Home BlogChildlessness How Wellness Diets that Promise You’ll Get Pregnant Can Cause Harm

How Wellness Diets that Promise You’ll Get Pregnant Can Cause Harm

by Tansy Boggon

Those of us trying to get pregnant can fall prey to people and programs with promises that we’ll conceive if we follow their diet or lifestyle plan.

Follow this diet, and you’ll get pregnant

‘If you follow this diet, I’d be surprised if you’re not pregnant by the year’s end’ was what an alternative practitioner said to me years ago when my husband and I were trying to conceive.

Yet, those words did not give me hope or the resolve to follow their restrictive eating plan. No, their words were disheartening and infuriating.

Those words epitomised everything that is wrong with wellness culture, which promises a plethora of health outcomes from reversing allergies and autism to glowing skin—weight loss to the reversal of infertility and autoimmune diseases.

Sitting across the table from that practitioner, who was so sure of herself and her recommendations, I reached a turning point in my perception of wellness diets.

The lure of wellness diets

Until then, I was captivated by the wellness jargon that alternative practitioners and online gurus spouted.

I’d been to workshops where presenters talked of conspiracies and collusions with our government dietary recommendations (which are supposedly outdated and industry-biased). These presenters perpetuated fear in our nutritionally devoid foods and the ever-increasing chemical load that is making us sick and infertile.

I was sucked in, hook, line and sinker. So much so that I confidently repeated much of what they said in my own workshops (sorry to any of you I harmed in this way).

Our eating can become controlled and restrictive if we believe that eating right means we will get pregnant.

Now, I’d like to make some disclaimers here.

To this day, I still choose to use organic makeup, biodegradable cleaning products and toilet paper. I am on board with avoiding food laced with artificial flavours and colourings and personal products containing synthetic deodorisers, as these choices do help me alleviate monthly PMS symptoms and skin irritation. I have no problem with these personal choices.

The issue for me, and what infuriated me so much when I was told I’d likely be pregnant by the year’s end, was the promise—it was the conviction with which that practitioner spoke.

How wellness diets can be harmful

I believe it is this convincing language that many wellness advocates employ that is harmful.

In desperation, you’ll try whatever someone’s promoting if it provides a sliver of hope for a baby or to be well again.

Now, the practitioners providing advice may think, what harm could there be in providing hope or helping someone get healthier, even if they don’t conceive or reverse what ails them?

The harm is in the promise, whether overt or covert. The promise or guarantee causes people to follow someone’s recommendations diligently. And in some cases, so much so that they fear getting it wrong.

I believe it is the convincing language that many wellness advocates employ that is harmful.

Wellness diets perpetuate anxiety and stress

A practitioner or ‘health guru’s’ conviction can cause us to fear slipping up on their protocol. It can cause us anxiety should someone bring the cake of death (i.e. laden in sugar and gluten) to work in celebration of someone’s birthday or dare to spray sunscreen at the beach.

It is the anxiety and stress that is created by such fearmongering that may do more to deteriorate one’s health than the supposedly unhealthy behaviours they were engaged in before embarking on the wellness diet. Or should I say wellness plan, because we’re told they’re not diets when they most definitely are!

Want to learn how to identify a wellness diet? Read my blog on diets in disguise.

I believe these protocols and plans (aka diets) are harmful, whether that is the practitioner’s intention or not.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe most practitioners have good intentions and genuinely want to help people be healthier. However, I don’t think some realise the harm they cause.

A woman sitting with her pregnant belly showing, looking at a printed sonogram image.
Those trying to conceive may be so hopeful that they would try anything a wellness guru may suggest.

Wellness diets can’t guarantee good health or a healthy pregnancy

I believe the promises of specific outcomes, whether guaranteed or not, are harmful.

Just standing on the stage (or posting on social media) and saying, ‘I was unhealthy, impotent and infertile before I adopted this way of eating or lifestyle’, is enough to convince people that they also need to follow this person’s protocol if they are to radiate health and reverse the same aliments.

The guaranteed outcomes can cause us to try following someone’s protocol perfectly and feeling like an absolute failure if we don’t adhere to the plan.

And that fear of failure can be immense if it comes with the ultimate price (or punishment)—you won’t get pregnant, or you will die a drawn-out and painful death.

So, at that moment, sitting across from that alternative practitioner, I felt the immense pressure of this practitioner’s recommendations. And yet, at the same time, I knew that there were no guarantees.

Although there was a part of me that would have done anything to get pregnant, there was also a part of me that was wiser—a part of me that knew that sometimes shit happens and you don’t control the outcome.

Realising this, I decided to let go of attachment to the end goal and eat, move and live in a way that feels good to me rather than follow some convoluted, confusing, unscientifically founded eating protocol.

Three pregnant women sitting cross-legged on yoga mats with their hands in pray position.
Self-care to get pregnant is not harmful, except when there is immense guilt and shame for not doing it right.

