The Food Babe Way: 21 Days to an Eating Disorder

February 12, 2015

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If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I implore you to please stop reading now. Hey look, kittens!

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The Food Babe released her own book recently. I’m sure a lot of the book is spent bragging about her social media campaigns and telling you how to get hair as pretty as hers.

But there’s a darker side to this. The book tells you that it’s twenty-one days to revolutionize your life, lose weight, and feel years younger.

Funny, most people don’t describe their eating disorder with such glowing reviews.

Oh, you thought this was just a lifestyle book? Not exactly. Vani Hari’s tips for a “healthier” life are dangerously close to the tips and discussions you will find on a pro-anorexia page. Since I regularly tell you that you shouldn’t believe anything without proof, let’s do a few things here. We’ll debunk a few of her claims and we’ll have a look at how her continual perpetuation of fear of food is eerily similar to what you’ll find on a pro-anorexia website.

Food Babe:

  “These new food inventions are ruining your health: Sugar, flour.”

First, sugar- the refined white crystals- are 1,400 years old. Nice try. Second, flour? We’ve had different types of flours for thousands of years. Refining it does not make it any more or any less dangerous unless you have celiac disease. Stop perpetuating this myth.

Pro-Anorexia Blog:

In a discussion labeled “Flour or sugar, which do you fear most,” comments include:

“I’m so terrified of both…. Is one worse than the other?”

“Flour (…) I cant remember the last time I had it”

“I fear *unnecessarily added* ingredients  But I’d say I DEFINITELY fear sugar more.”

Food Babe:

” Fast Every Single Day – Fast for at least 12 hours from the time you eat your last meal until the time you “break” the “fast” with breakfast. Adopting this habit can be so rewarding, restorative to your health, and put you on the path to ultimate youth and beauty! It takes at least 8 hours for your body to completely digest its meals from the day. If you add in another 4 hours to that time without introducing more food to digest, the body actually goes into detoxification mode and has more time to remove dead and dying cells from the body. During this “idle” time, the body also stimulates the development and regeneration of new cells. Aging occurs when more cells die than are being produced. Allowing your body sufficient time every single day to digest, eliminate dying cells and develop new cells is a habit that will get you closer to drinking straight out of the fountain of youth!”

Repeat after me:

Detox is not a thing. Detox is not a thing. Detox is not a thing.

What if you’re hungry? What if you’re an endurance athlete and you just goddamn need calories? What if you’re on medications that need to be taken with food? Your lifestyle does not fit for all people and they should be taking advice from a doctor, not you.

Pro-Anorexia Website:

“Dinner must be eaten by 7:00 pm. After dinner, no food is to be consumed until 7:00 am at the earliest. This is basically the same as a 12-hour fast, meaning if you live by this rule for an entire year, you will have equivalently fasted for 6 months.”

Food Babe:

Drink Warm Lemon Water and Cayenne Pepper – Maintaining this habit first thing every morning on an empty stomach provides a super stimulant to the liver, your main detoxing organ in the body. Your liver will release uric acid and create bile to safely eliminate environmental and lifestyle toxins that would otherwise be trapped in your digestive system longer. Remember keeping your liver and digestive system clean and in optimal condition will help your body prevent diseases like cancer in the future. Combining cayenne with lemon increases the detoxing effect and raises the temperature of your body increasing your metabolism.

Huh, increase metabolism. First, it doesn’t. Good luck with that. Second, sounds like this is one of her many little tricks to try to stay thin at all costs. Imbibe something other than food to keep you warm and full. She’s not the only one with that idea…

Pro-Anorexia Website:

“Keep sipping on that lemon-water, tea, or diet pepsi while you work! Keeps the tummy sated so it won’t growl at ya.”

Food Babe:

Go as far as telling the server you (sic) allergic to butter and dairy, soy and corn. Butter really isn’t bad for you if it is organic and you use it in moderation – but restaurants can go crazy with it adding several hundred extra calories you can live without.

As someone with celiac disease, I take a lot of offense to people who lie about food allergies to cut a few calories. Just tell them you’re a vapid pain in the neck with little knowledge of science who couldn’t make a salad at home. Skip the lying.

Pro-Anorexia Website

“I can’t eat a single meal that’s 300 calories or more or I will have a serious anxiety attack…. But I’d really like to take my boyfriend out for something nice. Do you know of any restaurants that have a meal for under 300 calories? Google has come up with nothing.  It seems like all the “weight loss” choices are 500 calories or more! Even the salads! Ugh.”

I wonder if they’ve considered lying to the server about allergies.

Food Babe

“Drink water like it is going out of style – I probably drink 80-100 ounces a day”

Pro-Anorexia Website:

The number one tip to live a pro ana lifestyle to drink plenty of water (cold water helps burn calories but warm water fills you up more) throughout the day. It will keep you full, burn calories, and help clear your complexion!

