When does ‘Wellness’ Become a Cult?

We have all heard the catch phrases of ‘wellness’ realms by now; the superfood claims, the quick fixes, the magical sexy new lifestyle regimes that claim, ‘you don’t realise how sick you feel until you feel better’ the ‘alkalising of the body’ and the ‘detoxing’. Pioneered by the queens of ‘wellness’ such as Gwyneth Paltrow and armies of Instagram influencers and bloggers.

These movements take anecdotal evidence, a client they worked with, one person from a Netflix documentary… and wrap them and the placebo effect that ‘wellness’ can have on people around areas which have potential or small factual accuracies or areas of research. Even worse than this, some aim to mislead the public entirely into parting with their money in order to transcend into the wellness realms. 

One example of this that I have come across is bogus ‘intolerance testing’ having spent time at University studying these tests, naming and shaming them and discovering the reasons why they aren’t legitimate, it’s something that I am asked again and again by potential clients, only for them to be disappointed that I do not offer diagnostic testing. 

Having read the research myself, some diagnostic tests deliberately mislead the potential customer on their websites… using scientific jargon and studies that may seem legitimate at surface level. But when study design is evaluated the evidence is not enough to form a consensus, and then charge you almost £250 for the test! 

Getting back on track with ‘wellness’ where is the line? The UK is in an obesity epidemic, more people are dying as a result of lifestyle related conditions than anything else, and more than ever before. We desperately need to promote healthy lifestyle changes in a healthy way underpinned by sound scientific evidence, we need to change as a nation there is no doubt about that. 

So I thought I would provide you all with my top tips for navigating the ‘wellness’ realms. As soon as we look into healthy lifestyles there all over our screens, so we need to know how to cut through the crazy sexy magical claims to look at what is fact and what is marketing. 

  1. Who is providing the information? 

You can critique what you’re reading simply by looking at who wrote it, you can see that I wrote this article and that I’m a registered associate nutritionist with 4 years of accredited study to prove that I can use evidence to make reasonable assumptions about what would benefit health and lifestyle in relation to what we eat. What is that influencers qualification? Unfortunately, anecdotes aren’t qualifications, so amazing before and after photos, glossy hair and a tan don’t qualify. 

2. Who is funding them? 

Fortunately, influencers now have to disclose if something is a paid partnership or an advert, or if they have received an item for free in order to post about it. but this is just one aspect of the ‘who’s funding it’ problem. If a company is big enough and has enough money, they will fund studies themselves, and of course if they’re funding the study, its going to show what they want it to show. Sometimes companies are small and can only commission small studies with limited sample sizes (sometimes only about 10 people!) and then will use this study to back up their claims. In a sample of participants this small, the results could be incidental due to so many other factors. This is why in order for something to become ‘consensus’ (well known and likely to be true) many studies must be conducted and reviewed with many participants of socioeconomically and ethnically different groups. You can look out for these things yourself if you ever click the link to ‘The Research’ on one of these pages. Ultimately, it’s a complicated concept, but if we ask ourselves who paid for this? That helps to unpick whether we can trust the information or not.

3. Is it trying to sell you something? Or make you part with large amounts of money to make the problem go away? 

Obviously, all services outside of the NHS are charged, private physiotherapists, personal trainers, yoga teachers and nutritionists all charge in exchange for guidance or imparting knowledge onto the service user. But if one specific product is being pushed into your face over and over again, claiming to solve all or many of your problems then the likelihood is that it’s not going to help you. The wellness industry has monetised selling high price products using the ‘I can make it all go away with this’ idea. Praying on the vulnerable and those who are willing to try anything to help with their condition means that often people are willing to pay extortionate prices for things that aren’t actually proven to work. 

4. If it sounds too good to be true… it probably is. 

This one is pretty self-explanatory, lifestyle changes aren’t easy, and you don’t obtain sustainable results overnight. Whether it’s a ‘weight loss fat binding pill’ or is claiming to cure the most debilitating of chronic diseases, lifestyle changes take time to see results. So if it sounds like magic and fairy tales, it probably would only exist in the realms where these things do too. 

If you want any help in navigating the ‘wellness’ world, and would benefit from some guidance to get on track with something you know will work … something that is a lifestyle change not a quick fix. Visit my services page to book your consultation package today.