On Pathologizing Normalcy

One of my favorite podcasts that I rave about over and again is Food Psych by Christy Harrison. She brings fun and interesting body positive advocates on the show to talk about food relationships and how we can work towards ending diet culture. A few weeks back she had a guest named Alan Levinovitz (click to check out the episode!) who is a professor of religion and philosophy at James Madison University. 

I was so fascinated by how Levinovitz connected religion to food culture, but also how he rallies against food fear and myths about health in general. The last ten minutes of the episode particularly stood out to me - on how people "pathologize normalcy" by providing a solution to a health problem that doesn't really exist. He gave this example (said in the voice of an infomercial):

"Do you ever feel sad? Are you ever tired?" 

Obviously we can all answer "yes" to both of these questions at least some of the time. This is normal and doesn't usually warrant eliminating something from the diet. A more realistic approach might be to realize that we are all flawed, and not happy 100% of the time. Of course serious symptoms of depression or another medical problem that interfere with one's everyday life should never be minimized and I wouldn't want to give off that impression. If this if you, please know that this is a different topic completely. 

I think it's important that we recognize when something like stress or tiredness actually results from an overwhelming schedule or poor sleep habits instead of immediately blaming a food group. Unnecessarily cutting things out of your diet could actually cause more stress and more tiredness rather than "cure" the problem, or result in a nutrient deficiency. Be cautious of a non-healthcare practitioner who tries to convince you otherwise.

I have read a couple of other interesting blog posts that connect with this topic since listening to the podcast episode so I wanted to share those too in case this topic is of interest: