There Is No Such Thing As A Miracle Food
The marketing is convincing. Eat this and gain muscle, energy, longevity, and stamina, they tell you. Drink this and detox, feel mental clarity, feel alive, and find love and happiness. Essentially, buy this product and feel whatever it is you want to feel.
But unfortunately this is not how the human body, or living a human life, works. Not only this, when what you are being sold (aka the miracle food) as the answer to your problems isn’t working, it can leave you feeling frustrated, often times blaming yourself and your body.
If this is you, or if you find yourself feeling tempted to follow the latest reddit post, food/drink ad, Instagram post, or news segment, here are a few important things to keep in mind before you leap up and run to the store:
1. Capitalism. You get this.
2. The human body functions best when a VARIETY of foods are consumed. The reason why we often, as a culture, talk about the benefits of foods in isolation is because that is how most nutrition research is done ( and it’s also easier to market in this way). Rats are great and all, but the poor things are limited. Studies done in tubes and Petri dishes are equally as limiting. What we do know is the human body needs a variety of macro and micro nutrients to thrive. There is lots of evidence to support this. And, what we see over time with dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders is that variety DECREASES which can lead to some not so great health outcomes.
3. The wellness diet. This looks like eating certain foods in the name of “wellness”, but it’s really just a diet with lots of ridged rules, moral superiority, and lots of food restrictions, not to mention tons of financial privilege. Christy Harrison does a wonderful job going into detail about what the wellness diet looks like and how to spot it in all its sneaky ways.
4. The notion that food is the human body’s salvation toward that which ails it. I want to be clear here that I am not dismissing any benefit you may have received from adding in certain foods or taking out others, or the benefits of eating a variety of foods. What I am saying is that just because it benefited you, it does not mean it will be supportive for someone else. Second, it is absolutely possible, in fact I believe this to be the norm and not the exception, that you can do all the “things” that people recommend around food to feel better (drink this, swallow that, blend this), and that nothing changes. In fact, sometimes you feel even worse (cue the keto diet stories), which can lead to you blaming yourself and your body.
5. Health is complex. In our culture we reduce health to the food we consume and the way we move, and sometimes we might add stress management to the list. What we fail to acknowledge and talk about are the social determinants of health that have nothing to do with food, such as socioeconomic status, history of trauma, access to healthcare, weight stigma and weight bias, level of education, safety of your neighborhood, race, religion, and much more. For example, no amount of avocado toast is going to help a mom working two jobs, on a fixed income to feed her children, to improve her health.
So, remember: There is no such thing as a miracle food. There is no single food that will protect you from that which ails the human body. Nutrition science is complex and cannot be reduced to individual foods as it relates to your health. And, there is more to your health that what you eat.