No diet can control our fate

Today, like it has been most of my life, my diet is objectively healthy.

I exercise most days. I am happy and deeply love my husband. I enjoy and feel inspired by my work. And I do not have children.

Children were not meant to be, and that’s life.

We don’t always get what we want. We don’t control the outcome of our actions.

As the saying goes, life works in mysterious ways.

How to adopt lifestyle behaviours when the outcomes are unknown

Although I do not have children, my wellness journey in that pursuit has provided me with deep empathy and compassion for those trying to conceive or achieve specific health outcomes. 

I know how tempting the promises of certain outcomes can be when we so desperately want them. 

However, I now know how psychologically harmful this can be. 

Not only does it create false promises and hope, it can create an all-or-nothing mentality or immense stress and pressure to do everything right based on the diet or lifestyle plan.

It can lead to immense disappointment and grief when the result you want—aka pregnancy—doesn’t eventuate. In some cases, it can lead to orthorexic tendencies or even eating disorders.

I believe in taking a more relaxed and joyful approach to adopting health-promoting behaviours as they may or may not achieve the desired outcome.

If your new lifestyle behaviours are enjoyable and sustainable, there is no harm. However, if you are straining to stand on your head for hours a day, I give you permission to stop. 

I want you to know that you are not broken. Whether you conceive or not is not your fault.

Even if past behaviours influence your fertility now, no amount of blaming yourself changes that in this moment. Right now, show yourself the compassion and grace your body needs to heal and conceive—if that is meant to be.

Front cover of novel by Tansy Boggon The Tears of a Woman

The Tears of a Woman

— A Novel —

The story of a woman’s emotional struggle to become a mother while navigating weight bias and self-doubt.

The Tears of a Woman is the sequel to The Weight of a Woman, although it is enjoyable as a standalone read.

Shedding light on the harms of wellness diets through a fictional story

In my novel The Tears of a Woman, I shed light on how wellness diets, and traditional and alternative medicine can be harmful through false promises and the weight bias those in large bodies may face.

Weight is often assumed to be the cause of so many health issues, fertility included. 

Whether it is an offhand comment by your GP or a supplement that promises to promote fertility, it can hurt when a pregnancy doesn’t eventuate.

Those trying to conceive, searching for anything that will work, may be lured by promises or diligently follow unproven plans as they will try anything.

In The Tears of a Woman, the protagonist, Jenni, seeks out and tries naturopathy, smoothies, herbal teas, yoga, cacao ceremonies and acupuncture.

When all that fails, she and her partner try to adopt. Yet there are health requirements and weight discrimination there, too.

In writing this novel, I wanted to hint at the harms of these promises and the unsolicited advice and hurtful comments those trying to conceive may receive.

Although it is a fictional story, much of the story is drawn from my own experience with infertility and working with people with weight and body image concerns.

A red apple with a heart shape cut out of it, sitting on a wooden surface.
Original photo on this blog on the harms of wellness dies that promise you’ll conceive.

Are you struggling with fertility issues or facing childlessness?

I hope you find this blog helpful if you are trying to conceive and feel confused or overwhelmed by contradictory information.

If you are facing childlessness despite a desire to have children, I hope through sharing my story, you feel less alone and know that a joyful life is possible without children.

I write about childlessness here on this blog and in my novel, The Tears of a Woman. Check out my blogs:

I also share my childlessness journey in other articles and podcasts, such as:

Much Love,

Tansy xox

Tansy Boggon holding Joyful Eating open to Chapter 2: Debunk the Diet Myth

Download the FREE Chapter: Debunk the Diet Myth

Discover the physiological and psychological reasons why diets don’t work, whether for weight loss or a wellness diet that promises ‘optimal health’.

Joyful Eating: How to Break Free of Diets and Make Peace with Your Body

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Kat April 3, 2023 - 9:34 am

Thank you so much for this blog post. I fell into this trap. I completely overhauled my diet, care products, beauty products, home products, etc. I even tried to avoid touching receipts because of the BPA as recommended in “It Starts With the Egg.” Following these recommendations so diligently was not easy, so it was a huge source of pain as I never had any successes with any of my IUI or IVF treatments. This went on for years. Yes, wellness practitioners should consider those of us who are diligent and desparate and temper their recommendations to things that are truly worthwhile changing your whole life over for a hope.

Tansy Boggon April 8, 2023 - 3:06 pm

Thanks for reaching out, Kat, and sharing your experience.

Many of us fall into this ‘trap’ when trying to start a family, diligently following recommendations and potentially thinking that we are the problem.

I am sorry that it was a source of pain for you, as it is for many of us.

I deeply hope that sharing my journey here and in my books helps you to feel less alone and raises awareness of the harm that some practitioners cause with their recommendations and promises.

Tansy xox


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