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I’m back to exercising regularly in groups, which means I’m back to hearing about other people’s disordered eating.

Dude next to me, the other night, was raving about his protein drink with almond milk. I also listened to a detailed breakdown on the different varieties of coconut water before a Flywheel class. And two chicks at Orangetheory were talking about their amazing weight loss results with a Himalayan salt flush.

A salt flush is what they give you before a colonoscopy, but you don’t know that in your 20s.

I’m of the mindset that real food isn’t the enemy. If you go around thinking that real food is the enemy, you fall into a marketing trap that is built to trick you into spending your hard-earned dollars on fake food — like supplements and ingredients created in a laboratory — instead of real food that, for the most part, occurs in nature.

I’m a vegetarian, which can be its own form of disordered eating, so I don’t have a lot of room to judge other people. So I’m not judging. And there is value in cutting out sugar and swapping out animal fats for leaner fats. I’m on board with all of this. Also, bodies are weird. People have food allergies. Do what you think you need to do to survive.

But my fellow fitness nerds lose me with drinks, shakes, supplements, bars, food you eat because it has a certain color, food you avoid because it has a particular texture, and food labeled as an “allergic ingredient” because you’re always bloated.

You’re not always bloated. You’re not fat. You aren’t ugly. You’re getting older, but getting older is a privilege. You probably don’t need to lose 20 pounds, and, if you do, you won’t lose it on some fad diet. Go ahead and cut out extra bread, fine, but also talk to someone in your area who is a highly-regarded nutritionist.

But nobody is meant to live on six-pump soy chai lattes and protein bars, unlike some of the yoga instructors I’ve met in my life. If you find yourself trying to stave off hunger through caffeine, the best life advice I’ve ever been given is to listen to your body and eat more food and drink less coffee or five-hour energy drinks.

Sugar isn’t bad. Salt isn’t bad. Fat isn’t bad. Food isn’t the enemy. A modified diet of herbal supplements and Diet Water Zero Lite® is the enemy, and it’s also just another form of lottery thinking.

So get moving, get active, and stop looking in the mirror or at old Facebook photos. What matters is this moment, and, at this moment, I’d love to see you join me in a group fitness class. Wouldn’t that be more fun that eating chia seeds and drinking alkaline water, which is just regular f–king water?!

Yes, yes it would.

7 Responses to Fake Food is the Enemy #wellnesswednesday
  1. GenerationXpert

    I completely stopped dieting, became VERY conscious of what my body is hungry for, and lost 30 lbs. I eat a big lunch and small dinner everyday. I don’t eat any fake foods. I could still use to lose a few more, but I’m 45, I like to cook, and I’m good where I am.

  2. Andi Bednorz

    All I can say is, “YES!”. I really enjoy your column and find myself agreeing with you often.

  3. WTF, HR?

    Co-sign everything here. But this is also important to remember: exercise doesn’t really effect weight loss:

    www.sciencealert.com/the-science-is-in-exercise-won-t-help-you-lose-much-weight

  4. Kelly O

    That’s one reason I stopped going to Weight Watchers. Even though my leader was good about talking about eating real food – even *gasp* real butter – the marketing materials and coupons for boxed stuff was aggressive.

    I’m eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. Real foods that I could go in a garden and pick, in theory. Drinking tons of water. (And, let’s be real, coffee, because I can’t give up all my vices at once.)

    Exercise is important to me, so I rejoined a gym and am starting classes in addition to very awkward attempts at running. Whether it scientifically helps or not, it makes me feel better.

    (And I’m sorry not sorry yoga instructor. Soy milk is gross. If I have to choose, I just won’t drink it. I’ve tried.)

  5. Franny

    Same as GenerationXpert. It’s been no trouble to keep it off, because I’m not drama about it. I eat for nutrition, and I like pie. And I’m having cookies from the breakroom right now. I could lose more weight. But whatever. It’s fine.

  6. Tracy Whitmore

    Thank you! Sure hoping our paths cross sometime and we can go for a good old-fashioned run 🙂

    • ruettimann

      That would be great!