In my work as a health coach, I frequently meet with groups to talk about healthier eating, and my favorite part of these events is the Q&A. I hear quite a few myths and misconceptions from men and women who are seeking answers to the question: How do I eat better and lose weight?
I hear questions about juicing, fasting, and every diet from Paleo to Atkins to raw veganism; questions about apple cider vinegar, stevia, potatoes, detoxing and coffee enemas. Many folks asking questions are looking for validation on what they believe they already know. Some know, for example, that coffee enemas are "an excellent way to detox your liver and rid your body of excess yeast." How do they know this?
Because they researched it.
And by researched it, I mean to say they Googled it.
Research is "systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions." The conclusions drawn by research have scientific basis behind them--there's a hypothesis, a study of data regarding an intervention, comparison against a control group.
Reading something on Facebook or Googling a topic and reading the top two search results is not research. Coffee enemas are about as useful as...well...I can't even come up with a funny analogy to describe how unbelievably unnecessary--and dangerous--this pseudo-science-advocated "procedure" is. And yet if you google it, you can find articles espousing its usefulness.
Clickbait headlines and diet fads appeal to people looking for easy solutions. Solutions that are sexier and more appealing than eating vegetables or giving up takeout. And there's often a hidden agenda; primarily, there's money to be made on your desire to get fitter, from book and magazine sales to website ads, to supplement and essential oil sales, to personal appearance fees.
How do you know whether that article about the newest cleanse or diet is legitimate? First things first: Give it the sniff test. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Secondly, NPR's On The Media created a handbook for evaluating the validity of health and diet news. I encourage you to print a copy, tape it to the cover of your tablet and refer to it every time you open Facebook. And if you're ready to use evidence-based approaches to adapt a more nutritious diet for a healthier diet, I welcome you to be in touch!