I could throw a rock and hit a nutritionist. They’re everywhere, massaging kale, cooking quinoa and putting a week’s worth of food into containers under the pretence of ‘portion control’. The increase (using that word in front of a nutritionist is like saying cunt in front of a nun) in these health-loving megaphones isn’t surprising though. Mainstream nutrition (the kind run by hashtags and late-night TV) is becoming a trend, which is often a step or two behind a fad. Like any trend that has a mediocre amount of short-term profitability, Generation Y are all over it like brusses on creatine.
First and foremost, there is no denying the fact a nutritious lifestyle is good for your health. In the same way exercise builds fitness and relaxation helps cure stress, a balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to function at an optimal rate. This is a given, as it has always been, and not a single snippet of this article will debate that. But when the quest for a longer life took a right turn toward the realm of showmanship, pseudoscience grabbed the wheel and drove flat out down the highway and straight off the cliff of legitimacy.
The fatuous nature of many statements made by nutritionists has diluted the opinions of those with true legitimacy. The right to make bold claims on ‘new superfoods’ and ‘groundbreaking techniques’ should be earned, though often it’s not. The title ‘nutritionist’ is not a protected term, therefore hoards of morons with low BMI’s are coming up with the next breakthrough in a quest to earn some extra pennies. Thanks to Instagram and Facebook Fan pages and stupid consumers, the ‘pseudo-nutritionist’ was born. These are moderately attractive humans who tell you there’s a quick and easy way (that often requires a ‘specially formulated’ diet) to lower your cholesterol, BMI or any other acronym that sounds mildly tempting to those with insecurities (everyone).
Not surprisingly, it works. The average human perceives the realm of nutrition as extremely scientific. They envision lab coats and test tubes, when in reality, it has made very little scientific progress over the past ten years, especially when compared to other fields. Nutritionists, unlike dieticians, have little-to-no structure surrounding their ‘art form’, meaning the veil of pseudoscience and throwing of goji berries into the eyes of non-believers is enough to keep them around just long enough to profit off a lack of common sense.
This rush to market – and rush truly is an apt description, as everything in this realm is apparently done ‘fast’ – has manifested via the popularity boom of ‘superfoods’. These foods give the person who digests them some wild belief they’ll rid their bowels of toxins and strip the plaque from their teeth. This has many legitimate dietitians and scientists squirming in their seats, watching the masses indulge in expensive fad-foods often putting irreparable burdens on the places from which they’re sourced. For example, locals in Peru are battling soaring export prices trying to keep up with the quinoa trend, while swathes of farmland in China are being re-segregated in order to produce the ‘amazing’ goji berries.
The bottom line, best surmised in a speech by Dr. Ben Goldacre, is that “Basic, uncomplicated dietary advice is effective and promotes health.” It’s this no-frills method that has will continue to stand the testament of time. “Overly complicated, confusing, tinkering nutritionism is poorly evidenced, (and) because it’s a branch of the entertainment industry, it’s there to make money,” he surmises. Correctly, I might add.
Written by Sammy Attwood, the co-founder of Your Friend’s House. He can’t use Twitter, enjoys brunch and occasionally posts things on his Instagram account.