It is no secret that I am scathing when it comes to so-called ‘wellness experts’ sprouting health information. I’m referring to a group that, broadly, has no credentials other than a pretty face as the front person, PR savvy and a very good understanding of how to use social media.
I spend too much time looking at these sites because they frequently pop up in my social media feeds. Their reach is so significant that not a day goes by when I am not faced with some ridiculous claim or another. (No, my body is not acidic and I do not need a starter dose of lemon water in the morning to ‘alkaline my system’. Also bone broth is not a replacement for caffeine, you idiots!)
Let me be really clear about this. The one thing that these folk and I have in common is a belief in eating lots of fresh foods and minimising intake of highly processed food. I agree with that. Of course I do. I’m all about eating well and enjoying food.
But from there, we head off in completely different directions because I have something called science on my side. They have paranoia; I don’t think anyone is out to get me. They restrict food groups; I embrace moderation.
Last week, I was (unfortunately) introduced to The Food Babe. I’m not even going to begin on the name this particular ‘wellness expert’ has chosen for herself. I will however say this: Why has no one claimed The Diabetes Babe as their moniker yet?
After poking around her Facebook page and website for a while, I realised something. I had a look at a few other similar sites (well, not the Pete Evans page because I’ve been blocked!!!!) to confirm what I thought. The language they use is all so alike. It’s language consistent with propaganda.
They form an ‘army’ (#FoodBabeArmy) or a ‘tribe’ (Pete Evans), waging war on pharma, food groups (No grains! No sugar!), government, health professional bodies, scientists, healthcare professionals, health organisations. Everyone, but everyone, it seems, is out to get us. Vaccinations cause autism, drug companies are hiding cures to cancer, government is in the pocket of Big Pharma and it’s all being controlled by a little alien in a spaceship flying somewhere over Jupiter. (Or something.)
Only a couple of weeks ago, we sadly learnt of the death of Jess Ainscough who was known online as the Wellness Warrior – again, ‘battling’ against traditional cancer treatments and instead engaging Gerson Therapy to treat her cancer – a treatment option that has no scientific base to suggest it works.
The language used turns these self-styled soldiers and their rhetoric into a movement – a cause. They tell people that they are ‘fighting’ this together, when there is nothing to fight against. And they use words that make people wary which is a breeding ground suspicion.
The language is hard to cut through because it is all tied up in promising health, happiness, a better life. And who doesn’t want that?
But when you do cut through, when you start to question, when you look for real proof and evidence and anything credible to back up the flowery, pretty words, you get nothing.
They are creating the ‘Ponds Institute’ of health. They are trying to make us believe that what they are selling – and make no mistake, they ARE selling! – is the Promised Land of Health and Happiness!
And the scary thing? The scary thing is that they are unbelievably – and frighteningly – good at it.