• Julia Mendoza

Stalked by Fear of Food

At what point did people voluntarily agree to taking up beliefs and habits that were all about being afraid of food?

In ancient times, the ability to choose between the right berry and the wrong one spelled the difference between life and death. In modern times, however, we have replaced that survival knowledge with bizarre psychological beliefs about food items, imbuing them with seeming superpowers or ascribing them with "badness/evil" such as "sugar is bad", "carbs are evil super bloaters", "vegans eat food that don't scream".

It's not just about scientific facts taken out of context, although, people cherry-picking bits of data and layering layman interpretations to them, so far removed from their true place in science, is another underlying symptom of the greater problem itself.

The world has become an increasingly difficult place to live in - we are overstimulated by our devices, we are assaulted by information, many of which are catastrophic or communicated as flagrantly as possible in order to fight for ratings share. We are constantly attached to the information ether, being programmed, by the material we choose to consume digitally. It is no wonder, people generally feel they are at the mercy of the world and circumstances beyond their control.

Food and what one eats is conveniently an avenue to finding a semblance of control. Our food fears, the programmed refrain drilled into us with "losing weight is a good thing" in spite of studies showing that moderately obese looking people, actually have the same lifespan and ability to live healthy lives, are readily available.

We absorb data and beliefs that speak to our unexpressed fears and desires. Is it really about carbs making you feel bloated or is it about emotionally investing in uber photoshopped instagram influencers with eternally flat stomachs that is the culprit? Is it really about "being healthy" or the desire to "feel special/trendy/with the crowd because I have this super long list of food allergies, gluten makes my stomach upset, eggs make me feel dizzy"?

I will wager that most people who have food allergies have either self-diagnosed through personal "observation" or via internet diagnosis or consulted a non-state licensed, non-medical background "nutritionist" whose credentials have not been checked nor researched thoroughly.

Let me be clear, I believe that people's desire to eat better comes from a good place of self-kindness and desire to live well. However, this desire often becomes influenced with faulty information.

My recommendation in the pursuit of eating well for both your body and soul is: "Don't talk yourself into having an illness you don't have".

The placebo effect is perhaps one of the most well-researched and well-documented psychological phenomenon in the world. Yes, the simple case study of patients, being given sugar pills, that look like medication end up healing from their illnesses, in the same way that those given the genuine medication do.

There is tremendous power in the tales you tell yourself. If you talk yourself into having illnesses you don't have, don't be surprised if you do end up having them genuinely and therein lies the problem. The initial small effects of "allergies" can begin to layer up to bigger difficulties.

Gwyneth Paltrow, the poster child for the ultra restrictive diets (vegan, gluten free, no grains, no dairy), was diagnosed with ostopaenia or onset osteoporosis at age 33. Yet she hasn't actively spoken about this. I am sure this was corrected medically with a dietary revision which miraculously she has never spoken about because it would destroy her brand.

A better example perhaps of the results of following "trendy eating" would be Virpi Mikkonen, one of the biggest vegan bloggers. After following a strict vegan, predominantly raw diet, she started developing menopause at age 37. She lost her periods, started feeling burnt out and started breaking out in rashes all over. Her body was shutting down due to the lack of protein and her highly-touted healthy vegan diet was actually killing her. She immediately resorted to eating meat and animal products again including returning to cooked foods. Her energy began to return and so did her periods. She also began to feel better, more joyful and healthy. The problem isn't because she ate only plants, the problem was that the restrictions she placed on herself resulted in lack of nutrition. Her early onset menopause was averted. Her decision to divulge this return to meat eating resulted in her being attacked by some vegans.

Virpi is one of the brave influencer bloggers who have come out with the truth that some bodies aren't able to thrive or be nourished by the trendy diets being touted on social media. Gwyneth Paltrow hasn't owned up to how she corrected her ostopaenia and neither do scores of other food bloggers who ended up at the London Priory for eating disorder treatments because revealing the results of their "trendy diets" would destroy their image they have cultivated. Never mind the harm it has caused their own bodies or the irresponsibility at potentially harming others who follow their beliefs.

Now I ask again, why would anyone volunteer to step into the shoes of food fear in the misguided notion of "health" as advertised by a blogger?

If you have genuine physical reactions to food, by all means, please see a genuine medical doctor or a state-government licensed dietitian or nutritionist. Research their credentials the same way you would verify a cardiologist's education if you were to undergo open-heart surgery. A genuine medical professional will be able to identify and isolate genuine causes of your illness. Covering these with misguided "allergies" or food restrictions means depriving yourself of a genuine resolution for your illness and producing new ones to go with it.

Stop talking yourself into illnesses you don't have. Life is too short to live it afraid of food. The world is hard enough to live in as it is, you deserve to enjoy what you can and to nourish yourself in joyful ways.


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