The dietician author of \”Wellness Trap\” shares the 5 myths about nutrition

Well-being is defined as the state or quality of being healthy. The culture of well-being, on the other hand, is more complicated.

According to Christy Harrison, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of the new book The Wellness Trap, the culture of wellness is more about the belief that our bodies can\’t function or regulate themselves well enough, and require products, diets, or self-discipline to do so.

The feel-good culture posits certain behaviors as the path to achievement (moral goodness), Harrison tells, adding that it promotes a standard for taking care of your body that can be unattainable or even harmful.

Wellness culture has exploded in the last decade, thanks in part to social media, and is reaching an increasingly younger audience, says Harrison. But many of the beliefs circulating online, especially those about nutrition, have little or no evidence to back them up.

Here are some of the more pervasive nutrition myths the wellness culture has led us to believe, Harrison says, and why you should ditch them immediately.

We need to \”detoxify\” our bodies

The word detox for ridding the body of toxins or substances has been adopted by the culture of wellness, according to Harrison. Whether it\’s sugar, solid foods, or social media, these so-called detoxes are touted as ways to cleanse the body and mind.

\”It\’s a very damaging wellness trend,\” says Harrison, adding that detoxes usually involve extreme or restrictive behaviors. Juice cleanses, supplements, and fasting are all marketed as ways to detoxify the body, says Harrison, even though the body is designed to detoxify itself.

\”Your liver and kidneys are great at removing toxins in your body without any intervention on your part,\” says Harrison. Extreme cleanings won\’t make these organs work any better, he adds, and they\’re certainly not a necessary maintenance measure.

The culture of wellness sees the liver and kidneys as filters in the sink that get clogged with filth,” she continues. A lot of the talk is about having to detox or clean them out in order for them to function properly. But that just isn\’t true, she points out.

\”Unless you have liver or kidney disease or rare cases of acute poisoning … you don\’t have to do anything to get your liver and kidneys working,\” he adds.

Concerns about toxins prompted by the feel-good culture are often overblown and fraught with misunderstanding, Harrison says. \”There\’s this scaremongering about toxins in our food and our environment that we presumably have to detox from on a regular basis,\” he says.

Juice cleans \”cure\”

Juicing has evolved from an easy way to drink your produce to a panacea that can cure or reverse a number of ailments, says Harrison. There\’s no solid scientific evidence behind it (the juice cleanses), yet they\’re still being touted as a panacea, he adds.

A red flag with any wellness trend, Harrison says, is whether it\’s being promoted as a cure or a way to help with a wide range of different conditions.

Celery juice in particular remains a popular trend among wellness influencers and celebrities, she adds, with many saying it provides benefits such as rapid weight loss, better gut health, higher energy levels and skin. clearer.

There are probably a dozen chronic health conditions that celery juice is supposed to help or even cure, she explains, such as autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, allergies or digestive disorders. But the research to support these claims is deeply lacking, he adds.

While fruits and vegetables provide the body with vitamins and nutrients, juicing them doesn\’t enhance these benefits, as previously reported. Juices can be a great addition to a diet alongside nutritious whole foods, but drinking them as a substitute or as a cleanser isn\’t really worth it.

Clean eating is always better

The culture of wellness has created an obsession with the cleanliness and purity of what we put into our bodies, says Harrison. It\’s even poured from food into personal care, beauty, and household cleaning products.

The premise of clean eating is to focus on consuming whole foods, avoid processed foods, cut back on sugars, limit saturated or trans fats, and limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine. It\’s one thing to try and get more nutritious foods into your diet, but clean eating is often a problem diet in disguise, Harrison says.

Some clean eating diets involve eliminating entire food groups (like grains or dairy, for example) and overly restrictive behaviors, says Harrison. More concerning, he adds, is how this could lead to disordered eating habits or full-blown orthorexia.


Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsession with healthy eating and associated restrictive behaviors, according to the National Institutes of Health. It often involves a fixation with cleaning foods, as previously reported.

While not yet formally recognized as a mental disorder, the term orthorexia has been around since 1998, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, and rates have been on the rise since then.

“Research is still limited, but there is some evidence to show that it is quite high in health-conscious populations,” Harrison says. “For example, according to a systematic review published in February, the overall prevalence of orthorexia in exercising populations was a staggering 51%.

All processed food is bad

Moralizing food, or labeling certain foods as good or bad, is one of the most damaging aspects of wellness culture, Harrison says. \”There is no such thing as good or bad food,\” he explains. Some foods are more nutritious than others, but this binary fails to capture the full picture of a food\’s nutritional value.

Assigning a moral value to foods can also create guilt or shame about eating them, Harrison adds phrases like \”guilt-free\” or \”cheat meals\” reinforce this.

\”The demonization of processed foods and sugar is the biggest,\” says Harrison. It makes people feel if they eat any of those foods, that it will have immediate health consequences or they\’re poisoning themselves.\” Not only is this a myth, he adds, but it can lead to disordered eating tendencies.

Processed foods are those that have undergone processing from their natural state, which includes anything from candy and cookies to canned fish or canned vegetables, previously reported. A step up from these are ultra-processed foods, which have undergone extensive processing and have been linked to increased risk of some types of cancer.

Harrison acknowledges that while research suggests that eating too much processed food or sugar may be associated with poor health outcomes, he doesn\’t believe that justifies the level of fear around certain foods driven by many in the wellness industry.

\”It\’s not like the people who have the best health outcomes in those studies always eat zero sugar or zero processed foods,\” says Harrison. Moderation is key, the occasional bag of chips or candy bar is no reason to fret.

There is a surcharge for that

Regardless of your ailment, you can probably find a supplement somewhere that claims to fix it. The culture of wellness often pushes the idea that taking vitamins and nutritional supplements is a more \”natural\” way to achieve good health, according to Harrison.

However, the benefits of dietary supplements for the general population have been widely contested. And research continues to show that vitamin pills and gummies advertised to keep us healthy may not do much, previously reported.

Plus, supplements can be harmful for a variety of reasons, Harrison says. They can come with unpleasant side effects and even health risks in high doses. Another downside is that the supplement industry in the United States is largely unregulated, he adds.

Vitamins and dietary supplements are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration as foods, not drugs. The FDA does not approve the safety or efficacy of supplements, nor the accuracy of their labels, before they are sold to the public, as previously reported.

Harrison explains that supplement makers aren\’t allowed to claim that their products cure or cure disease, but they can make more vague claims, such as that they \”boost energy\” or provide \”immune support.\”

It\’s scary because there\’s no one really caring about us in terms of what goes into supplements before they\’re on the market, says Harrison.

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