Food Babe:

Find excuses for not eating at a party because food is toxic.

Pro-Anorexia Website:

Find excuses for not eating at a party because food makes you fat.

Other quotables from Vani Hari include:

“Could you imagine all your friends having confidence about their own appearance – there would be less jealously, cattiness, and low self esteem. “

“When you eat crappy chemicals, your body becomes a fat, toxic waste dump.”

I don’t know about you, but when I have confidence in myself, I don’t pick on my friends’ diets or call them fat toxic waste dumps.

Your body doesn’t know whether these habits are because you’re trying to “avoid toxins” or because you’re suffering from the deadliest psychiatric disorder known to man. All your body knows is that you’re treating it poorly. Whatever sparked Ms. Hari to start picking up habits akin to an eating disorder (and whether or not she actually has one is not the call of a million internet armchair psychiatrists), please remember, she is not the person from whom you should be taking diet advice. She is not a registered dietician, she is not a doctor, and her advice has been shown time and again to not be medically sound. If you are looking to lose weight healthfully, there are a lot of resources on the internet who are backed by science and medicine. James Fell, Go Kaleo, and Disrupt Your Diet are all excellent science based resources in health and fitness.

(And they’re all babes too.)

Vani Hari is good at a handful of things; social media campaigns and having fabulous hair. Don’t disregard her because of those, but please, don’t listen to her because of it either. A healthy dose of skepticism may help you avoid picking up some truly unhealthy habits.

 

-Science Babe

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69 responses to “The Food Babe Way: 21 Days to an Eating Disorder”

  1. Jerry says:

    Seriously great!

  2. lucy glover says:

    This is terrifying. This is a brilliant example of how bad the information she gives out is.

  3. Terrie says:

    This is the same wackadoodle that bashed Panera for being unhealthy. Seriously? Of the choices you have out there, Panera is probably the MOST healthy. Is it 100% organic vegan blah blah? No. But where CAN you go and get that served to you? She’s a nutjob.

    • Science Babe says:

      That’s the point, the general consensus from reading her a lot is that if they’re not a sponsor of her blog, they cause cancer.

    • Belle says:

      To be fair, while it’s not “unhealthy” all the bread isn’t great for you. I mean its one of those things that I’d fine once in a while but with how much wheat has been motified for easier production, even “healthy” bread can cause health problems now. Wheat gluten isn’t healthy. I highly suggest you read the book “wheat belly” it gives an in-depth scientific explanation of the health problems wheat gluten.

  4. Derek Snyder says:

    The ‘food babe army’ has all the hallmarks of a burgeoning cult. Whether by choice or by design (I suspect mostly choice, her flock seems to be largely made up of the anti-llectual conspiracy theorist crowd), a strict mental wall has been placed between that which they ‘know’ to be right, and that which is actually right based on evidence. The babe herself has realized that it is in her best monetary interest to prevent dissenting opinions or evidence from swaying loyal acolytes, and aggressively bans commenters from her blog and facebook page if they aren’t simply praising her for her fantastic work (or lustrous hair). Whether or not her initial intentions were to raise legitimate concerns over how our food is manufactured or packaged, she has apparently realized that she’s got a captive audience of loonies and has committed fully to the dark side of milking them for all they’re worth. When someone transitions from ‘possibly well-meaning, if ignorant, activist’ to ‘intentional mis-informer and fear monger for monetary gain’, they deserve all the scorn that can be hurled at them.

  5. Denise Arneson says:

    let me go on record to say that I am not a fan of the Food Babe. I believe she does way more harm than good. However in this case I think she has a point about sugar and carbohydrates in general. Eating excess carbohydrates leads to insulin resistance which causes a host of problems. I developed type two diabetes and have now adopted a low carb high fat diet. This is working for me. Do I think that everyone needs to eat this way? No some people can tolerate carbohydrates better than others. Do I eat low calorie? Not at all. I try to eat non processed foods mostly meat and fresh vegetables. I was thin for many years but tended to put weight on around my middle. People that gain abdominal weight tend towards becoming insulin resistant. Right now my diet is pretty restrictive in terms of carbs. My hope is that as I lose more weight and get my blood sugar under better control I can have more carbs. I wish I had reduced my junk food consumption when I was younger. I may have not developed diabetes if I’d done do. My point is that it’s important to do your research , even a idiot is correct sometimes.

    • viriato77 says:

      The key here is context. “even a idiot is correct sometimes” is not proper justification. You can be right (or generally so) for the completely wrong reasons. You could believe that your insulin is filled with microscopic pixies that fix your insides when you take it. P.S. I’m really happy you’ve been able to manage your diabetes, keep up the good work, and I hope you can reward yourself with a cannoli at some point.

