On TV it all looks so easy. Dr. Oz debut’s the ‘Magic Pill to Stop Aging’[i] and proclaims numerous other miracle pills that will to strip the weight off you with no ‘no exercise, no diet and no effort’. They tell you it’s all because of some nutrient or another found only in an exotic tropical fruit[ii] that only grows on a remote island that you probably haven’t heard of. Amazing. The quick fix you were looking for and it will only cost you $69.99! Or what about those bars that supress your appetite? Are you also having a hard time sleeping? Why not try the newest Buckley’s sleep aid? Problem solved! But are these quick fixes really solutions? Maybe it helps you to drop 5 pounds in a week, or maybe it helps you sleep more soundly for a week, but in 6 months I’m betting that weight comes crawling back and that your sleep patterns become worse than ever. What we are really doing is poising our bodies with quick fixes and Band-Aid solutions that are directly contributing to long term health problems.
The scary truth behind many of these quick fixes are the effects on your health. Most diet pills have a long list of side effects, like diarrhea, elevated blood pressure, restlessness, dizziness, insomnia[iii] and often leads to a deficiency in Vitamin A and D[iv]. On top of that, those who use diet pills regularly are six times more likely to get primary pulmonary hypertension. This disease puts pressure on your lungs, and results in breathing problems, and often require a lung transplant[v]. Taking any kind of artificial replacement throws off the body’s natural rhythm, and can cause the body to become completely dependent on the product[vi]. The ‘perfect’ quick fix probably doesn’t seem that perfect anymore.
So why do we believe in these magic pills in the first place? When we feel stuck in some aspect of our lives, we tend to use our bodies as the scapegoat. We believe that dropping weight will solve the social anxiety, the missed promotion at work or the trouble in our relationships. Which means that the faster you can rid yourself of the last few pounds the faster your problems also be magically solved. When you’re desperate for the quick fix, you are more likely to believe the quick fix will work.
On top of that, with shows like Dr. Oz gaining so much popularity, and the influx of ‘credible’ medical advice found on the internet, our idea of a professional opinion has changed. We believe in the personality we see on our TV screen, and we trust in the products being endorsed. But how much can we really trust those ‘medical’ opinions from a show or a personality? In 2014, Dr. Oz was forced to appear before the Congress where he was questioned over the false claims towards miracle pills made during some of his segments. After being forced to retract the bogus study that supported the pills, a new study came out, only this time on his show. This study, produced by the British Medical Journal, found over half of the claims made by Dr. Oz were either baseless or completely wrong. Not only did his segments present false information, but many of the claims even went against the credible research available[vii].
Instead, let’s go back to the basics. Good old fashioned hard work is the key to breaking the quick fix cycle. If you find you can’t sleep, don’t reach for the pills, try and make some changes to your routine. Try meditation[viii], yoga or colouring to calm you down, and leave your phone outside the bedroom[ix]. If you truly feel the need to lose weight, don’t just try and suppress your appetite with magic bars, try working movement back into your lifestyle; Go for a walk with your dog or play outside with your kids. Ultimately, you will need to develop a deep seeded respect for yourself. You inherently take care of the things you respect and love. When you build up the body love, you build up the determination to work hard for yourself, and break free from the quick fix mindset.
The next time you contemplate trying some miracle product I encourage you to ask yourself how sustainable it really is. Will you be using the product for the next 6 months or the next 10 years? Find your own rhythm and resist the urge to try the latest fad fix. In the long run, you will protect your body from the rollercoaster changes that come with quick fixes. It’s all about sustainable changes to your life, not the immediate results. Above all else, remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.