this sweet little balance between all three. I wonder at what point are we going to get to a time where we're like, actually, they're all three useful. We need them all the time.
Neither of them are like-
Maybe it's like fashion trends, so it's just going to keep coming in a circle. Oh, no.
So someone stops it. Let's stop it. Okay. You can have all of them. While we're here, can we talk about fruit? So fruit's not fattening. Oh my goodness. How did this myth get perpetuated and reached crazy levels.
The sugar warriors took down fruit with them.
Dang. Have we recovered from the fruit phobia?
We've recovered. I have a whole banana now.
You've eaten a whole banana? Muzzle-toe. That's amazing.
I mean, they do come in its own little divine package. But it's hard as well when you've been told that there are certain fruits that are fattening and some that are good. All fruit is good for you. Yes, they contain sugar. Sugar is not something we need to fear, just like proteins are something we need to fear or fats are not something we need to fear, just like a nice little balance. And people are like, I do recommend once, two serves of fruit a day. People are like, well, why can't I just eat lots of fruit? You can eat lots of fruit, but realistically, if you're eating a lot of fruit, what are you missing out on in the rest of your life? So it's not about the fact that fruit is fattening, it's that other foods are really good for you as well. So we wanna create that balance.
You don't wanna fill up on fruit and then you're too full to eat all the other food groups you should be eating.
Yeah, like we do want some protein, we do want some fat, we do want some of the other stuff. So it's like a little bit of healthy balance here. It's not about being phobic or fearing something, but it's just about a bit more balance, my friends. How much health advice should we be getting from Netflix? Because if you literally sat down one day and watched all the food documentaries on Netflix, I bet you there wouldn't be a single food group that you would feel good to eat. Oh, because they pick one in each documentary and give you all the bad things about it. You're like, oh, I can never eat fish again. Or meat is not for me. You know what I mean? They just pick something. You're spot on. Oh, I got it. I love that. I love that. I hate that but I love that what you're pointing out is that Netflix documentaries are just making us fear absolutely everything whittling down that already small list of foods that we feel like we're allowed to eat Creating so much fear and resentment when the truth is don't eat fish all the time eat it a few times a week Don't eat meat all the time eat it every so often like all foods can be eaten in moderation. I just think like let's not take anything to the extreme and you know what the takeaway here is, less nutrition advice from Netflix and a little bit more balance. A little bit more balance. If people are wanting nutrition advice, do you think the best thing to do with them to actually just go see a nutritionist or a dietitian and they can work it out for them? Absolutely. You want to make yourself an appointment with a dietitian and someone who is specializing whatever you're struggling with. So you kind of go to Google, you would Google like your suburb, dietitian and then like your ailments because you want to find a specialist right? Like if you've got gut health concerns go see someone who that's their bread and butter and you might want to actually just start to tune into your body in coming up to the appointment. So two weeks before you might go, okay, well, how do foods make me feel? And you could even just start to note down your thoughts around food if you're struggling with disordered eating or something like that and taking that to the person so they have so much more information to work off. And it's a really nice starting point. But that's absolutely the place to go for your nutrition advice. I do want to just mention as well, I don't think doctors are the best when it comes to nutrition advice. would probably receive probably a day worth of training about nutrition in the whole time of their degree, which isn't a lot. And as a result, they are also quite vulnerable to being sold diet messaging. And I think that I've heard from a lot of people who are like, I went to my doctor and they told me I should go keto or they told me I should do fasting or they told me I should do, you know, meal replacement shakes. And I think doctors are not immune and they may also dish out some unsavory health advice or nutrition advice so you can trust them for all other things but I just don't think they're my go-to when it comes to nutrition advice. Yeah, I remember I went to an endocrinologist once and he told me I should just do spin more to get off the fat off my thighs. Like, I was like, why am I paying you $300 for you to tell me that? Totally, and this is what happens is people go see a doctor and then they spend the entire session talking about their weight and completely neglecting the reason that you're there because you weren't there for your thighs, were you? No. Surprise, surprise. No. Cool. Intermittent fasting. Do you need to intermittent fast? No, we don't like intermittent fasting. I don't like the idea of glorified starvation. That's what this is. And it's rules. I remember there's a lot of people that I used to work with, intermittent fasting, they'd all just be waiting to 12 o'clock to eat. It's like, and drinking black coffee. I'm like, that can't be good for your hormonal system, just sitting there peaking with caffeine,
waiting to eat.
I don't think it's fun.