    • Bruce MacDonald says:

      Marie, this is a great post. I appreciate the terrible struggles you have gone through.

      Can you tell us a bit about how you eventually came to realize that you had been badly influenced by the pseudo-science? And how did you overcome your eating disorder? If you don’t mind my asking.

      • Marie says:

        Thanks Bruce, no of course I don’t mind you asking. 🙂

        I suppose I came to realise that all this pseudo-science was mostly tripe through my (then) partner. He pointed out that all of these theories contradicted themselves in so many ways. He also spent alot of time researching these ideologies to verify if they had any scientific backing.
        Truly, they all contradict one another- from what you’re supposed to eat (eg. too much fruit vs too little fruit), what time you should eat (fasting vs. consistent metabolic stimulation), how you should be preparing your food (raw, fermented etc) the list could seriously go on forever. It just seemed like regardless of what you were doing it was never right according to some self appointed expert. But because of their online persona, their presentation and the projection of perfection (aesthetics and appearance were clearly super important to me throughout my eating disorder) I had every faith in what they were saying.

        I felt like I was backed into a corner, and honestly, there was nothing left for me to eat without intense fear and anxiety. So I sought the help of a therapist who put me on a very gentle road re-introducing foods I never would have touched a few years ago. I also read every book I could on eating disorder recovery and gave everything I could a shot (from wacky affirmations to practicing mindfulness when eating).

        I am no longer in therapy for my eating disorder, and have been on a steady recovery path for almost a year now. But there are days where I am still a little terrified of particular foods, and some days where I can’t see anything but an overweight person in the mirror- but I really have to try and be logical and remind myself that I am indeed nowhere near overweight and these foods probably wont kill me, nor make me fat and its simply smarter to employ moderation rather than complete restriction.

        Ultimately, a big part of my recovery from my eating disorder was the release of my idea of perfection – from my own looks to what the perfect diet should be, and just demonstrate kindness to myself that I would give a loved one, and take each day as it comes.
        I definitely stopped my incessant reading of psuedo-science, left all social media (it’s really just a false platform for people to project their “perfect” lives), and honestly, I just try to nourish my body the best way I can- and that cannot involve restriction nor doctrine produced by someone who is not me.

        When you have an eating disorder you can take simple information and mutate it to suit your illness- or you will simply take any information as a given because you are terrified and vulnerable.
        I think most of these ‘healthy lifestyle’ bloggers are trying to do the right thing. But they need to make it clear that so much of what they are spouting has not been verified nor proven.
        I know the internet is pretty impossible to regulate when it comes to things like this, but surely social responsibility and the honest and correct distribution of information should be ingrained in us all, as humans, right?
        I guess not 😉

        Sorry to go on a rant there Bruce, but I hope that answered your question 🙂

  6. Tanya says:

    thanks for posting! It is a little scary how much misinformation is floating on the web!

  7. I follow a lot of people with anorexia on social media. (It’s a long story, but essentially to give them encouragement when they’re trying to recover.) I see these tips constantly.

    But some of these make me question whether or not this fantasy contrived in her head or merely regurgitation of what other food nuts are saying.

  8. Lauren says:

    I read some of the content of this ‘book’ – not the whole thing mind you, as I didn’t have full access. But what I did read alarmed me in the same ways you have written here. My IMMEDIATE response to her ‘writing’ was that it was nothing more than a passive-aggressive, cutesy manual for anorexia and other eating disorders.
    As a teacher JK – Gr8, I already have children as YOUNG AS SIX, coming into school touting the ideas that some foods are ‘bad’ and even ‘really bad’. Thankfully, so far no JK or SK child has used the word ‘toxic’, but you can bet your super science ass that girls from as low down as Gr4 ARE using that term.
    Vani Hari has actually put a huge dent in the anti-bullying, anti-shaming, and pro-body-image movement that has been in the works for 20 or more years (I remember when I was vocal about it at 15). She, and people like her, are doing unbelievable damage to the education and support for young girls who teeter on the edge of poor self-esteem and body image, who by the hundreds surrender to the lure of ‘the pretty girl who used to be fat’ believing, wrongly, that will-power and starvation will cure all that ails them.
    What is most appalling about Vani Hari is that she pushes this dangerous ideology and behaviour cloaked in ‘food activism’ and ‘standing up’.
    Young girls are not always able to discern fact from gossip in the best circumstances – what chance do they have when bad science and even worse advice is so craftily disguised as ‘help from the pretty girl’??
    Desperation practically ensures their undying trust and loyalty — Vani Hari doesn’t just know this, she is COUNTING ON IT.
    There’s no stopping her with science – if she keeps selling, she’ll keep crapping out bad advice.
    Flooding the publisher’s facebook page, website, etc. with complaints about the irresponsibility of publishing such a dangerous book, I think, would at least open up communication about what should and should not count as a ‘good book’.

