Are Chinese obsessed with food

Nutritionist who once preached clean eating now warns against it

Pixie Turner

  • Once a wellness clean eating guru, Pixie Turner is now a certified nutritionist.
  • She used to get trapped in the world of limited nutrition and developed an eating disorder. Now she shares with her 122,000 followers how important it is not to feel shame or guilt when eating.
  • She wants to create a greater awareness of the dangers of following bloggers who have no medical or scientific knowledge and who spread lies and misinformation on their social media profiles, as Turner once did.
  • You can find more articles from Business Insider here.

Once, Pixie Turner snuck out of her college class earlier. She wanted to eat a plate of vegetables by herself because she could not cope with the idea of ​​her friends who wanted to take her to the Chinese buffet for her birthday. Turner remembered the moment. At the time she was struggling with her orthorexia, her pathological fixation on eating “pure” or “clean”.

The following year, when she turned 22, her mother brought her a raw, vegan birthday cake from London. "I think we ate maybe half of it because it was very expensive and we felt we had to, but it didn't taste good," Turner tells Insider. “It didn't taste like a chocolate cake. And, when I think back to it, I wish I had a really great, fine chocolate fudge cake. That would have been so much better. "

“Clean eating” and nutrition on Instagram

Turner entered the world of wellness bloggers on Instagram about six years ago. At that time, trends such as “clean eating” - where you eat raw vegetables in particular and cut almost everything else in your diet - reached their peak.

Her Instagram account, Plant Based Pixie, quickly had thousands of followers who relied on her health and nutrition advice. She was trapped in the elite group of wellness gurus who took over social media.

It started with the trend of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food - so far, so healthy. Many social media bloggers made the trend more famous. Some of the most prominent were Ella Mills from Deliciously Ella, the Hemsly sisters, Amelia Freer, and Madleine Shaw. They urged those who read the texts under their Instagram posts and their recipe books to lead a vegan “lifestyle” that is characterized by self-love and by “finding one's shine”.

She ate things that she actually didn't like

But while the followers wanted to experience a positive change, the critics of this wellness trend quickly became louder. Many Instagrammers would spread an unhealthy and unreachable body image as well as a lot of misinformation behind their naive demeanor. Examples are that gluten is bad for your digestion, detox tea is your savior and acidic foods cause illness.

Turner was one of the people who spread such myths and found more and more listeners for them. But while she enjoyed the comments from those impressed with her new health kick, she was far from happy in real life.

Also read: 6 old-fashioned wisdoms about losing weight that are actually true

She tells Insider that when she thinks back on where she sometimes ate, she can't believe she did that back then.

"We went to these cafes in Notting Hill and Covent Garden and got these smoothies for ten pounds (Editor's note: about eleven euros), which contained moss, ”she says. “Why the hell would I want to drink moss? That sounds totally disgusting. And they were. It was unbearably disgusting, but we all pretended that everything was fine and that we all loved her. "

All of her friends would have maintained a facade and took photos for their Instagram profiles. Under them they wrote how delicious raw vegan pancakes are.

Pixie Turner

Turner feels responsible to her followers

Meanwhile, Turner's Instagram profile, which has 122,000 followers, looks very different. With a degree in nutritional science, she has science-based information. In one post she explains, for example, that we would not be able to eat or drink anything if we followed every bad health advice available on the Internet. Water included.

She says that she feels somewhat guilty to her followers - most of whom have stayed despite their change of direction - for creating and misleading posts about healthy green juices and macha powders.

"Those were the ones who should have heard the most, what I have to say most of all now," she says. "That's why I feel partly responsible for the fact that you may have believed things that I told you were true, but that weren't."

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She went on with her diet without knowing much about it

At first, Turner stopped eating meat and fish then. Then she left out the milk, eggs, soy, and refined sugar. She was obsessed with eating "clean" but had no idea what she was really going to let into her body and what not.

She says she had the "wrong intentions" from the start. But she kept going because she had already invested so much time and money. Many of her friends were in the same world. If she had given up her lifestyle, it might also have meant losing friends.

"It would mean letting go of a part of yourself, and it would almost mean telling yourself that it wasn't worth it," she says. "That felt impossible at the time."

Expert classifies orthorexia as an eating disorder

Author, therapist and Youtuber Kati Morton specializes in treating people with eating disorders. According to her, orthorexia is not a diagnosis of the DSM - a widely used catalog for defining and diagnosing mental illness. However, it could be referred to as anorexia nervosa, i.e. anorexia, because people to whom orthorexia applies would tend to severely restrict themselves.

For example, some people, like Turner, restrict themselves in what they eat and drink because, due to trending diets and incorrect studies, they fear that it may not be healthy. Others stop eating certain foods for other reasons, such as being very environmentally conscious.

Eating disorder as a result of trauma

“Eating disorders are coping strategies. I don't think they'll ever come from a health promoting position, ”Morton tells Insider. “I have a number of friends who are very environmentally conscious and that doesn't stop them from eating.

It's not necessarily about food. One of the most common reasons someone develops an eating disorder is because they have some form of difficulty coping with trauma.

