did you see “smash the wellness industry” in yesterday’s NYT opinion section?
it’s a piece that echoes many of my own sentiments & concerns in its assessment of the “wellness” industry as the latest, veiled iteration of a predatory diet industry. however, as a holistic practitioner who does use the term “wellness” to describe my approach, i think there’s more to the conversation.
i struggled with eating disorders for nearly 20 years, and while the diet industry didn’t unilaterally cause them, it certainly fueled them and normalized their dysfunction. following diet culture blueprints, my food vocabulary was restricted to terms like “good/bad,” “ok/not ok” & “safe/unsafe,” and i clung to calorie counting as if it were the buoy keeping me from drowning.
so i completely agree with the author that a growing “wellness” industry feeding us a prescriptive, potentially dysfunctional idea of “health,” that keeps us from sensing into our bodies and learning how to trust & honor our own cues, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
however, i’ll argue that this use of the term “wellness” has been appropriated–and subsequently distorted–from those of us who practice in a way that *does* listen to the body, hold its needs, and make sure that it is receiving what it’s asking for.
practitioners like me *do* employ intuitive eating in our therapeutic practices. we also rewrite the narrative of what foods are “healthy”–making space for enjoying nourishing, nutrient rich foods–and challenge the use of the term “unhealthy” as a label for both foods & people.
in fact, the term wellness is what made my eating disorder recovery possible. it shifted me away from “healthy,” which was concerned with how i measured up to ideas about and metrics of “health,” not with how i felt. my practitioners taught me that my body had a unique set of needs in which i would need to become literate, and helped me explore how to say “yes” to foods, with an emphasis on those that could promote healing from years of malnutrition, stress & illness.
this is only a small piece of a BIG & important conversation that i think we should be continuing; i look forward to more articles, posts & comments 💕