    • KeokiGeo says:

      Thank you for this. I’ve always seen the foodbabe’s suggestions as very damagin to the already fragile pyshe of pre-teen and teenage girls. She is promoting unhealthy ideas as to what a person should look like.

  9. Thom says:

    Slow Clap…

  10. JB says:

    Sobering, even frightening parallels. I don’t recall if it’s a sanctioned diagnosis, but “orthorexia” certainly seems to apply here.

  11. Andrew says:

    excellent piece! Keep them coming! Had a question on the many cleanses on the market. Specifically isgenix. How safe and effective are they. They claim to detox on a cellular level and seem the people often give bad advice to get you to sign up. Any info would be appreciated.

    Thanks ,
    Andrew

    • Derek Snyder says:

      Andrew, long story short is that every single ‘detox’ plan or product out there is pure fantasy. Your body is already fully equipped to process out waste, even at the cellular level (unless, of course, you’re experiencing liver or kidney failure). There is not a detox product on the market that can do anything your body can’t do already, they’re just placebo products to extract money from the uneducated!

  12. Leila says:

    The funny thing is that I “fast” between 12-16 hours a day, just because I’ve found it’s easiest for me to maintain my weight that way (I eat an early dinner and then a late breakfast/early lunch). I don’t do it because of any detoxing nonsense (your kidneys and colon detox your body just fine).

    I’ve come across a lot of crazy health food blogs (including one where a mom was lamenting that she had to subject her son to chemo instead of homeopathy “natural cures” because then CPS would come after her- I was thinking Thank God for that!) and they don’t get as much attn. because they don’t spread their paranoia far enough.

  13. Michelle says:

    You are the best

  14. Karyne Corum says:

    It’s terrifying how someone like this has garnered so many followers based on such flawed and dangerous eating tactics. It would seem that people are more content to take a “pill” wether verbal or literal rather than to do the work of just doing their homework. Fruits, veggies, grains and exercise. The simplest formula for life there ever could be. Btw, Gokaleo is an excellent resource.

  15. Pickwick says:

    Thanks for doing what you do.

    I’d never heard of “pro-anorexia websites” before. That entire concept makes me feel ill, and very sad…

    • Bridget says:

      I totally agree. Scary that some people celebrate what is a well documented and highly dangerous disorder.

      • Harveysmiles says:

        I nearly died of anorexia nervosa. I am now as recovered as I guess it is possible to be. I wasted years of my life in a hospital bed wanting nothing but thinness. Now I am cramming as much life into what years I have left knowing that anorexia stole about 25 years of my life.
        There is nothing clever about being anorectic. It is a cowardly way of copping out of life and the challenges that it throws up. If you are too weak to face fear, love, loss, grief , success and failure then, by all means choose anorexia but do not do so with pride because it is a choice made out of cowardice.

  16. leslie says:

    Her pro-ana suggestions are what tipped me off to her firstly in regards to her unhealthy agenda. And as a baker, there are many wonderful properties to sugar and flour, CHEMICAL REACTIONS, at that, that have nothing to do with Big Food/Pharma. She’s such a dodo. Thanks for this post 🙂

  17. GregH says:

    This is truly scary.

    That said the “12 hour fast” thing isn’t exactly a novel idea on her part. I’m not trying to lose weight at all, nor do I follow any fudbabeish crud, but I fast for far more than 12 hours a day every day just by operation of my body. See I eat dinner between 7 and 8pm. Even if I ate breakfast, I’d be eating just about 12 hours post dinner. I happen to normally not eat breakfast, simply because I don’t tend to get hungry early in the morning. So then I often go from like 8 until 1 without eating, that’s 17 hours, without even trying. So….isn’t that “recommendation” on her part basically saying “don’t snack in the middle of the night”?

  18. louveha says:

    Yeah, I had doubts as soon as I read the “21 days” in the title. In general, diets who promise results too fast are not very serious and sometimes dangerous.
    I also don’t get all these dramas about restaurants and partys. Maybe I am REALLY asocial, I don’t know ; but do people really eat at restaurants or parties that often ? Is it never possible for them to make an exception (if they don’t really have allergies) ?

  19. Bridget says:

    Organic is a wash 99% of the time. Are there problems with mass produced agriculture? Yes, as with any business, including the organic and holistic market. Are all GMOs a healthy and safe alternative to organic? Unclear, as they are a relatively new addition to the market and many individual GMOs are still undergoing investigation. However, the evidence does not point to GMOs being unhealthy or dangerous as of yet.

