Why Crowdsourcing Weight Loss Advice Sucks
It Sucks Because It’s Dangerous.
I see this happen multiple times a week in the various groups that I also participate in. They are mostly fashion or self-help focused groups that have turned into more of a community of moms helping each other out with anything and everything. I love the general collective spirit of these groups, but the weight loss posts always make me cringe hard AF.
So, let’s talk about the dangers of crowdsourcing weight loss advice from Facebook groups.
First, you’ll see a post like this one:
“Can we talk about weight loss? I have about 40 lbs to lose. I have been on and off Keto for about a year but always have a hard time sticking with it long enough to keep the weight off. I am wanting to eat healthy over all and lose the weight but I need to do something I can keep doing! I might just try low carb. I am lost bc my weight is the number one thing I struggle with every single day. Ladies who have successfully lost weight, how did you do it?!”
And then 442 different responses of what works.
“Work on self love. The more you can do this the healthier choices you will want to make. Sounds simple and not the answer but I believe it is.💗”
Some full of self-promotion.
Some eh...not so much.
“Start with clean food. No added sugar, wheat, other grains, etc. remove ALL processed food from your house 😃 just doing that is HUGE!!!! That is the main factor in all ways of eating. The last 10% is the "rules" of vegetarian, Keto, paleo, etc....... eat real food. 😃”
“I am ketoish but more low carb, high fat. If I try to stay strict keto i lose my mind. I'm down 9 pounds since October 5 so I feel like I've finally found my groove. Good luck!”
P.S. What does that even mean? Keto is low carb, high fat.
Some just f’in condescending.
“PSA LADIES: All you need to do is eat clean foods in a calorie deficit and lift some darn weights. THATS IT!! 🤘”
And that’s really just the tipping point. I’ve seen blanket recommendations for countless detoxes, cleanses, fasts, The Cookie Diet, a gel patch for hormone regulation, The Parasite Diet, and “hey, just have willpower”. Yeah, ok! None of these recommendations are helpful. Like AT ALL.
I mean, I know (or like to believe) that the intent for providing these recommendations is good, however the bigger picture is missing here.
Here are 3 reasons why you should think twice before crowdsourcing weight loss advice:
WHAT MAY HAVE WORKED FOR ONE IS NOT GUARANTEED TO WORK FOR ANOTHER
Just like medicine, therapy, or really anything in life, weight loss is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach or simple and easy as “just do this”. We all live different lives. My schedule, metabolism, habits, financial resources, DNA, culture, food preferences, access to food, medical, physical and emotional history, and infinite other things are different from yours. We here all the time how we are all so unique. How we shouldn’t ever try to be like someone else because we are all so different. So, why has society generalized nutrition and weight loss advice into something that is a one size fits all approach? Why is it that the notion that there is nutrition and weight loss science is lost? The online world is flooded with anyone and everyone who deem themselves to an “expert” in nutrition just because they read some book, consulted Dr. Google, had some success or is part of a get-rich-quick scheme. What’s missing from most of these so-called-experts is the knowledge and understanding of nutritional biochemistry and weight loss science. Even the majority of doctors don’t get the proper training on nutrition. A 2015 study in the Journal of Biomedical Education showed that 71% of medical schools failed to meet the minimum requirements for nutrition education. But I get it. We have been conditioned to think that we should all look a certain way to be healthy or that reaching an “ideal” weight should be easy if we just follow these rules. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and it IS 100% a highly personal journey.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON BEHIND CLOSED DOORS OF THEIR JOURNEY
Crowdsourcing doesn’t really allow for an in-depth 1:1 conversation of what their journey was really like. Was it hard as hell? Was it full of negative emotions? Was there guilt? Was it laiden with extreme rules and restrictions? Was it nourishing? Did they become obsessed? Did they ever “cheat” and eat dirty food? How long did it take? Did they binge? Did they purge? Did they engage in activities that were not healthy mentally? What else was going on in their lives? Were they happy or miserable? Did the weight stay off?
Honestly, we have no clue what is really going on behind closed doors. Success stories are amazing to see and acknowledge, but are not 100% transferable. The journey is different for everyone. And trust me, it’s not always what it seems.
THE ADVICE IS OFTEN SHITTY AND LEADS TO GUILT AND SHAME
As you can see from the bad advice at the top of the post, many times it’s just plain shitty advice. I mean seriously, what does eating clean even mean? Don’t eat processed food? Technically, everything is processed. Pulling a piece of fruit off the tree and washing it is processing it. And what, if I don’t eat clean, then I’m eating dirty? It’s laden with guilt and shame. What about following a no sugar diet? In theory, it sounds great but what if it’s my birthday and I want a piece of cake? I feel guilty for wanting the cake. I feel guilty if I actually eat the cake. I feel guilty for letting myself down. I feel guilty for blowing my diet.
So, Now What?
Unfortunately, if it's not something that you can stay on for the rest of your life and still enjoy your life, then it's most likely not going to work for the long term. There’s a saying that if the diet is too hard or complicated, you won't even start it. And if the diets so restrictive, you won't finish it. And and that's really true.
The key to any change is to really look at a holistic view of what’s going on in YOUR life. To identify areas where you struggle, where you want to make improvements, and what habits you need to unlearn and work to heal. Chances are that if you’ve been a chronic dieter, you may need to make peace with food and your body. That starts with saying no crazy restrictive diets.
You owe it to yourself to get rid of all that mental anguish around food, and dieting, and what your body looks like.
I've been there. I used to obsess over every single thing that I ate and drank. I used to have anxiety when going to social events and obsess over what to eat. Wondering what was going to be there, what I could eat that wouldn’t throw me over the edge. I mean, my mind was 95% always thinking about food and my body. So, it’s no wonder I could never get anything else done. I could never be present for my family, I couldn't be present for my friends, I couldn't be present for my kids. And I sure as hell couldn't be present for myself and what I wanted to do with my life.
As you think about nutrition, weight loss, your health goals and where your journey leads, I'm not saying that my solution is the answer to your problems. Even though I think it’s bomb-ass and totally works, I’m not for everyone and that’s OK! But I do caution you in seeking advice from people that aren't professionals. And by professionals, I don't just mean dietitians. I'm all for other professionals, who have extensive knowledge and expertise, playing in the field. But, you know, please think twice before listening to advice from just anybody who claims to have success without doing some more research and asking yourself if you have enough information to make a valid decision. Remember, you don't know what's going to happen with them in two months or honestly, even a week. Maybe they're suggesting keto now, but next week they quit keto because it’s not sustainable for them.