I really just don't think-
No, it looks terrible. No. So there are a whole bunch of health benefits associated with intermittent fasting. There is, but I think there's also some negative symptoms that are associated with it. So it's kind of turning out that maybe it's not this amazing health diet that we've always been told that it is. Like anything, when you're compromising one, when you're sacrificing one part of your body for another, you're going to get some pros, you might get some cons, but ultimately, I don't think it's worth it. Can we leave intermission fasting behind in 2021 where it should stay and never come out of again? We can. It's left. Thank you. Okay, so this is one that I really grew up believing because I'm a millennial and hipster jeans were really cool while I was growing up and Brittany was cool and Christina, they're still cool. I was going to say they are still cool. But the idea that you need to look good in a crop top in order to be healthy, I'm sick of that. I'm sick of that idea that when I look at a health magazine, that what I see is one body type and it's often photoshopped and that person has spent a lot of effort and energy to try and lose weight to be more toned for that photo shoot and then they're still edited and there's makeup and there's lighting and all those things. And so we really do just get this one idea of what health looks like. And we know that that's just not the case. When I've been the healthiest in my life, I don't think I've looked like the picture of health. But you know, something like my wedding day, I think I lost too much weight on my wedding day, but everyone told me how amazing I was, but I was anxious. I was walking a lot. I wasn't eating nearly enough. My boobs were really deflated, you know, these little things you're like, oh, that's not right. And that's when you get like the most praise. Yeah, you get the most praise for that kind of thing because everyone else believes that that is what health is. Or you know, times like university where I had such a crazy eating disorder and I was smoking, so doing all kinds of stuff, partying all the time, drinking way too much. But just because I lost weight, people were like, oh my gosh, you look so healthy. And I was like, I am a shell of a human. My head's falling out. Exactly. And we just need to let go of that health advice. And that advice comes to us in subtle ways. It's really just the imagery we see. It's the ideas. It's the subtle imagery that we see when we're on our social media feed or if we're looking through a magazine that continues to perpetuate the idea that you have to lose weight in order to be healthy. You don't? No, you don't. Thank goodness. This is a bit of a strange one but there is a kind of a myth that all exercise is good
And I think, I mean exercise is good, I'm not going to lie. But when it gets to the point that you are fatigued, when you finish a workout and you feel worse than when you started, when you feel like you can't have a social life because you have to put exercise comes first and so you'll say no to a dinner out with your girlfriends because also you're scared of eating the food and you're like, well, what?
You've got to get up for the gym in the morning.
Yeah, totally, that starts to control your life. I think that is really harmful. You shouldn't feel like you're in pain all the time from doing exercise either. I think when I was like also my eating slow phase, I really thought that intense exercise was the only worthy exercise. And what I've now discovered for me is that gentle exercise works really well for my body. So not all exercise is good. It shouldn't feel punishing. It shouldn't feel painful. It shouldn't lead to injuries. And I think there's a whole bunch of these very trendy exercises at the moment that can really induce injury. And I'd say we kind of listen to your gut if you feel like, all right, I don't know if that's for me, give yourself permission to go for more gentle exercise, whether that's going for a walk or yoga or you know, something you enjoy. Something you enjoy, dancing around. I see this a problem in some people, would be a problem for some people, when they're doing exercise and they're also really competitive, so then they go to these places and they push themselves so hard, they hurt themselves, they're injuring themselves. So I think there's a way of coming and like, I'm trying to burn the most calories possible, which they also are doing because they're wearing heart monitors and everyone's calories up on the thing to get the most points. And then everyone's pushing themselves to be the best person in the room and then you're
right, fatigue, injuring themselves, making themselves sick and they don't know how to
stop. Yeah, and you just got to know yourself. You're like, if you're a competitive person, you might not be suited for this kind of exercise. And I'm so the opposite to that whatsoever. I would like never want my points up in the thing because I'm like, I will be at the bottom working at my own pace and I just don't need that juju around me.
That bad, bad juju.
Bad, bad juju.
The other bad juju that I like and I don't like is, once again, coming back to the whole pH thing, there is an idea that certain foods are alkaline and certain foods are acidic and that you have to kind of balance the acidity and the alkalinity. I do like this approach in some way because it does generally get people to eat more vegetables but that's kind of where it stops. Ultimately, your body can regulate its pH. We mentioned this, the lemon water thing. No, some foods aren't more alkaline or acidic. Some are but it's not like it's going to affect your body in a specific way. You don't need to try and add in more alkaline, you don't need to avoid acidic. Any diet that's trying to tell you that there is a whole bunch of really bad, evil, forbidden foods, that is not going to be helpful. Sounds so complicated. It is complicated. Because the food doesn't even say, I'm alkaline or I'm acidic on it. You have to work that out yourself. Every diet is so complicated. It's so complicated. So many rules and I'm tired I'm tired of it I'm tired of the wellness wankery I'm tired of all these stupid pieces of advice that we find on the internet and I'd say let's flip our middle finger to them and see you later. If you ever hear any terrible health advice on the internet hear it read it see it send it through we'd love to hear about it. Yeah shoot me a DM on Instagram nude underscore nutritionist let me know and also if you've got a question, you want to know is this wellness or rankery, send me a DM. Anyways, guys, I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We enjoyed filming it for you. If you do, please leave us a review on wherever you're getting your podcast from.
Chat to you next time.
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