    Also, can I just say how absolutely RUDE it is to bring your own meal to a holiday dinner? Your host probably spent a good part of their day to cook this meal for you, you can suck it up and eat some (unless you have a dangerous food allergy, then you are clear, but lying about food allergies is also a total no-no). A few extra calories will not kill you.

    I also find it alarming that there are pro-anorexia websites out there. Anorexia is dangerous, and emaciation is not beautiful. That people are encouraging it is sickening.

  20. Nene says:

    This is a great and really interesting article. So many times when we read something on the internet (especially when it’s by someone popular) we can forget to be critical thinkers, and I think this is a prime case. Most of us want to be healthy, and want to take as much advice as possible, but we have to remember that not all advice is good advice.

  21. Brian says:

    “Butter really isn’t bad for you if it is organic and you use it in moderation”

    I actually started laughing out loud at this part. Really?! Butter isn’t bad for you if it’s ORGANIC? Why the fuck would butter care if it’s ORGANIC or not? It’s fucking BUTTER! There’s more calories in a table spoon of butter than some candy bars, whether it’s organic or not. Because THAT’S HOW CHEMISTRY WORKS!

    Also: the whole “don’t eat chemicals” thing amuses the shit out of me. EVERYTHING IS MADE UP OF CHEMICALS.

    Holy shit. We might have to start eating our stupid people, but it’s probably infectious so let’s just drive them into the sea instead.

  22. Sanity Amongst Loons says:

    Haters gonna hate!

  23. blinxy says:

    Hmm refined sugar as used in today’s food been around for 1400 years – nice try Science Babe, right back at you

    ‘repeat after me’ detox is not a thing etc. – very scientific.

    Given the choice between white flour and refined sugar or lemon juice and a few oats, I know what I would choose.

  24. Anonymous says:

    1)Thanks for the trigger warning at the top, as I have anorexia myself.
    2) “…I take a lot of offense to people who lie about food allergies to cut a few calories.”
    I hope you aren’t being serious here. How is that offensive? I often tell restaurants I have allergies because I want to be certain they won’t put certain things in my food. But whatever, not that important…
    3)Great article! 🙂 *applauds* Nice to see some sense being brought into debunking some of the Food Babe’s advice, though I do not agree with you on everything mentioned here… And wow, it’s kind of odd how similar some of her advice is to advice on ana sites… Really would not surprise me if she had anorexia or orthorexia, but I don’t know that much about her, so I won’t make any statements on that.

    • Science Babe says:

      When people do this, and a LOT of people do, it makes restaurant staff not take real food allergies seriously. How many people tell waitstaff that they’re gluten free and then order a beer? It makes waitstaff not believe me when I tell them I don’t do gluten because of my celiac disease. Pulling bullshit like this can harm people with allergies. Check out The Bitchy Waiter on facebook and twitter if you want to hear a waiter’s perspective on this.

      Just tell them you don’t want an ingredient. They’ll listen. You’re paying them to provide a service, they’ll provide it without you lying about a food allergy.

      • Beatrice C. says:

        I know I’m late to this party, but I wanted to give you my very heartfelt thanks for speaking out against people lying about food allergies. I have an allergy to tomatoes (in all forms) severe enough that I’ve been intubated multiple times, had to be shocked back into normal sinus rhythm and generally require not one, but two Epi Pens to keep me breathing long enough for rescue to even get to me from even the smallest exposure. I’ve given up dining out because of the attitude shift of the kitchen and wait staff at most restaurants regarding allergies. I’ve had servers actually roll my eyes at me, even when I pulled out both Epi Pens, an inhaler, and my single dose containers of liquid Benadryl and Prednisone and placed them on the table. This is all stuff I carry with me everywhere I go. The thing is, I really don’t blame the staff. I blame the people who lie about allergies who have caused this jaded attitude among restaurant workers. The only way to really protect myself now is to simply never eat out. It sucks, but it’s what I have to do.

      • ShadowFalls says:

        That whole “Gluten-Free” nonsense makes me a little mad. It is only an issue for people with Celiac Disease, though it has been known to help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well. But to go and trumpet it around like it is so important infuriates me.

        When I go to a restaurant, I ask specifically for a dish to be served with no nuts because I do not like then. I don’t however claim I have an allergy I don’t have. I do speak up when they make a mistake and served my dish with peanuts when I said no nuts as they could have killed someone.

        I also ask for cheddar cheese when available as I am lactose intolerant and might have forgotten to bring a lactase supplement. I don’t specify this as I don’t think my health is their business, but most often the mistakes are still rare.

        I can’t imagine how little fun it is to dine out some times when you have to avoid all gluten. I doubt there are a lot of restaurants with rice or corn made bread for which to have a hamburger or sandwich. It really shrinks down the menu choices for you.

