There’s a popular movement that promotes food as medicine, and that this approach will help people eat, and be, healthier. Personal trainers and diet gurus who promote this viewpoint are wrong. “Food as Medicine” is just another misguided philosophy that gives entire categories of food a negative connotation and makes eating a joyless experience.
Disordered eating is a huge public health problem and is the major cause for the growing obesity epidemic. Diet programs – externally as opposed to internally regulated diets – have caused people to forget how to feed themselves. Diet gurus have produced and sold programs that have destroyed people’s innate ability to listen to internal signals of hunger and satiety and act upon these signals to regulate their eating habits.
The “Food as Medicine” folderol will just cause more problems and confusion and more people will continue to look at food as the enemy. Eating is one of life’s great pleasures and should be treated as such, and not equated with taking medicine. The phrase, “Take your medicine,” has always been used in situations where a person has to deal with an unpleasant experience and this movement will result in more people fearing and moralizing about foods.
Good versus bad, healthy versus unhealthy. “Cheating foods” versus “being good” foods.
Eating is more than gassing up your car or throwing more wood into a fire. Meals shouldn’t be about “Food A” producing some specific, desired result. Eating a great sandwich isn’t – and shouldn’t be – looked at in the same way as taking cough syrup or nose drops. What the hell is the fun in that? What good can come from equating eating a great meal with taking a pill?
Ellyn Satter is an internationally recognized expert in the field of nutrition and feeding, and she puts it best when she writes in her book Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family, “Cooking and eating can be about the happiness, comfort and passion of celebrating wonderful food, enjoying it with others, and leaving the table filled with peace and well-being. Instead, cooking and eating today are too often about applying the rules; about struggling with conflict, shame, and deprivation; and about trying to forgo pleasure in the name of health.”
Satter goes on to say, “Eating can be joyful, full of zest and vitality. Or it can be fearful, bounded by control and avoidance.”
Today’s diet gurus and many personal trainers, the proponents of the “Food is Medicine” farce, have created an environment where people are fearful of food, and who are bounded by control and avoidance. Don’t eat carbohydrates, don’t eat fats. Don’t eat croutons or bread or rice or pasta. Don’t eat meat, eggs or sausage. This is all nonsense, and people who avoid these foods – are afraid of these foods – are on the wrong path and are missing out on life’s great pleasures.
People are less healthy and fatter because of the school of thought that foods are to be avoided and appetites are to be controlled by external rules and eating plans.
People who think food is medicine will wind up doing themselves more harm than good.