The GI Joe fallacy, food, and you

In this episode, Claire explores the GI Joe fallacy and how it relates to reaching your nutrition and health goals.

Show Notes
Program note: Hey, glad you’re enjoying the podcast! In this episode, you might hear Claire talking about Nutritional Freedom and Foundations. Since we launched the podcast in 2020, we've undergone a makeover to improve the membership experience. For more, listen to our "And we're back! All the updates!" episode.

Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, founder of Flourish. We're on a mission to help women get healthy for good. Join me each week for a new episode that'll help you sustain healthy habits and nourish your body so you can Flourish in life.

When it comes to nutrition, does it feel like you know what to do, you're just not doing it? Or maybe you find yourself stuck in this annoying all or nothing cycle. If it sounds like I'm reading your diary, well, that was my diary for a while too. And it's also the story of the thousands of women I've personally coached.

That's why I created Flourish, the nutrition and body image support app made for women. If you recognize that diets don't work, but "just not dieting" isn't helping you feel your best either, download Flourish today. Your first live session with one of our credentialed nutrition and psychology experts is totally free, no credit card required.

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Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Nutritional Freedom podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, registered dietitian, founder of Nutritional Freedom, and total stationary nerd who's sharing episodes each week to help you ditch diets and get healthy for good.

We'll dive into what really works when it comes to creating sustainable nutrition and health habits, ways to improve your body image, and how all of this helps you live a life that's in alignment with your values. Because that's what really matters, right? Let's dive in.

Claire Siegel: Hey everyone! Welcome back. Episode 11. I am fired up for this topic. So I've had this experience so many times as I've just grown as a practitioner and worked with more women and read more books and, uh, just dabbled in different areas of counseling and coaching and psychology, where I will see a pattern in the behavior of our clients. Whether it's a behavior or a thought pattern, I'll see a pattern in our clients.

And then like a week later, I'll come across a study or a book that gives me the name. And it's so nice having names for things, you know? That was last week's episode, all about labels. I think that's one of the nice things about labels—labels that are helpful—is kind of being able to, to name something so that you can wrap your hands around it.

Now, if you listened to last week's episode, you know, that that's not always the case. Sometimes labels can be very unhelpful, which is what we talked about last week, but that's neither here nor there. If you want to talk about labels, if you want to learn about sugar addiction, food addiction... things like that, go check out last week's episode.

But today, today is something different. Today we are talking about something called the GI Joe fallacy. First of all, what the heck is. And second of all, what the heck it has to do with food. And third of all, what the heck it has to do with you here listening. All right?

So the idea behind the GI Joe fallacy is one that I've been familiar with for a long time.

You know, really, since I started working with our clients in Nutritional Freedom. So when I heard it named and explained by the woman behind the term—who is Laurie Santos, she is a Yale professor and a PhD researcher—I was so incredibly excited. It was so nice, because it's such an easier way of explaining it to our clients and now to you on the podcast.

What is the GI Joe Fallacy?

Claire Siegel: So if you're not familiar with the fallacy, that's okay. You are likely familiar with the idea behind it as well. Okay, so let me break it down for you. So the GI Joe fallacy is named after the 1980s GI Joe cartoon, which concludes with this very famous line. Something that you've probably said yourself.

That line is "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle." Yeah? You've probably said or thought that before. Maybe you said it kind of that's like, you know, water cooler, small talk, "Oh well now you know, and knowing is half the battle." And so what the GI Joe fallacy states, as you can probably imagine, is that knowing is not half the battle. When it comes to making decisions, knowing actually makes up a very small portion of the battle. All right?

So Laurie Santos states, "The lesson of much contemporary research in judgment and decision-making is that knowledge, at least in the form of our consciously accessible representation of a situation, knowledge is rarely the central factor controlling our behavior. The real power of behavioral control comes not from knowledge, but from things like situation selection, habit formation, and emotional regulation. This is a lesson that therapy has taken to heart, but one that "pure science" continues to neglect." All right?

How the GI Joe Fallacy relates to food

Claire Siegel: So that's what the GI Joe fallacy is. Knowing matters, but it certainly is not nearly as much as half the battle. And again, I... this was a pattern that I saw playing out all the time in, in our clients and specifically in the stories that they would tell me about, you know, their lives kind of before working with us. And I could tell... I would be on our discovery calls and I could tell that they knew so much about food and about healthy eating, right? They knew the foods that made them feel good and they knew what was getting in the way, and yet they didn't overcome the barriers. They didn't overcome the challenges that were getting in the way, and they weren't doing what they knew to do when it came to food.