      • George Gibbs says:

        I find your celiac and opinion at odds. If everyone claimed to have celiac sensitivity restaurants would be forced to do away with flour which is probably a good thing for everyone.

  25. Much as I hate Food Babe, there is some possible scientific merit to the concept of a 12-hour fast. I actually just read about an experiment a couple of days ago that the Salk Institute performed on lab mice. The New York Times wrote an article about it:

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com//2015/01/15/a-12-hour-window-for-a-healthy-weight/

    The basic idea is that even with the mice consuming the same amount of calories, when their foot intake period was limited to 8-12 hours of the day, the limited mice experienced benefits including weight loss and stabilization.

  26. Lisa says:

    as someone has struggled with Anorexia, (been recovered for 5 years) I would have definitely been on FoodBabes blog everyday, following her advice on what to obsess over.
    Thank you so much for debunking BS like this. We need more ppl like you.

  27. Stine Mari says:

    I find “Food Babe” and her tactics to be incredibly alarming. As a mental health practitioner, Her website has so many red flags.

    One of the biggest red flags is whether she is promoting “Orthorexia Nervosa”. Whilst this is not officially recognized by the DSM-5, it is a proposed eating disorder that is characterized by extreme or excessive preoccupation of avoiding any and all foods that have been deemed “unhealthy”. Someone with this disorder is essentially obsessed with avoiding “unhealthy” foods/products and will avoid them at all costs because of the firm and unwavering belief that they will cause harm if ingested. For example, The Food Babe has essentially declared over 600 foods, products, companies, restaurants, etc. as “harmful”. When I look at her website, all I see are restrictions, restrictions, and more restrictions. Many of the characteristics of this are similar to someone with OCD. There are many concerns about a client’s physical health that may have this mental disorder, one of the main being malnutrition. Though I am not a physician and do not know anything about the Food Babe’s physical health, I am certainly worried for her.

    In addition, I am worried for those that stumble across her page or are her devout followers and take her word as the complete and utter truth. This is nothing more than a manifesto and in my eyes, preys on those who lack critical thinking skills and the ability to form opinions for themselves. I hate to tell her this, but in science there is no such thing as “proof”. You can either disprove a hypothesis or garner evidence to support your claim. What stands firm however, is that a claim can always be refuted. Science does not rest on its laurels, it is ever changing: paradigms can and will shift. A paradigm shift is healthy and is expected in science. To be so sure of something and to assert that you know the ultimate truth means you have lost the overarching spirit of science. Just because she has said something, doesn’t make it the absolute truth. Just because she claims she knows how to debate and can be a persuasive writer doesn’t make her blog a beacon of truth. If anything, she could really use a course in logic, because her blog is filled with logical fallacies and pseudoscience.

    I agree with her that transparency is important, but the methodology in which she is doing it may be causing more harm than good…and that is what terrifies me. There is nothing warm and fuzzy that I can discern from this woman. The way I interpreted her blog is that food is dangerous and unless you listen to me and follow my rules, your body will shut down on you. So much shaming and fear mongering, yet little empowerment…and that bothers me, both as a human and a mental health professional.

  28. Read the book to do a review and I had to stop reading The Food Babe Way. I thought she full of crap! I figured she is trying to stay thin, young and pretty by doing whatever it takes.She used the book and people who are dumb enough to believe what she writes. I despised her blog—it was super long and irritating. In fact, I found her to be irritating!! UGH!!! She was way over the top with enthusiasm about what she thought was bad food which turned out to be every food we eat. So what is left-growing our own food in cartons at home? She crazy!! THANKS!!

  29. Tianna says:

    discovered you via Gawker and I think I might love you… 😀 thanks for the awesome posts on the FB loon. I mean Food Baby, by the way, not facebook, but that too.

  30. Marie says:

    As a woman who has suffered with an eating disorder for most of my life (I’m 29 now and in quite a good place of recovery) I can honestly say this pseudoscience crap spouting from uneducated hacks like the food babe (god, even her name ignites the bulimic mechanism in me lol) really contributed to my experience with an eating disorder. There was a stage of my life where I was absolutely terrified to eat anything. I was convinced that if it wasn’t organic that it would surely make me fat or poison me. Throughout this period I was eating nothing but tiny handfuls of organic raw spinach with a few drops of apple cider vinegar. As an intelligent and competent woman, who is entirely capable of research, I didn’t – because when you’re simply that fragile, and frightened, you’ll take anyones advice.
    I was obsessed with various healthy lifestyle blogs, actioning most of their ‘tips’ , and would stay up all night (whilst doing intensive university studies) endlessly reading articles, absorbing every contradictory, fear-mongering word. I was so confused and experiencing (mis)information overload, where, truly, all of that ‘guidance’ sent me into such a dark place where I was too terrified to eat, leave my house or be confronted by food.

