Is your diet strategy promoting a sense of disgust? That’s a question I never asked until I came across this: Nutrition and Disgust (“Why do people get religious about nutrition?”).
I think it’s a disturbing trend, not just because of the implications, but because its something that can be easily dismissed (or, as the comic proves, made fun of). A lot of people may see it in action, but never really think about it. People read blogs or news articles, watch shows or read magazines devoted to “health and nutrition”, but aside from maybe checking the factual content, people don’t really look at the language being used, or what effect that language has on his or herself, or any other person who is reading.
That’s one of the reasons why I like this guy so far, because just combing through his entries shows that doesn’t just look at pain and movement, but is thinking about the way in which the language “experts” (which, because of the subject he is focused on can be anyone from trained scientists and doctors to some guy that took a course in massage therapy) use has a MASSIVE impact on our health, and that the use of negative language has a detrimental effect on health, by increasing perceived stress (ie “threat”, the mind’s perception of something which may cause injury to the body… threat then becomes the mind’s justification to undergo certain physiological changes… I would say that in this way, threat is synonymous with “stress” if you think of stress as the body’s innate physiological reaction to negative external stimuli). We all know that emotions can change the way we physically feel, that if someone yells at you, your body undergoes changes, such as increased blood pressure, or a faster heart-beat, or flushing to the face, etc. I firmly believe that more research should be dedicated to the way external shaming, literally causes internal guilt, despair, and self-loathing, because my own experiences and things I have read have supported the hypothesis that external bigotry can cause the targets of such bigotry physical harm.
By extension, externally identifying something with disgust does really seem to cause an internal experience of disgust. And that diet gurus use this as a tool to convert people into that particular guru’s diet dogma.
I don’t need to imagine diet extremists using disgust-inducing language to promote their own idea of what is “correct” to eat. Just Google “fiber and tearing intestines” or “wheat and tearing intestines” and you will find graphic descriptions (example 1, 2) of the way in which fiber is not just creating holes in our intestines, but how plant based foods, not meat, actually “rots” in our body. In other words, vegetarians poop bacteria poop. Yep, just see example 2. Because a person who wants to defend eating meat HAS to find a way to make vegetarians seem disgusting (damn farting hippies). Just as vegetarians have propagated the lie that meat eaters don’t digest meat, that it just sits in the colon and impacts it. Except when I Googled “John Wayne, death and meat” I found, by way of Snopes, that it is funny to claim that 40 pounds of undigested meat was found in that man’s colon, considering he was never autopsied.
When it comes to dieting and exercise, I am so sick of the pervasive use of negative, hyperbolic language intended to get people to change their habits to suit the habits of others. I’m sick of it because all this “advice” is just another way to berate people (like me) for our “bad habits”, and is usually perpetrated by the “well-meaning”. Oh, I care so much about you that I am going to dictate the terms of every aspect of your life, especially what you eat, because I KNOW MORE ABOUT YOUR BODY THAN YOU DO! I started chatting online with a kinky weirdo who felt that if we started dating he would have to turn me into his slave, because only by enslaving me could he ensure that I didn’t eat what I shouldn’t.
Needless to say I stopped chatting with that whacko. Kinky people can do whatever they want, but nobody should turn someone else into a slave JUST to control how much they eat or exercise. That is wrong on too many levels.
I’ve got quite a few friends who I no longer follow religiously on Facebook because of their tendency to report and/or moralize on their diet, exercise regimes, or constantly use their FB as a placeholder for the transmission of “healthy” recipes… or worse, “unhealthy, but oh so yummy” recipes. They share these recipes publicly, then get defensive because others aren’t “into” that diet and don’t want to see it. Suddenly, objecting to a barrage of diet X approved recipes, for instance, is tantamount to attacking the poster for his or her diet.
Worse yet, there’s always the recipes that are healthy, according to diet Y, but not so much according to diet X, so if a diet Xer posts that recipe, it’s always followed with the notion that that person (or anyone else who is seeing it because, hell, IT IS BEING SHARED PUBLICLY) really shouldn’t eat it, except it’s good, so here it is, even though it’s totally wrong according to diet X.
Hell, everybody agrees that refined sugar is bad, so I think I’ma gonna make me some fudge. That way, regardless of whether I’m being berated by diet Yers or Xers, or Zers, or whatever, I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that they all agree that my oh so divine tasting fudge is BAD BAD BAD BAAAAAAAD EVIL BAD.
It shocks me that more people aren’t sick of the fact that all our knowledge about movement and food is transmitted through one great big, disordered-eating, disordered-movement lens, where all scientific fact is filtered through the great queen, Culture, and her entourage, shame, ridicule, exaggeration (ie, disgusting imagery & fitspiration posters or sayings), moral superiority, and defensiveness. You disagree? Okay, so then I take it you actually read scientific publications? No, you just read the stuff in the health section of the newspaper, or somebody’s health blog, etc., just like I and everyone else does? Exactly… as much as I like what the above blogger says and the fact that he is trying to be factual, he is still a guy writing about other stuff and thus his writing reflects a particular culture. From what little I’ve read, however, it’s a far better culture than blind healthist dogma.
So NOW are YOU tired of health as a religious movement? Still not tired? Still not sick of the constant barrage of the same message: that health is the most redeeming thing you can have, above all other qualities, like love, loyalty, or a good sense of humor? The n go ahead and continue doing what you’re doing, even though every time you turn on the TV you are inundated with ads for Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers, followed by commercials for the next big thing in a total-body-calorie burning!!!-exercise equipment or program. And if it’s not these commercials, is the new commercial for Curves, which implies that every new membership at curves comes with an extra dose of “Biggest Loser” Jillian Michaels’ style shaming.
That’s why I find myself continuing to post to this blog every so often. The only way to get a person to question his or her own beliefs is to point out the way in which those beliefs are constantly being manipulated by others. Even right this moment I am trying to manipulate you into following links and seeing for yourself the way in which disgust is either covertly or overtly used to get you to eat certain things. But with greater awareness of manipulation comes freedom to either let ourselves be persuaded by something or to critically investigate or deny it.