The ‘I cured my illness blog’ have been one of the most popular types of food blogs around lately. It usually goes along the lines of I got sick, nothing was working so I decided to change my diet and suddenly I got better. Now of course I think it’s great that anyone has managed to find something that helps their illness, whether its diet, drugs or anything else. But I also think that having so much attention on one person’s diet can create a lot of unrealistic expectations.
There is a definite attraction to these blogs, especially if you have some illness or food intolerance yourself. If they managed to cure themselves through diet, they must be doing something right. The attraction is hard to resist. Most of us are desperate for anything to get better, especially when modern medicine fails to give us answers. Even if you don’t have an illness, it is easy to be seduced by promises of a healthier you.
The main problem with following a food blog because they cured their illness is that you are following a food blog because they cured their illness. Confusing I know, but think about how many food blogs you’ve followed where someone has an illness, started a diet but it didn’t help. Probably not so many. Firstly if diet didn’t help they might not be starting a food blog in the first place. Even if they do it’s much less likely to be successful. We like happy endings, stories that don’t end in happily ever after don’t tend to do so well.
By now you’ve probably heard of the now disgraced Belle Gibson. She rose to food fame with her wellness blog claiming that her diet had cured her terminal brain cancer. But it all recently unravelled when she admitted that she had never really had cancer. It just goes to show how attractive and successful the I cured my illness story can be.
You may think whats the harm. If you’re sick its worth a try right. Well maybe. But changing diet isn’t necessarily free of harm. Diet is not a one size fits all policy, people react very differently to the same food. For example if you were to follow the recent trend of a typical ‘clean eating’ diet, you may unintentionally end up eating a lot of histamine rich foods or high fodmap foods, which can cause serious problems in people who have problems with these. More generally the ‘clean eating’ diet is a much more extreme diet than most doctors would recommend. They tend to be vegan, gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. These diets may well suit some people, but some also report not faring well on them. If not done properly these diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
To be fair a lot of these blogs do not specifically advise you to do their diet, but its a bit like a disclaimer that no one really pays attention to. Whether or not they mean to, by doing an I cured my illness blog, you are essentially advertising your diet as ‘healthy’.
The harm also comes with the guilt factor. I’m sure it’s not their intention but when you hear so much about someone who has managed to cure themselves with food, it does make you feel like its something you should be trying too. If you don’t try it, or even if you do but dont get the same results, it can feel like maybe you just aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe if you cut something else, try another it will cure you too. Trust me I will do anything to get better. I’ve tried a gluten free diet before with not much result, but I still almost feel guilty every time I eat a slice of bread…what if it is true, what if I am making myself worse without realising.
With the stomach problems I’ve had, I’ve ended up trying a few different diets to try and get my symptoms under control. Some changes I made did help a lot. As some of my symptoms improved I kept thinking that maybe diet could cure me too. As I said, it helped a lot, but only up to a point. I managed to mainly ‘cure’ the symptoms I had that were associated with food, but I would not call myself cured, my underlying illness is still there. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that diet will not be a cure all for me, it’s hard to not think that maybe if I just tried harder, or gave something else up, it might just work.
I do believe diet can be a really important factor. More and more people now seem to be suffering from some type of food intolerance. The internet can be a great source to find out things that may help. It can be useful to learn through blogs and forums what type of things have worked for others and may be worth trying. Especially with an illness like mine where there is little useful medical advice, the internet can sometimes really be the only source of any information.
But hyped up health advice can make it very confusing. People jumping on the latest bandwagon can make it hard to figure out what advice is worth taking or not. Facts get twisted and spread and the end message can be more than useless. No one needs scaremongering into not eating something by calling it toxic or evil. Diet is too important to be based on the latest trends. People need the real facts so they can make their own diet choices, not based off diet trends.