Saturday, January 18, 2014

Your healthy eating campaigns are wasted on me

Do campaigners, doctors and the diet food industry realise they’re possibly preaching to the converted in their on-going quest to reduce the country’s waistline?

I’m becoming increasingly convinced they don’t. Every week there are new action groups popping up, revealing research or health experts alerting us to the growing burden of obesity. 

They’re constantly warning us all of the public heatlh epidemic about to erupt if we fail to cut our craving for ‘junk’ food, hit the gym and shed pounds, sharpish.


Oh, I hear them; I hear them loud and clear.

But as a vegetarian in recovery from anorexia nervosa, a self-confessed sucker for appearing to ‘eat healthily’ and a slave to calorie counting, should I be the one listening? No, not really.

In fact I’m probably one of the last people they need to be talking to, but are the people who need to quit the sugar addiction and make a Change for Life, or whatever, ACTUALLY listening?


Like many in recovery from anorexia, I probably need to move less, eat more, control less and increase my intake of Omegas (You know, the ‘good fats’ we need in our diets – I’d rather not ‘fat shame’ the good guys!)

I need to step away from the nutritional information charts, put down the calorie counter and ignore the traffic lights. But I listen, it’s hard not to. I listen, and then I usually crack and take action.

My food shop then takes me twice as long, because I’ve been alerted to the zillion grams of the sweet stuff in my fat-free yoghurt, so I check them all for the lowest calories AND now sugar. Entire ranges of soups, baked beans, fruit juices and cereal bars need checking and filtering thanks to the latest scare. 


The updated super-food traffic lights are like colourful alarm bells in my head, I bet you can guess my favourite colour? You got it, green. But are the general population, and more specifically the overweight people they’re trying to target, really reading them?

I try challenging myself to ‘junk food’ and the ‘XX CALORIES’ is in bold, screaming at me from the packaging. Then, alas, I’m lured back into promises of Healthy Living, Good For You and ranges telling me to Love Life (and eat less).


But do other people still pick what they fancy, you know, the ‘bad, naughty, hard stuff’, despite the red alert over bulging waistlines, while I’m left wandering the aisles in a spin?

Do they consider the impact these campaigns have on people with eating disorders? (which are also killing people and costing the NHS £billions) Do they assume we can just ‘zone out’ and realise we shouldn’t listen? - Like we can switch off anorexia right

NEWSFLASH; I can’t and your war on fat is making it harder.  

Do they consider how these campaigns affect obese people with disorders such as binge eating (BED)? – Like telling sufferers to cut the sugar addiction is enough to overcome a mental illness?

I just wonder how much good these campaigns constantly telling people to lose weight, eat healthier, watch sugar, eat fresh and count calories, etc. actually do?

Personally, I think they’re bad for MY health and mental health. What do you think?


*****
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and need help please get in touch with BEAT the UK's Eating Disorder's Charity, your GP or other Mental Health charities. 

5 comments:

Idiot Savaunt said...

Good acticle Sarah have you seen that Sweden is the first country to align its dietary recommendations in line with correct eating habits? Rather than our governments low fat low nutrition recommendations they actually promote eating good fats not counting calories and eating fresh lower carb diets.

I think this is a nice fresh approach instead of bullying people that fat is bad its educating people on how much is too much and letting people decide for themselves

Idiot Savaunt said...

Good acticle Sarah have you seen that Sweden is the first country to align its dietary recommendations in line with correct eating habits? Rather than our governments low fat low nutrition recommendations they actually promote eating good fats not counting calories and eating fresh lower carb diets.

I think this is a nice fresh approach instead of bullying people that fat is bad its educating people on how much is too much and letting people decide for themselves

Emma S. said...

I definitely can empathise with this. It's hard to shut off that you're doing the 'right' thing for you when everyone else is doing the supposed other 'right' thing (which is actually the 'wrong' way for you).

Keep fighting Sarah. It's not easy but it's worth it. xx

Sarah OT said...

I think unfortunately we will always be surrounded by diet scares, and triggers of the latest fad diet. I've tried them all. I only fear it will get worse with the government focusing so much on obesity.

It does make it hard when recovering from an eating disorder, and I can relate as I feel I am easily influenced by others. But I do try to follow the advice my dietician had given me in the past, and when I have children I want to set good examples. I hate the terms good and bad foods I feel a little bit of good and bad is how a healthy diet should be. Try as hard as it is not to listen to the campaigns, I guess the government is just trying to educate people.

Mark T said...

A well written piece. The message isn't getting across for sure. There needs to be a more rounded approach to the whole obesity & lifestyle induced illnesses. Looking at route causes rather than end symptoms would be a start