As a health and medical writer, writing credible, accessible and scientifically-backed health information is my top priority.

The reason that evidence-based, well-researched health content is at the heart of all I do is that I have experienced first-hand the devastating effects that following the wrong health information can have on your physical, emotional and mental health.

I know I am not alone in this. There have been countless people who have followed health advice that was not only misguided, but in some instances downright dangerous, and the devastating effects were felt for years or even decades.

Many people don’t get to share their stories, but I wanted to share mine. Because when we share our story with the world, we shine a light upon the things that we can change. The things that must change.

Find out the REAL reason I have no time for bullsh*t health information Click To Tweet

A plethora of diets

When I was 4 years old, someone made a comment about me being ‘chubby’. For those of you who were around in the 70s, you’d know that being labelled as ‘chubby’ or ‘fat’ (no one used the word ‘overweight’) was worse than being called a criminal. It was the ultimate insult and the thing that you didn’t want to be.

Even though I was a normal, healthy 4-year old, my little-girl self couldn’t process any of what had been said, and so from that moment on, I believed I was fat and always felt uncomfortable in my body.

Fast-forward 10 years and I discovered that there was a solution to my problem — diets. And what a plethora of diets you could choose from. Unfortunately, none of them really stacked up in terms of scientific evidence. It was more a case of celebrities having followed a particular plan and ended up losing weight, and so they promoted their diet, making lots of money in the process and gaining even more fame. Here are just a few that you could choose from:

  • Cabbage soup diet – where all you ate was cabbage soup and water…and farted a lot.
  • Grapefruit diet — it was a popular belief that grapefruit could burn fat, and so before every meal, you were supposed to eat half a grapefruit. No one told you that grapefruit could interact with some prescription drugs or that the acid from the fruit could leave you with a rash around your mouth.
  • Cottage cheese diet — so you wouldn’t end up with ‘cottage-cheese’ thighs, it was recommended you ate it instead. Very low in fat yes. But low in fibre with a high chance of constipation.
  • Beverley Hills diet — a 35-day diet that required you to eat only fruit for the first 10 days and eat specific fruits in a specific order. How boring. According to the diet combining different types of foods was bad. What a shame no one seemed to think that the circulation issues people developed along with constant diarrhoea was bad.
  • Elizabeth Taylor’s diet — this one involved a peanut butter and steak sandwich, as well as tuna mixed with tomato pasta, mayo and grapefruit. I’m not sure anyone really knew why.
  • Fit for life diet — another diet that suggested you avoid certain food combinations. Heaven forbid you consume carbs and protein in the same meal.
  • The Atkins diet — this one has evolved over the years but it has always focused on low-carbs. So definitely no rice, potato or pasta for you!

As well as these specific diets, there were the meal replacements that promised rapid weight loss if you mixed some god-awful powder in water or ate some minuscule processed bar that stuck to the roof of your mouth like cardboard, instead of eating real food. One that has stuck in my mind to this day was an ad for Limits – a calorie-controlled biscuit diet. Imagine being able to lose weight eating cookies! Here’s a sample of one of their ads from 1986.

 

 

And of course, there were the weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig which re-invented themselves according to the latest diet fad and there were plenty of those — low-fat, no fat, sugar-free, carb-free, taste-free, fun-free.

Want to watch a cringe-worthy diet ad from the 1980s? Read my blog Click To Tweet

No facts in sight

It all sounds comical, right?

But for a teenage girl who was self-conscious about her body nothing about it was funny. And none of the health advice gave us the facts.

Not once were we told that depriving yourself of food would lead to binges – and so when we binged because our body was trying to keep us alive, we felt out of control and naughty; a narrative that the diet industry perpetuated.

We were never told that constant dieting would screw up our metabolism which would make it harder and harder to lose weight, and eventually cause weight gain — the very problem dieting was supposed to solve.

And no one ever talked about the shame, embarrassment and self-loathing we’d end up developing when these diets never worked. That’s because we were told that it wasn’t the diet that was the problem, it was us.

The over-riding message was that to be valued and worthy, you needed to look like a supermodel – not that you needed to be well, have energy and a properly functioning body.

And so my dieting days began.

The most important message to deliver wasn't helpful, truthful health information. It was that to be valued and worthy you needed to look like a supermodel. Click To Tweet

Dieting for decades

One of the first diets I did was called “Drop a dress size in 7 days”. Totally ridiculous really, but that’s what we were told was possible. So I embarked on this diet, hating everything that I had to eat and feeling hungry for the whole week.

Did I drop a dress size? No

Did I lose a little bit of my soul? Yes

Did I believe that I was to blame for not being able to lose any weight? Hell yes!

And so I looked for the next diet, and the next one and then the next one. And with every failed diet, I felt more unworthy than the last because every diet made me feel that if I didn’t lose weight, it was my fault.