The truth is you actually probably know a lot more about nutrition than you give yourself credit for, and that's true even if you don't consider yourself a healthy eater. Right? I know my audience here, my audience on social media tends to be women who have dieted for, you know, let's say at least five years. And you know, I'm not a big fan of diets. In fact, I'm not a fan at all. But you do gather a lot of data about your body as you go through those experiences.

And truth be told, you've been eating your whole life, so you actually know quite a bit, right? So, for example, you probably know that it's important to eat vegetables, to drink water, and, you know, when you want ice cream, you know, that eating a small bowl until you're satisfied is going to be better for you than eating the entire pint until you end up feeling sick afterwards. And yet, you may find yourself quite frequently only eating a serving or two of vegetables on a good day. You may find yourself mainlining coffee over a nice glass of water. And you may find yourself going through pints of ice cream at a time.

So the problem here is not a knowledge deficit. The problem is not that you don't know. You're just not doing what you know. And so the actual problem is... why? Why aren't you doing what you know? That is the work. I see women all the time jumping from diet to diet looking for the solution. Thinking, "Oh, this will be it."

"Oh, it's the carbs. Okay. I'm going to go do keto."

"Oh, it's the time that I was eating, so I'm going to go do intermittent fasting."

"Oh my gosh. It must be the meat. I'm going to go plant-based."

But none of those things, none of those frameworks help them in the long run be any more consistent with their nutrition. And it's not because they don't know. It's because they're not doing what they know. So why is that? Why is that? If you answer that question, you can really start to do some real transformational work. Okay?

Another reason why "healthy hacks" don't help

Claire Siegel: So this is also why I, I just feel the need to call BS on "healthy hacks" as a solution, despite what you see on the internet. And what I mean is like, you know, for example, you see those like, Instagram memes. It's like a T chart, and it's like this burger and fries with the bun and the cheese and the bacon that's, you know, 3000 calories, whatever. And then this one that's made in the air fryer and it's a Turkey burger and it's baked sweet potatoes, whatever... that's only 300. We know that! We know that and we can get that information for free. It's on Pinterest. It's on Instagram. It's everywhere.

But those healthy hacks don't solve anything. You know it.

And don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of removing resistance from healthy habits and coming up with quick, easy, sustainable, delicious ways of, you know, making sound, healthy, nourishing choices. But those healthy hacks are not what create consistency in your health habits. And they're certainly not what ensures the motivation for those habits are grounded in self-love and self-respect. All right? That's not it.

I've mentioned this before, but NF, my company, we've been dabbling in some corporate wellness work. Especially in the transition of everyone moving from the office place to working from home and really needing some help with their healthy habits and their nutrition. So I was talking to someone who works in HR at a tech company located on the west coast, and she was interested in NF coming in or going online on Zoom to do some corporate wellness workshops for their employees to help them in that transition.

And she asked, this was her kind of her quote or the idea that she shared, she goes like, "Yeah, I mean I'm hoping you could share some stress management tips like journaling or meditation. Or, you know, maybe some like healthy snack ideas and swaps like... you know, maybe carrots instead of chips."

And I kind of pause for a moment because, you know, I... we've done the corporate wellness thing and that's not exactly what we're in the business of doing as, as you can imagine. Like I'm not really big on the healthy hacks. You, you know, this stuff.

And so I told her, I said, "You know, I'm so happy to share that information with everyone if you think that is what's going to be the most helpful, but I know that your team is super sharp, super smart, very interested in health and, and clearly holds it as a value. So if you just kind of rattled those things off, don't you think that that's something that they already know too? And wouldn't it be better to spend our time together really digging into why they can know all that stuff and still not do it."

In fact, we found especially in corporate wellness, when we're working with, you know, women who are high-achieving, career-driven, really focused, it's so frustrating because there, you know, by all accounts successful in other areas of their life, but this food piece feels so discouraging and confusing and overwhelming, and like, they just cannot figure it out. Right?

Knowing is not enough when it comes to healthy eating.

Claire Siegel: And so, here we go. The moral of this story is that knowing is not enough. Knowing isn't half the battle. It is so much less than half the battle. And so there's nothing wrong with you if you know lots of things about healthy eating and still struggle to put it into action. Okay? You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to know more, but what is the point if you're not putting what you know into action?

This is, again, a pattern I see all the time. People are so hungry for knowledge when it comes to health and nutrition and they're listening to all the podcasts and reading all the books and trying all the diets and all the lifestyles, and yet their kind of baseline needs are not being met. They know, for example, about, you know, how, how good vegetables are for them.