    I personally doubt these bloggers realise just how much they can influence their followers, and I really doubt they hold any true malice within their cause (money making on the other hand…). But there does need to be some awareness that this constant misinformation really can impact those who are vulnerable.

  31. mark says:

    I didn’t write a book about an ED. But I did just release a song on youtube about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snTF4aHWXnM&feature=youtu.be

  32. allie says:

    I just found your blog and I love this!

  33. Greg says:

    Hey Science Babe –

    I don’t want to come off as I’m defending Food Babe because I’m not – she crazy. But I am defending fasting. What she describes is Intermittent Fasting and the process she’s trying to describe is Autophagy (this is a science term!) It’s not detoxification nor is it going to make you younger like she implies, but there are studies that suggest that it may have cancer fighting properties. Anyway, the Fasting is a thing and there are studies and science behind it.

    How Intermittent Fasting is NOT pro-anorexia is you still consume the same number of calories in that feeding window.

  34. Gayla says:

    You. Are. My. Hero.

    I love how you so soundly debunk everything the “Food Babe” (ugh) says and point out just how dangerous she is.

    Please keep it up!!

  35. Kat says:

    I just want to point out a few things, though; refining flour strips it of its nutrients and extruding it renders it toxic. So, in a way, processed flour does ruin your health.

    But anyway, excellent article.

    • SciBabe says:

      How do you define toxic?

      • Christa says:

        I think definitions are one of the integral issues causing the spread of misinformation, especially in the health sector. In the social pathway between clinical trials, subsequent scientific literature, communication in the scientific community, and communication between lay people, it’s important that things are constantly defined to avoid misunderstandings. I think it is easy for those with a scientific background to criticize unsubstantiated claims, and judge those who “blindly” follow the advice of a non-professional, but the average person may be overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information within the literature and may seek to follow the advice of someone who they can relate to in a social manner. The problem is that this type of communication ends up being more accessible, but ambiguous, ill-defined, and usually incorrect. I mean, only relatively recently have studies even shown the differentiated effects of intermittent fasting on male and female hormone production, and by following the insights of clinical research I had been potentially harming my body. Perhaps if more time was taken to define concepts in a way that is very easy to understand and implement, less people would follow the claims of pseudoscience.

  36. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. says:

    This stuff is exactly why Vani Hari is a serious threat to community and national health.

    There’s something rather psychotic about her insitence that she is right when confronted with evidence that she is wrong.

    She belongs in a special hospital.
    No, I’m not joking.

  37. Maddeleine says:

    I can’t understand why everyone isn’t more excited about Foodbabe supposedly knowing how to prevent cancer.

    Who knew keeping cancer away was as simple as drinking cayenne pepper and lemon tea!?!

    She should head down to the oncology ward and inform them that they got cancer because they weren’t drinking enough cayenne pepper and lemon tea.

    I think her medical advice would be warmly welcomed.

  38. Megan A. says:

    This is one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read, Vani is so right on all levels, some of the stuff is the same as pro anorexic things, but what Vani’s main point is that you should eat non processed foods, and make sure everything is organic, so when you go to subway, you don’t eat yoga mat. She has studied and protested, she made some of the ingredients in fast food joints less fattening, and less likely to kill you

  39. Alison says:

    dear yvette,

    Ive listened to you on podcasts. Your work is entertaining. of course i agree with it. I grew up in the 90s and we punished ourselves with mashing, fasting, binging, smoking. It s a way of testing limits to get attention, irresponsible behavior instead of asking for help. But then we went to college, got cars and lost teenage low self esteem!

    Foodnut needs tx. I was aghast to see pro anorexia site. You should watch men, woem and children. Its about communication and disconnect between dparents and kids bc of the internet. and while youre on hbo, watch show me a hero.

    I work in occupational therapy, which at its core believes that people are healthy when then are productive at work, volunteering, recreation, etc. maybe. Chowbabe should join a kniting group. Those people are detail oriented.

    Rock on!

  40. Janet says:

    “Adopting this habit can be so rewarding, restorative to your health, and put you on the path to ultimate youth and beauty!”

    “a habit that will get you closer to drinking straight out of the fountain of youth!”

    Oh, gawd. I have so many sarcastic comments I want to crack and pointed points about how ageing is part and parcel of being alive, not some reversible process to be fought with the bad troppes of youth-obsessed culture…

    … but uh, all I can think when I read those lines is how starving people sometimes get bursts of irrational euphoria. She sounds manic. Is she okay?

  41. Alice the Ice Queen says:

    Thank you for putting this up here. I currently am in recovery from anorexia and articles like these show me that anorexia is NOT worth being thin. Im worth it but anorexia is not.Thanks, Science Babe.

