Adopting extreme diets in the name of health and wellness has become common practice. But whether or not they’re effective, sticking to them inevitably bumps up anxiety and stress (scientists have even drawn parallels between the effects of suddenly cutting out high-calorie foods to the withdrawal symptoms felt by detoxing drug addicts). So some food brands are assuring consumers they can “Fuck the diet,” as Unilever’s Du Darfst said in a controversial tagline earlier this year, by eating in a more sane way.
In a recent campaign for Healthy Choice, converts to the brand comically testify that the frozen meals helped save them from years of “desperate” diets that had them living abnormally deprived lives. A former “No-Carb Queen” confesses, “For years I thought I hated children’s laughter. I had no idea I was just hungry.” A man who had fallen into the “Juice Fast” explains that Healthy Choice entrées helped him “turn his life around” and realize he loves solid as well as liquid food. The spots conclude, “Don’t diet. Live healthy.” Similarly, Du Darfst, a line of convenience foods, aimed to acknowledge the frustrations tied to following various diet rules (e.g., “No fat, no carbohydrates and no food after 5:00,” as the brand’s site joked). The campaign aimed to help diet-conscious consumers “reawaken (their) passion for food.”
Healthy Choice and Du Darfst address consumers’ anxiety about making smart food choices by promoting balance rather than an “all or nothing” approach. Increasingly balance is becoming the prevailing ethos when it comes to healthy living, with the appeal of extremes—from food to energy drinks to medications—starting to fade.