They know it based on what they read and the research or in the books. And they also know it, more importantly I would argue, in terms of how they feel. You know, they've done whole30s, they've loaded up on veggies, for example. Or they know that sleep and stress management are so important in terms of health.

And yet it's so far down the priority list. And I'm not telling you to... you know, if you're hungry for knowledge and if you love kind of nerding out on this stuff, like by all means, go ahead. But if you're looking to knowledge to, to books, to podcasts, to education, to inspiration to solve the problem, but you're not consistently taking action on what you know, then we've got to pause for a second. All right? What is the point of learning all this if you're not going to put it into action?

So what do you do next?

Claire Siegel: So here's what I want you to do as we close out this episode. I always like to leave you with like a, kind of a practical exercise, because, well, because of everything I just said. I don't want this to just be one more podcast that you listen to and get inspired by. I want you to feel inspired. It's such a yummy feeling. But I want you to feel inspired to action. Okay?

So I want you to think about everything that you do know about health. Specifically, think about the things that you know but that you aren't putting into practice. Right? And I want you to ask yourself this question of... why is this difficult for me? What's the challenge?

I mean this literally. Like, I want you to sit down. I want you to get out some paper and pen. I would much prefer if you write it down than if you type it. It just sits differently with you. So get out a piece of paper, and at the top of the piece of paper—I'm going to make this so step-by-step easy for you that there's no reason why you shouldn't do it. Okay? Here's really what we're going to do. I'm going to, oh my gosh, this, this is great.

Okay, here we go. Piece of paper, eight and a half by eleven. I want you to draw a line down the middle, from top to bottom. On one side I want you to write down, heading: "Everything I know about health." And just start writing, don't question it. Don't, don't pause and ask if you're an expert. Just, this is, this is where your internal wisdom is going to come in. Okay? Write what you know, based on living in your body, okay? Left side is going to say everything I know to be true about health based on my own lived experience, fill it up. I guarantee you, you know, a lot more than you're giving yourself credit for.

I want you to go through and mark the things that you know that you're not doing or prioritizing consistently. And then for each one of those marked items—the things that you know, but that you're not doing—on the right side now I want you to answer the question, "Why is this difficult for me? And what is the challenge?"

You're going to come up with things like time and money. Okay, ask why. Keep asking why. If I know that this is important for my health and if I value my health and I feel like it takes too much time, why am I not willing to put the time in? Or why am I not able to put the time in? Keep asking why. Go deeper.

Keep asking why, why, why? And what you're going to find is that there's likely some unproductive thought pattern, some limiting belief, or an emotion that you want to avoid that is keeping you from consistently taking action in a positive way. All right?

This is the work we do and our foundations program. All right? We pair this deep mindset work with sound nutrition and health principles to help our clients ditch diets and get healthy for good. I'm clearly biased, but it is, it is awesome. And it's just the best. Okay? So we are currently enrolling new clients into our summer program, which starts in early July and we only open for enrollment four times a year so that we can really focus and work with the women who come into our program. All right?

So if you want to get on a discovery call with me and determine whether or not foundations is a fit for you, it's like dating it has to be a mutual match, okay? So the discovery call is kind of our first date and we get to decide... do we want to keep seeing each other, okay? So if you want to hop on a discovery call with me, go ahead. Head to nutritionalfreedom.co/programs. You'll fill out an application, I'll review it, and then I'll, I'll reach out if I feel like it's a fit. And if I don't, I'm going to be super honest with you and put you in a better direction. I've got, I've got people. Okay?

Well, thank you so much for being here today. I hope you enjoy learning about the GI Joe fallacy. I would love to hear if this is something you've experienced. Feel free to send me a DM on Instagram. My DMs are popping right now with podcast feedback, ideas, commentary. It's so much fun.

And, of course, if you could be so kind as to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes, it truly means the world to me. It helps more people find the Nutritional Freedom content and message. And you know what, I'm on a mission to get women off diets so that we can create a world of happier, healthier, more confident women. All right? So if you're down for that, I need your help. Okay?

I will see you next week. Bye y'all.

Claire Siegel:

Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Flourish podcast. If you enjoyed it, please take a second to leave us a five-star review or better yet, share it with a friend. And if you're ready to start your own journey to get healthy for good with accountability from expert coaches and the support of an incredible community, head to the show notes to get started on your Flourish journey.

I'll see you in the next episode.

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Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.

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