Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The clean food fad

When everybody's looking for miracle diets, it's no surprise that quack gurus rise to meet the demand.
It’s not often that science intrudes into the world of ‘wellness’ fads. To become a clean eating guru, a cheery demeanour seems to matter far more than proper qualifications. Ella Woodward, Madeleine Shaw and Tess Ward all studied History of Art. The latter two then studied an online course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This course, based in America, claims to be a ‘movement’ working to reverse the health crisis by promoting the concept of ‘bio–individuality’ — a concept coined by its founder Joshua Rosenthal (who eats a gluten-free diet). It hinges on the idea that one person’s food is another person’s poison.

The institute claims that the qualification it offers is ‘rooted in science’ — a claim which puzzles Dr Max Pemberton, Spectator Health editor and an eating disorders specialist. ‘The minute you scratch beneath the surface,’ he says, ‘you realise it isn’t.’

It is certainly rooted in commercial logic: the surging demand for wellness gurus means that those brandishing credentials are welcomed by an audience often mistrustful of mainstream medicine. The institute is happy to boast about this on its website, quoting a student who says that ‘with the ability to see clients before graduation, my education was paid for before it was completed’.
I wonder whether some of the Twitter angry is really hangry induced by the pursuit of ridiculous diets. I keep cookies near the computer, in case of emergency.

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