Raise your hand if you feel as though you’re constantly bombarded with quick fix articles, videos, social media posts, and news segments like so:
Aside from the obvious fact that these are clickbait, pure and simple, designed to get whatever website is publishing it page views to bring in ad dollars…they’re also spreading bogus misinformation under the guise of being helpful, when all they’re really doing is confusing the shit out of people looking for advice. Advice on how to lose weight, get fit, stop overeating — any number of things that most people struggle with today.
People who are seeking out information want to do better, but in their search they often wind up with decision fatigue. And know what is easier than deciding between keto vs. plant-based, cardio vs. strength training, yoga vs. HIIT, fruit is evil vs. fruit is great for you? Doing nothing.
I’ve written about this before (here and here) but it’s so important that here I am again a year later tackling the same issue. The articles above are from the Recommended tab in Pocket, an app that I use to save articles to read later. Much like Facebook’s “Save Article” feature, it allows you to put a digital pin in something and come back to it. I use it a lot for reference, and typically read through only what I’ve saved. But every so often I hop over to their recommendations to see what’s being saved and talked about, and what they suggest for me. It’s usually an endless scroll of every kind of health article imaginable, many of which directly contradict the ones next to it.
It’s all too easy to click through the litany of articles they offer up and read until your eyes start to bleed, and you’re left sitting there wondering what the hell you should actually do or eat.
And this isn’t pointing fingers — I still find myself clicking into some articles despite knowing that they’ll be 75% fluffy bullshit, their headlines A/B tested to see which get the most clicks. It’s the nature of the beast since we live in a digital world. Sites need to make money, so they churn out crappy articles that are like the potato chips of content: satisfying at the time but end up making you feel crappy yet leaving you craving more because there was little to no value gained.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times:
There are no quick fixes. Eat in a slight caloric deficit over time if you want to lose weight (which most people in the United States need and want to do). Eating a diet comprised of mostly whole, plant-based foods, moving your body in a way that works up a sweat, drinking water, avoiding sugar, not smoking, eating fewer processed foods, eating less dairy and meat, consuming fewer eggs…this shit is not sexy and no one is going to make millions selling this advice to you. For a comprehensive, evidence-based take on the above recommendations, I’d highly encourage you to read the (somewhat dense albeit thoroughly researched and non-biased) book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. Set aside any preconceived notions you have about what the healthiest diet is or what your favorite Instagram celebrity tells you to eat because he/she gets $paid$, and let the science do the talking.
Dr. Greger writes that, “The nutrition world in general is too often split up into camps, each following their respective guru. What other field of scientific inquiry is like that? After all, 2+2=4 regardless of what your favorite mathematician thinks. This is because there isn’t a trillion dollar industry that profits from confusing people about arithmetic.”
YOU are in charge of your own health. If you truly give a shit, be your own advocate and do your own research. Don’t take what other people say as gospel, and don’t be afraid to question the status quo. One little nugget that I find myself coming back to is from Mr. Money Mustache on the Tim Ferriss podcast: “If other people are not doing it, that’s probably a sign that it’s something you should do.” Few people question the USDA dietary guidelines, because it takes time and effort to read a lot and parse through studies. That means you SHOULD question them. These guidelines are purposely vague and confusing, because they favor the interest of the food and drug industries over the public’s interest in accurate and impartial dietary advice.
And that, my friends, should piss you off enough to take action.