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"It's like, 'I put so much of my energy into it that I can't focus on anything that really upsets me," says Morton. "It's a mental disorder that you haven't given yourself time to deal with."

Some people take refuge in alcohol or gambling to numb their real feelings. Some live it up or go on a shopping spree. Those who develop an eating disorder exert control over their bodies this way.

Pixie Turner

Turner changed her diet because of a health crisis.

"I was already in a vulnerable position in the sense that I was worried about my health," she says. “I've also been a lifelong perfectionist. That always makes everything a bit more difficult because you have extremely high standards and everything is black and white. If you don't do it perfectly, you are a failure. "

In a way, her heightened fear for her health, the rapidly expanding wellness industry, and her penchant for being too specific was an explosive mix for getting her into this situation and keeping her trapped in it for so long.

Don't think about food for too long every day

What makes orthorexia particularly complicated is that there is nothing inherently wrong with eating healthy. To make the difference better, Morton always asks her patients, "How much of your daily time do you spend thinking about food?"

“Because that really shouldn't be that much,” she says. “You or I might say one percent. That is very minimal. But in people with eating disorders, it takes up about 90 percent of their brain capacity. "

"I advise people to pay attention to whether their reaction to a food-related issue is stronger than warranted," says Morton. "For example, if you can't know where something is coming from, or if it's not gluten-free and you go crazy."

People with eating disorders can get very angry when they lose this control over their food. Because this takes away their way of coping with them.

"All the pain or anger or whatever they're trying to hide then comes up," she says. "It will break out if you don't allow them what the eating disorder wants ... It's about control, their rituals over eating and when something is not what they want."

While traveling, Turner began to reconsider her attitudes

Everything started to change at Turner when she started traveling after graduating from college. At home in the UK she was used to having a stash of superfood powders sponsored by various wellness brands. But she had to limit these expectations when she backpacked through India.

She began to wonder if all of the foods she restricted herself on were really as toxic as she thought they were. By the time she reached Australia, many “clean” foods were readily available, but she was more open to other perspectives on her diet.

“The biggest turning point, the moment that it dawned on me, was when I was in a car with a bunch of wellness bloggers and one of them said, 'I wouldn't dream of vaccinating my kids let '”she says. “I was so shocked that they were so convinced that this seemed easy and normal. I knew that was just wrong and so harmful. "

Around the same time, Belle Gibson, the proponent of pseudoscience who said they cured their cancer through their diet, was revealed to be a scam.

First, when she heard that her friends supported Gibson despite the news, Turner thought she couldn't be associated with people who spread dangerous ideas. Second, if they believed in it, where else were they wrong?

Turner found out more and changed her view of "clean eating"

"I started re-checking everything I thought I knew about food and my diet," says Turner. "And gradually I fell away from all my different ideas."

In 2016 Turner wrote a blog post with the headline "I was wrong, and that's ok", in German that means "I was wrong and that's ok". She distanced herself from some of her earlier statements, such as that sugar is bad and that "superfood" is irreplaceable. In her blog post, she announced that she would go in a different direction from now on.

She also thought, “If I want to keep writing about it, I need a qualification that sets me apart from these wellness bloggers.” So she got her Masters degree in Nutritional Science. She has also written a book called "The Wellness Rebel".

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Turner now works with other people struggling with orthorexia. She helps them check their view of food with exposure therapy. She knows how difficult it can be to acknowledge that. Especially when someone is hiding behind it, specifically dealing with wellness and health.

“When I was in the middle of it, there was nothing that could have got me out,” she says. “I couldn't say anything to my 22 year old self. It would just ignore me. There was absolutely no point in saying anything because I even thought I knew more than my family doctor did. The audacity is just unbelievable. "

In the end, orthorexia is compulsive, rigid and opinionated, she says. So if she could go back to advise her 22 year old self, hopefully that self would go in a different direction if it realized the truth.

In a way, Turner is grateful for what she went through because she eventually ended up in a job she loves and sees a real purpose in it. But she also doesn't want anyone to think that excuses the pain she may have caused someone who got into the world of "clean eating" because of her Instagram profile.

Instead of feeding puppies on Instagram

“I don't want people to think they have to go through something like this to get out on the other side, because you definitely don't have to,” she says. “Because it sucked and I said some really stupid things. It shouldn't be glorified or seem like a good thing in any way. "

Also read: 8 Myths About Eggs That You Should No Longer Believe

The first thing Turner makes their clients do is remove anyone from their feeds who makes the person feel bad about themselves. They are then replaced with nature and animal photos. In fact, she advises everyone to do this at least twice a year.

"Because it's practically impossible to feel bad looking at photos of puppies," she says. “Most of my Instagram feed has absolutely nothing to do with food anymore. I follow a few food magazines that post photos of wonderful cakes and things, but not many in terms of health. "

If you might be affected by eating disorders or if you know someone, you can find out more on the website of the Federal Center for Health Education. There you will also find counseling offers and a number for a telephone counseling offer.

This article was translated from English by Katharina Maß. You can find the original here.