The Unhealthy Truth Behind Wellness Culture..and why diets are not the answer to the complex issue of food insecurity and obesity.
Wellness culture puts the majority of the population—who can’t afford kale and kombucha, and who suffer from the kind of life stresses that make them time-poor—into the category of ‘bad’.
Wellness-approved 'nourishing' foods are often elitist and expensive. And a luxury menu requires the luxury of time. There is a whole sub-genre of wellness culture dedicated to food prepping.
It’s perhaps surprising, then, that this year’s World Food Day on Wednesday 16 October is focused on healthy eating, with the theme ‘Healthy Eating for a Zero Hunger World’.
This UN initiative is hinting at the complexities involved around eating a truly healthy diet. ‘Two very important things help us to decide what we eat: how much it costs and how easy it is to find,’ says the UN’s Zero Hunger website.
At the same time, it makes the shocking statement that ‘most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than hunger.’
This feels like two opposing truths: people don’t have enough to eat. But it is often these people who are dying from obesity.
This has been dubbed the hunger-obesity paradox: ‘The reality is that hunger and being overweight are linked and it affects millions of children and adults,’ says Taylor Wolfram of the Academy of Nutrients and Dietetics.
‘Food insecurity is when there is a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. But food insecurity could also mean someone is getting enough to eat in terms of calories but the quality, variety and desirability of their food is lacking.’
At a global level, the lack of access to nutritious food is complex, and as wide-ranging as mass farming practices. The UN gives an eye-opening explanation of what is—ironically—dubbed the Green Revolution (not a good thing):
‘Fifty years ago the world was worried about how to feed everyone, so a plan was made to grow as much food as possible, as quickly as possible.’ The result was cheap crops that grew fast, but stripped our natural resources in the process. The UN is now advocating for a new Brown Revolution (a good thing!), focused on creating healthy soils that produce more nutrients in our food.
It is calling on governments to ‘provide healthier and sustainable diets at an affordable price’, and asking the business sector to ‘offer safe and nutritious food choices that help people to have a healthy diet’.
This seems complex and perhaps unattainable. But companies such as Countdown are showing that there are simple, effective ways to begin doing this. We love seeing the free fruit baskets for kids at Countdown Supermarkets. Sure, it doesn’t stop our kids nagging us for junk food all the way around. Every. Single. Aisle. But it makes something as simple as fruit an easy option, for every child.
Imagine if every food-based business started to make such simple steps?
We do need to become healthier eaters, on a global scale. But the answer is not in promoting more diets and elitist foods. The answer is in creating a world where nutritious food is available to everyone.
The Foodbank Project is deeply committed to this cause. That’s why we focus on great food and fresh choices in all our food packages.
To celebrate World Food Day, we’re launching a special ‘Fruit and Vege' bundle focused on fresh fruit and vegetables.
Together we can make sure everyone gets to eat in a way that comforts both the body and mind.