    Love,
    Alice
    The Ice Queen

  42. Jamie T says:

    “Come for science”, “hippie-cum-guru”, dirty jokes….
    (I have no idea what a guru of hippie-cum is, (sounds disgusting)), but I love it!

    I’ll take the Sci Babe over the Food Babe any day.

    Wait…mental image…what does that Food Babe look like?

  43. Lynsey says:

    I find the idea of ‘pro ana’ sites abhorant and what sickens me more is that the people accessing them are getting younger and younger. My daughter (8yrs) was asked if she was anorexic by another child at school! She had to ask me what anorexic is? She was born 5 weeks early and just over 4Ib so very little and still looks very little but is right in the middle of the deemed correct weight for her age and hight.

    I am currently trying to lose weight because of health issues, I will acheieve this by eating less chocolate and moving more- no fads, no ‘detox’, no extremes.

  44. K says:

    As an anorexic in recovery (you either are practicing or not- I finally chose life about 7-8 years ago now. That doesn’t mean I don’t have triggers or issues with certain foods, but also chose a pescatarian diet that allows me the proper sustenance my body needs to be healthy and learned to turn off the ‘guilt switch’, which hardly ever has anything to do with food, the poor behaviors are only a symptom, and a very deadly one at that. I am truly appalled by this, having trolled pro-ana websites in my teens, and you are so very right. There is no difference between the two and I would never recommend such a book to anyone, nor the behaviors and self esteem killing thoughts. It’s only a downward spiral from there. Now, I don’t know this girl and she is obviously beautiful, I can’t hate her for putting something like that out (freedom of press), but she has created something incredibly dangerous, especially to our very impressionable youth and self conscious women/men. I can only hope she can overcome this toxic thinking (mental detox, yo!) and open up to a more positive lifestyle.

  45. Lem Utu says:

    The Food Babe blocked me on Twitter and Facebook for posting links to your articles. I don’t think she’s a big fan of yours.

  46. MimiR says:

    While the FoodBabe is full of crap, having a 12-hour overnight fast is the minimum for decent health. Look up the studies on PubMed about insulin resistance, general health, and overnight fasting. 14 hours is better than 12, for sure. Is more than that better? Possibly. But there aren’t yet widespread studies, especially not for more than 16 hours. A lot of bodybuilders and fitness models–the ones NOT taking steroids–swear by 18-hour overnight fasts to lose fat to low-healthy levels without compromising muscle and without heavy dietary restrictions, and it’s believed that improved leptin and insulin sensitivity is why this is possible. Of course, when you’re not living in a world where a difference 3% body fat makes or breaks you, most people don’t need that level of responsiveness, but there is at least anecdotal evidence that people with poor metabolic profiles would highly benefit from the same kind of narrow-window eating, as long as their meals had plenty of fiber.

    It’s also known that fasting increases beneficial autophagy and it’s believed that this is part of the reason that people with the same BMI with longer overnight fasts have longevity and healthy advantages over those with shorter overnight fasts. Please read about autophagy and its role in certain forms of cancer and some drivers of aging. Autophagy can be thought of as “detoxing”, but it it’s not removing any actual toxins, and you don’t eliminate them through sweat/pee/bowels, etc. It’s removing “broken parts” for recycling into energy.

    Finally, she’s 100% full of crap about the wheat…if you’re talking whole wheat. Grain-sourced fiber increases several good outcomes over fruit-based and even vegetable-based fiber. (I have to admit that the last was a surprise to me!) While wheat isn’t the VERY best source of grain fiber (that goes to barley), it’s pretty far up the list. But added sugars are never, ever “good” for you. In moderation, they, like saturated animal fats, are probably just fine, but few people eat sugar (whether from honey, fruit juice, table sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, or any other source) in moderation. It’s deeply ironic that most of the people demonizing corn syrup and table sugar are going bonkers on honey and maple syrup.

  47. Healthy food is very important for health. This food gives us energy through out the day. I suggest, start every day with warm lemon water and a green tea. Did you know that your fast food contain a chemicals? We must eat fast food occasionlly.

  48. skinny girls love to eat too says:

    Makes me want to eat a fat ass big Mac after reading this mess!!

  49. Joan says:

    You all shon the disease yet do you not realize it is all the control some people have, to own their weight, after an abusive marriage with divorce or loss of a job? Speak last when not in despair but for those of us who are, it’s a world we welcome to know with all the evil and poverty in the world, at least we are in control of what we shove or don’t shove into our mouth so the numbers remain lowest. It is cruel intent at best.
    My commenting was for pure defense, so dispute is not welcome from someone who counts the numbers, therefore remain kind and pass.

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