Health food blogs turned me into a protein-deficient wreck
‘I missed my friend’s birthday meal because I was so scared about eating unhealthily’
Many of you probably laugh at the “vegan, fat-free, non GMO, soy-free… everything-free” epidemic currently circulating the internet.
But if you look deeper into the impact of this movement the joke becomes far less amusing. Yesterday, The Times reported that food blogs are being blamed for the growth of eating disorders. Therapists at the Priory have said that Instagram permits those with little or no expertise in nutrition to recommend regimes that are taken “as gospel” by young women – but that these diets can be dangerous, and is leading to a growth in anorexia and the lesser-known orthorexia: an obsession with eating healthy foods. I agree the proliferation of the #cleaneating lifestyle is to blame.
You’ll know the food bloggers I’m talking about: the ones you’ll find on Instagram pictured spiralising courgettes in an attempt to trick their under-carbed brains – and those of others – into thinking they’re eating pasta.
These minute, glowing women knock back green juices like there’s no tomorrow and will have the cheek to call twelve almonds a “naughty treat”. They claim to be teaching young women the key to a successful, healthy life – but is this really the case?
“Carbs are the enemy”, “gluten is worse”, “the fat you eat is the fat you wear” – these are just a few of the slogans I came across on food blogs that led to me being too scared to eat half an avocado. It has too many “overt fats”, apparently.
After following these vegan blogs for a while they became all I thought about: I compared my food choices to theirs and was horrified. Let’s be honest, though, you’re never going to see Deliciously Ella knock back half a packet of Oreos and three glasses of wine.
The fact is, discovering these “health” bloggers changed me from a happy, meat-eating, McDonald’s-loving girl to a vegan, gluten-free, protein-deficient wreck. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I grew obsessed: my meals consisted exclusively of plain oats, raw fruits and vegetables, rice (occasionally) and shitloads of green smoothies on rotation. These bloggers promote this diet as a lifestyle, a pathway to happiness, yet for me it was simply a pathway to a diagnosed eating disorder, a low BMI and a stern talking to from the hospital nutritionist.
I missed my friend’s 20th birthday meal because I was too scared about what I’d be able to eat. I constantly found myself dropping out of social situations due to exhaustion or the temptation of foods that would be there.
My health was slowly deteriorating: I was exhausted, my skin was cracking, I had permanent eye bags and my muscles were giving in. It’s not exactly the image of health promoted by these accounts.
Did I “get the glow” after all my efforts to copy their food advice? No. I was grumpy as hell, poor from buying chia seeds and I would have gladly sold my best friend for a cheese sandwich.
These bloggers may not mean any harm, but they’re promoting one huge lie. Cutting out dairy, meat and gluten does not make you healthy nor happy – for most people it’s completely unsustainable. And trust me, it’s not glamorous.
Whatever happened to moderation? A slice of cake won’t kill you, gluten is actually fabulous and for God’s sake don’t cut pasta out of your life… pasta is more than just a carb, it’s your friend.
Life is too short to scroll through blogs feeling like crap, so if you’re reading this and are currently following one of their diets take my advice: turn off Instagram and enjoy the freedom to cook a home comforts meal.
After all, there’s far more to life than smashed avocado on gluten-free toast.