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Why Donald Trump is like a Fad Diet

Why Donald Trump is like a Fad Diet

Donald Trump photo by Gage Skidmore

This week I had planned to share a post about the ketogenic diet and athletic performance, but like many of you, I have been distracted by the results of the US election. I know I don’t get personal here often, let alone political, and this post may seem a bit opportunistic; but really, I am just trying to process the results of this long, nasty race in a way that I understand.

I think a lot of us woke up (or went to bed) on Wednesday morning, thinking, “How could this have happened? How could anyone vote for someone who is so xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist and a compulsive liar, let alone 59.6 million people?”

My political leanings are a little left of centre, and like most people, I naturally surround myself with those who have similar views as me. Social media algorithms compound this echo chamber effect, so that the status updates we see and news articles we read all feed into this worldview.

As I tried to branch out and understand the views of people who support Trump, I didn’t just find the religious right or MRAs; I read about and saw videos of people who were severely impacted by the economic downturn, were fearful that their small towns were being taken over by “outsiders”, and just didn’t feel like they were being served by their government. They felt unheard. Silenced. Hopeless. They wanted change. Not just small changes – an overhaul.

Sound Familiar?

When someone is unhappy with their weight or their body, it can feel hopeless. They feel unheard by doctors who blame all their health issues on their weight. They feel silenced by well-meaning people who simply tell them to “eat less, move more” They want change, and as much as they hear about “sustainable weight loss”, the number on the scale simply feels insurmountable unless they do something drastic.

So even though they know in their gut that eating 30 bananas a day is probably not nutritionally sound (not to mention, a one-way ticket to not wanting bananas ever again!) They do it, because they think, “how bad could it be?” or “it’s worth it if I want to lose weight,” or “I’m different – this is going to work for me.”

Similarly, while there are many people who have embraced some of Trump’s hateful rhetoric about women, Muslims, Mexicans, people of colour and the LGBTQ community, I feel that there are others who choose to ignore it because they feel that the benefits of the promised sweeping change outweigh the negativity. Trump was a novice outsider when everyone else was part of the political elite. (The irony of a billionaire not considered to be part of the “elite” is not lost on me.) He used simple language and “tells it like it is”, unlike seasoned politicians, who read polished speeches from teleprompters. He made sweeping promises – Repeal Obamacare. Tear up NAFTA. Build the wall. Drain the swamp. Make America Great Again! Who cares if we don’t have details on how it’s actually going to happen? How bad could it be? It’s worth it if I want my life to be better.

On the other hand, although Clinton would’ve been the first female president of the United States, for many of Trump’s supporters, she was just part of the status quo and would likely lead the country along the same trajectory it had been for the past eight years. She is like the “sensible” advice of “eat your vegetables and lean protein”. Technically it works, but it’s not the “new”, flashy quick fix that people want.

Now What?

A part of me feels like Trump’s presidency will be like a fad diet – that he has over-promised and will under-deliver. I predict that Trump’s lack of political experience and fiery temperament will get in the way of creating the changes that his supporters are looking for.

A more potentially dangerous outcome is that he does deliver on his promises, while ignoring the negative consequences. It’s not uncommon for people who are dieting to simply see their weight loss as a sign of health, while ignoring potential nutrient deficiencies or a disordered relationship with food.

Or I could be proven wrong. Just as there is now emerging evidence for potential benefits of “fad diets” like Paleo and intermittent fasting, Trump could very well become a president who is well-liked by the people. “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

I wish us all the best.

Why @realDonaldTrump is Like a Fad #Diet Click To Tweet

6 Comments

  • Casey Berglund on Nov 11, 2016 Reply

    What a great post, Vincci. I wish us the best too. I guess people are just doing their best with the tools they have.

  • Ben on Nov 10, 2016 Reply

    Trump is an actor, he had a script to act out in anyway that would get the attention of the press and it worked. He most likely had a very small publicity budget in comparison to others in the past history of the election as the press did it all for free and on the front page. Like any politician, what is said during the campaign is all talk and soon forgotten as it is not possible or any other reason. But then most politicians are actors or at least in Canada our leader is.

    • Vincci Tsui on Nov 10, 2016 Reply

      Great point! Thanks for your comments, Ben.

  • Jen @ Pretty Little Grub on Nov 10, 2016 Reply

    Such a great analogy. I believe that he overpromised and will under deliver, but I guess we will see.
    Also very excited to read your article on ketogenic diet and athletic performance, I’m writing a very similar piece for Running Room right now.

    • Vincci Tsui, RD on Nov 10, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Jen! I was hesitant to write a non-nutrition post, but was inspired by your Thinking Out Loud series! I should get to reading those ketogenic diet studies now…

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