Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Rumors are circulating that a recently deceased young mother and socialite died as a result of month-long juice cleansing. Apparently a cleanse is normally something one does just for a few days, so the results, whatever they may be, are limited. While I have no idea if there's any truth to these rumors, it stands to reason that a liquid-only starvation diet would be maybe not so healthy. Even - yes, even! - if the liquid in question came from kale.

But so goes the pseudoscientific conversation about health. We're told to eat only real foods, and that many ordinary ingredients (milk, white flour, any flour) are unnatural, too processed, not what we evolved to eat. This sort of approach may hold some value for those with specific medical conditions that require specific dietary changes. And whether or not anyone needs to lose weight, there are surely some who, if they did so sensibly, wouldn't be harming themselves. But it seems a mistake to treat one's diet as infinitely perfectible. If what you're eating agrees with you, is it necessarily disastrous to keep doing what you're doing? Could it be that the psychological strain of self-flagellating over use of white rice rather than brown is greater than any physical damage that choice could possibly inflict?

But it really is all so mixed up together, the health and beauty goals in all of this. Into The Gloss, an addictive beauty blog with no significant health angle, profiles a woman whose mysterious (and waistline-expanding) disease improved once she changed her diet. One might think that this woman's advice would be of use primarily to the others suffering from Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, about which I know nothing, and am quite prepared to believe responds to these dietary alterations. But we instead get a headline, "How To Successfully Transition From Junk Food To A Vegan Diet," suggesting that your everyday reader of a beauty blog would benefit from emulating this woman. I mean, "how to"? Why would the general public get instructions on how to eat if you happen to suffer from this rare disease? We do get a mini-disclaimer at the end, that it's great if you just eat more vegetables, but this is all very much presented as, the ideal would be to take things all the purity way.

While yes, transitioning away from an all-junk-food diet is sound enough, universally-applicable beauty and health advice, what you're moving towards might just as easily be a diet of real foods in the common-sense sense, and not a vegan (and, some Googling of this woman's recipe plan informs, gluten- and refined-sugar-free) transformation. Why not, if you do not suffer from a rare disease, consider a diet that allows eating in ethnic restaurants, at friends' houses, etc? Again, but put another way: is the danger greater from an ordinary loaf of bread, or an extreme purity-seeking approach?

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