Disclaimer: You should treat nutritional advice from an idiot mummy blogger like me with as much respect as you would my tips on accessorising with black PVC bum bags. Which is to say, not at all… How about we just make a blanket rule that you never do anything I say? Ever. Much safer that way.
After several months in the wilderness I finally made my return to blogging earlier this year, only to strike my first angry dissenter after a mere seven days of being back in the game. My previous post about giving up chocolate struck the wrong chord with someone, leading to a very public spat on the Facebook page of a fellow blogger.
Universal Law of Blogging: the most controversial posts are always the ones you least suspect.
The brouhaha took place not long after I published a sarcastic break-up letter to chocolate on Valentines Day. At the end of that piece I made an offhand quip about quitting sugar that raised the ire of some random internet citizen; a person who clearly had no idea who I was and seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that nothing I say should ever be taken the slightest bit seriously.
A blogging colleague had rather graciously posted a link to my stupid “Dear Chocolate, Fuck You” letter on her Facebook page, when shortly afterwards one of her followers dropped an explosive snark bomb in the comments thread:
“Sounds more like a love letter to orthorexia”
I’m totally used to getting snarky comments on social media, and I actually keep a desktop folder of them for my own amusement (true story is sad). I tend to ignore them, because the majority of those people have their triumphant little jerk-off moment as soon as you make any acknowledgement of their existence and the misery they are hoping to inflict. But this was different.
This wasn’t someone calling me the biggest wanker in the world, or a judgemental bitch or a moron who deserves a good punch in the face. I mean, those things are all at least partially true and I’d have a hard time putting forward a cogent argument to suggest otherwise.
But accusing me of HAVING and PROMOTING an eating disorder?
That shit is NOT ON.
Like I said, I normally don’t respond to criticism but this accusation was so far from the truth that I couldn’t let it go unchecked, so I replied with a droll yet measured comment to suggest that a light-hearted post about giving up chocolate does not equal orthorexia.
I thought my comment would be the end of it, because a) I’m a dickhead and b) I somehow forgot that people who start fights on the internet also like to continue them. So I kept arguing that my eating wasn’t disordered and she kept insisting that I was promoting orthorexia. Several other people piled in and it all became a bit yucky before the whole thing got deleted.
Look, I don’t want to throw this person under the bus because my post clearly triggered an issue that was close to her heart, but I couldn’t stand idly by while someone publicly accused me of promoting an eating disorder. An eating disorder that was diagnosed from afar via a sum-total of data that included one dopey piss-take about quitting chocolate.
I’m not going to lie. In LCHF circles there ARE people who lean towards disordered eating, and I’ve seen posts in closed Facebook groups authored by people agonising over the fact that they added four strawberries to their Greek yoghurt instead of three. Orthorexia is real and it is damaging, but it is counterproductive to use that label where it is not warranted.
I’ve had a lot of conversations about LCHF over the past couple of months and I’ve noticed that most people’s reactions tend to combine curiosity, skepticism, concern, suspicion, disbelief and/or judgement. So, in light of some of the objections I’ve encountered (and the odd accusation of orthorexia), I thought I’d clarify a few things:
1) I am not trying to lose weight
Not going to lie, my first attraction to LCHF was to lose a few stubborn kilos that had crept on over the years, despite regular daily exercise. I came for the weightloss but stayed for the fact that I feel better, look better and don’t miss all the shitty food I was eating before anyway. My relationship with food is healthier, I’ve kicked my sugar addiction and I like not feeling perpetually hungry any more. The cravings and binges are totally gone, replaced by a feeling of satiety and general wellbeing. If anything, my eating was way more disordered BEFORE I started LCHF, because I’m certainly not polishing off a bag of Allen’s snakes and a whole chocolate bavarian in one sitting anymore. The result? In five months I’ve gone from size 12 jeans to size 8 skinny jeans.
2) LCHF is not a “fad diet”
This is a long-term lifestyle change for me, not some fad diet to drop a shitload of weight. Look, I’m sure that for some people this is a very effective form of dieting, but who am I to tell them what to do? What another person puts in their body has no impact on me whatsoever and is none of my fucking business. I’ve read about the potential long-term impacts of high sugar consumption and it has raised some genuine concerns for me, which is why I am doing this. I could be totally wrong and the sources I’ve read could all be total bullshit, but I see no harm in reducing my intake of processed carbs and refined sugar when I’m getting all of my vital nutrients elsewhere. No hunger, no counting calories, and no restriction on the volume or timing of food = not a diet.
3) No, I have not “cut out an entire food group”
Sigh. I hate this accusation, because a) it’s not actually true and b) it inevitably gets delivered with loads of metaphorical finger-wagging. Just to clear up any misconceptions: “Low carb” does not mean “No carb” and it does not involve the elimination of an entire food group. For me LCHF is primarily about cutting out highly-refined sugars and processed carbohydrates like pasta, bread and rice. (FYI BREAD IS NOT A FOOD GROUP). For all of their deliciousness, these things aren’t exactly superfoods, and no human being ever died because they weren’t getting enough fettucini in their diet. Concerned carb-lovers can rest assured that I’m still getting the carbohydrates I need from other nutritious sources.
4) Why can’t you just eat things “in moderation”?
Aaah yes, the voice of reason! Why can’t we all just eat things in moderation and forget about these nonsense eating philosophies that ask us to restrict this or that? Why can’t we all have the occasional bit of sugar wrapped in starchy carbs and sprinkled with the incinerated remains of a perfect world that doesn’t exist? Here’s the thing about moderation…. Some people are really good at it – kudos to them! But human beings are complicated creatures, and we’re not all great at it. In fact, I suck. I can’t do sugar in moderation. Or smoking. Or cups of tea. I have chosen to eat this way because sugar is addictive to me, in the same way that cigarettes were addictive. The more I have, the more I want.
And just one final thought… My way of eating does not judge your way of eating. The fact that I have chosen one thing does not mean that I think your thing is bad and that you are a lesser person. I do this because it works for me. I talk about it to the people in my life who express their interest in talking about it with me. I’m not here to preach, or to convert or to harangue. I am not here to judge. I am here to share something that might be of benefit to other people too, on the presumption that they will do their own research and speak to their own respective medical professionals. I personally don’t give a fuck what you eat. Enjoy your food and do what works for you.