Food blogger Pixie Turner turns on the 'wellness' industry
Wait, hold the front page/put down your toast - popular food blogger Pixie Turner AKA @plantbased_pixie is an actual, real-life nutritionist! Yes, she blogs about food, is as obsessed with avocado as you are, but actually, she kinda knows her shit too. Plus, she's a biochemist, writer and speaker, which meant that she was the perfect person for me to grill on the whole 'wellness' thing. Like, what is it? Is it necessarily a positive label? I asked one of my fave interviewees - and food experts, Laura Thomas PhD - if she could introduce us via email, and of course she came through. So, below Pixie has been kind enough to answer just a few of the questions that have been bugging me about food and this big ol' trillion dollar wellness industry.*
First up, as a kind of 'nutrition for dummies' kinda thing: what is 'good' nutrition?
'Good' nutrition means an overall healthy, balanced diet; not the inclusion or exclusion of specific foods. This looks different on everyone, but tends to include a variety of fruit and vegetables, plant and/or animal proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats from things like avocados, olive oil and nuts. It also includes a little of what I like to call 'soul food' - food that makes you happy and feeds your soul, regardless of nutritional content, because food is so much more than that!
The worlds of health, fitness and beauty have collided and we are now, more than ever, seeing people and products linking 'good' skin to what we eat, and how we live. Although these three different industries seem quite clear in their subject matter, the word 'wellness' is often tagged alongside them. But what is wellness to you?
I think wellness wants to be seen as the pursuit of optimum health, which includes food, fitness, beauty, mental health, and mindfulness. But, especially health, fitness, and beauty. And it is succeeding I think, but at the cost of accessibility, diversity, and realism. 'Wellness' by this standard is becoming ever more elitist - more white, middle-class, and impossible to achieve. It's the idea that the more money you throw at your health, the healthier you'll become. But it completely misses the point of wellness, which is that health is a basic human right, and shouldn't be discriminated on the basis of income. The wellness industry has hijacked the true meaning of 'wellness' and as such I'm not a fan. It's not helping anyone except those who can afford it, and on a population level it's not reaching the people who need it most.
I don't believe in 'wellness'; I believe in health, and how unique that is to every person. As I said above, I think the wellness industry has hijacked the word 'wellness' and twisted it into something elitist and obsessive. Essentially, 'wellness' now encompasses pretty much everything I hate: elitism, fads, misinformation, a focus on aesthetics, above everything. It ranges from the benign (taking a supplement likely won't hurt you) to the downright dangerous and life-threatening (false cancer cures).
What is your everyday approach to food ?
Moderation in all things! I believe foods should make you happy as well as healthy, otherwise you're not really healthy at all. Dichotomising foods into 'good' and 'bad'; 'clean' and 'dirty', is unhelpful and subjective. Wholegrains are an excellent source of fibre, slow-release energy, and B-vitamins, but to someone with coeliac disease they can cause huge issues. Kale is hailed as the ultimate health food, but too much of it can cause thyroid issues. Too many bananas can lead to potassium poisoning. Even too much water can kill you!
Finally, what's the one food fad that you'd love to see the back of?
There are just too many to choose from, but if I had to choose one, it would be the idea that you have to eat 'alkaline' for optimum health, as this has led to quack cancer therapies and people with little to no nutritional qualifications spouting rubbish left right and centre.
*Due to time constraints, I never got to shoot my own pix of Pixie, so everything you see here has been borrowed from her Instagram.