So I continued to go back to diets with the hope that one day I’d be ‘good enough’ to stick to the diet and lose weight.

My dieting lasted for almost 35 years. Ironically, I didn’t have a weight problem when I started dieting (it was all in my head), but I did when I stopped. Decades of food restriction, bingeing, and starving myself had wreaked havoc on my metabolism.

I had also developed a poor relationship with food. I was afraid that unless I continued to restrict food, I’d gain weight. I demonised foods and was always trying to do the caloric math when I went to social occasions or family celebrations. I became so obsessed with the scales that I would weigh myself up to 6 times a day!

But the emotional weight that I carried weighed far heavier than the physical weight. I felt unworthy, disgusting, frumpy, depressed, frustrated, embarrassed and ashamed. I never wanted to be in photos and constantly worried about what I looked like.

If I knew then what I know now

If I knew then what I know now, I would never have started dieting in the first place.

If we were told that dieting screws up our metabolism, robs us of our health and causes poor mental health none of us would ever go on a diet. But we’re not told that which is why the diet and weight loss industry is booming.

Unfortunately, millions of people who struggle with diets and weight, have been sold a lie.

A lie based on greed, rather than a desire to really help people with their health.

Because science has proved that dieting doesn’t work for long-term weight loss.

Turning my mess into a message

I have carried shame and embarrassment around my body for more than 45 years. For most of that time, I believed that my weight problems were my fault. That there was something intrinsically wrong with me because despite following mainstream health advice, I continued to struggle with my weight.

However, what I’ve learned is that I developed a weight problem, a poor metabolism, compromised emotional and mental health, along with a poor relationship with food because I was given inaccurate health advice in the first place.

And so were millions of other people.

Imagine the difference it would have made if we were told the truth all along.

I developed a weight problem, a poor metabolism, compromised emotional and mental health, along with a poor relationship with food because I was given inaccurate health advice. Click To Tweet

What makes me really angry though, is that it’s still happening today.

I see so many people continuing to follow inaccurate and dangerous advice on how to lose weight that I know will only lead to more pain and suffering.

Now imagine the consequences of people following the wrong advice when it comes to cancer treatment, kidney disease or stroke prevention. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

You only have to look at the number of ridiculous claims the anti-vax cult have been spewing forth of late in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations. Claims that everyone who is vaccinated will be dead in 5 years, stories that vaccinated people give off radiation for 2 days after they’ve been jabbed, and stupid theories that vaccinated people pass vaccine toxins to unvaccinated people during sex are just some of the hundreds doing the rounds.

And then there are those like Paleo Pete Evans (who I have no time for) and more recently, his surfing buddy Kelly Slater claiming they know more about medicine and health than any doctor. It’s both laughable and alarming.

Don't get your health advice from the wellness warriors, health bloggers, celebrities or those with an agenda. Get it from a credible, trusted source. Click To Tweet

How I healed

The good news is that I have healed from the trauma of being labelled chubby and I am no longer ashamed of what was said about me and how I dealt with it.

I have ditched the diet mindset for good and will never, ever contemplate another diet. I have developed a good relationship with food and can comfortably eat anything without guilt or fear.

Most importantly, I have dropped all the emotional weight that I was carrying around with me and finally understand that I don’t need to look a certain way, or weigh a certain amount to be worthy – that I was worthy all along, and will continue to be worthy, no matter what I look like or what I weigh.

It has taken 4 years of consistent work and confronting my fears, beliefs and identity to do this. But it has all been worth it If you’re in a similar situation to where I was and have been burned by dieting and the advice you’ve been given regarding weight loss has done more harm than good, I highly recommend Imani Tribe Transformations, who have helped me get to where I am today.

My commitment as a health and medical writer

Wellness warriors, self-professed health bloggers, and salespeople trying to sell the latest fad or make a quick buck will make all sorts of claims, many of which are simply not true.

But I take a different approach.

I’ll tell the truth even if it’s not popular, or trendy, or sexy.

I take the time to fully research and understand your health topic, and then write your health message, using evidence-based and best-practice information.

I ensure that health content I deliver is accurate, up-to-date and draws upon the latest peer-reviewed research.

I’m also great at taking complex medical information and translating it into content that the average person can understand.

And of course, all content is sourced from credible health institutions and organisations, and all copy includes a list of references, where appropriate.

Writing health and medical information is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Too many people suffer from poor health as it is. The last thing I want to do is add to their suffering by writing health and medical information that is inaccurate and not based on scientific evidence.

I am absolutely committed to writing health copy that speaks to patients and the wider community. Copy that they can rely on and trust, as well as understand so they can change their lives for the better.

Content that is part of the solution, not the problem.

Content that is fact, not fiction.

If you’re looking for an experienced health and medical writer to help you be seen as the trusted health authority in your field, get in touch with me.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

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