You probably remember those articles that came out around the new year, with titles like “Top 5 Worst Health Trends of 2013.”
They bashed things like Paleo, CrossFit, juicing, and “for no reason” gluten-free eating, more or less making fun of anyone who fell for those hot, crazy fads last year.
I can’t say it doesn’t make for some great reading, but this whole ultra-hipster “I’m too cool for trends” outlook kinda irks me–and maybe not for the reasons you think.
I mean, first of all, I’m not actually following any of those trends myself, so it’s not a defensive thing. And I have my reasons for not following them, but none of them are “well, that’s just a dumb fad.”
Before you think I’m getting all peace-love-let’s-hold-hands on you, let me explain myself.
When it comes to hot health trends, there are things I love and things I don’t love. (As with anything, right?)
I think the trick is to dig a little deeper into what specifically I love/hate about them, rather than blanketing a whole trend–or worse, all trends–with one big, fat perception.
What I love about health trends:
How can you really know what “works for you” if you haven’t tried (or at least considered) everything out there?
Haters think that everyone’s wasting their time chasing after all these fads, but they’re probably also learning a lot about themselves and their health in the process. I think that’s a pretty big win regardless of how you get there.
—Eating structure for those who feel lost
Sure, it’d be great if we could all just breeze through life doing this intuitive eating thing, going for whatever feels right at the time and generally making good choices.
But for anyone who’s struggled with a wonky food relationship, that isn’t always possible. When you get to the point where you just don’t know what the hell to eat anymore, a specific plan with set guidelines can be a relief. At that point, you’re like an 8-year-old who wants to stay up all night playing video games but secretly craves and is comforted by structure and rules.
—Exercise options for those in a rut
Turns out working out doesn’t have to suck. Health trends like CrossFit, barre, aerial yoga, and kettlebell training offer new options exercise-haters might actually like.
And if you don’t–hey look, here comes another trend!
Humans love to feel like they belong. A lot of health trends lead to communities of people who are tied together by one specific thing, but they have a tendency to think alike on lots of other topics too. (Or maybe they just influence each other until they think alike, who knows.)
What I DON’T love about health trends:
Too much of a good thing is always bad. I mean, you can overdose on water.
A lot of people’s critiques of health trends aren’t so much about the trends themselves as the extremism they’ve led to.
But do the critics realize that? I’m not sure. And is it the trend’s fault? Nope. Crazy people gon’ be crazy.
Once you slap a label on something, differences become more apparent. And where there are differences, there’s judgment.
When I first heard that one of my friends was going Paleo a couple years ago, the concept was totally new to me, and my reaction was something along the lines of “I guess they’re doing some crazy diet thing now.” Not judgy, really, but not necessarily open and curious either. Now my thoughts are more like, “huh. Turns out they were way ahead of me.”
Health trend haters: do you hate new technology when it first comes out too? Because I’m just saying…it’s new.
—Teacher’s pet syndrome
This one applies more to eating trends–and usually, specifically, Paleo/primal diets, which have lots of different interpretations. People seem to LOVE to nitpick everyone else’s choices in pursuit of the coveted Best Paleo/Primal Eater Ever Award.
It’s crazy how many times I’ve seen a Pinterest recipe described as Paleo get totally flooded with angry “That’s not Paleo!!!!” comments.
I mean, don’t forget to remind the teacher about that quiz she promised.
To be clear…
I’m not saying that health trends have no legit critiques. There are definitely plenty of cases where they’re causing people to bring unnecessary stress and hardship upon themselves, all in the name of “health.”
And don’t worry: I’m not going to end with a Kumbaya Call. I just want health trend haters to think about what it is they really hate about whatever trend irks them. And then go ahead and hate that specific thing, but don’t just blindly wipe hatred all over the whole deal.
After all, there are likely people out there who are the happiest they’ve ever been thanks to that trend. Who’s gonna hate on that?
What do you think about health trends? More bad than good, or more good than bad?