Ramblings 5.8.18: Can Diets Cause Psychological Damage?

My friend Trevor Kashey, a brilliant nutritionist, was recently asked whether restrictive diets like Whole30 or Paleo can cause psychological trauma. His answer is worth reading:

From a scientific standpoint, it’s a correlation/causation problem. I don’t think restrictive diets causes psychological disfunction as much as they draw psychologically unstable people. 

If you’re using balloons and interpretive dance to get people to eat vegetables, like a lot of these diets do, then there’s probably something up with the people who need that sort of stimulation. So to me, restrictive diets don’t cause psychological instability, but the type of people who are obsessed with restrictive diets are probably more unstable by default. 

They draw a type of all-or-nothing person, which is also why some people get freakishly fantastic results—because they’re all in. At the same time, the same all-in person, when their environment is not perfect, they act like total dip shits. ‘Oh, I forgot my Tupperware of chicken and vegetables at home. Life is over, I’m getting Little Caesars,’ is a rather common response (ed’s note: This is called the “disinhibition effect.”). If their life isn’t going perfect, then the first thing that goes out the window is the precious diet. And then people blame the diet for causing psychological dysfunction. But the reality is many people just don’t have the capacity to cope with psychological stressors, and they use food as a tool to cope. That’s not the diet’s fault. That’s a problem that started when the person’s mom force fed her shitty broccoli. Again, correlation is not causation. 

I’m a capitalist. People need to make informed decisions and businesses are not charities. And at the same time, the government makes perfectly reasonable nutrition recommendations that people choose to ignore. Nutrition education is out there, and people refuse to see it and choose restrictive song and dance instead.
— -Trevor Kashey