If I had known about this weight loss secret the food industry doesn’t want you to know about – I would have saved myself a ton of heartache, frustration and yo-yo dieting. It makes me incredibly sad that people out there are doing whatever it takes to get healthy, thin and look their best – but instead are facing an uphill battle because of what the food industry has done to our food and the way they are marketing it to us.
We’ve all seen the 100-calorie portion sized snacks at the grocery store, and packaged diet foods and drinks labeled as “low-calorie”, “light”, and “zero” line the shelves. I personally know many people that crack open a Diet Coke in the morning (and again, and again throughout the day) and think that because it is “zero calorie” it’s the same as drinking water. Well – I’m here to tell you it’s not.
Many people believe that it really doesn’t matter where your calories come from, as long as you don’t eat too many of them you’re on the right track. However, I see things differently. When planning a meal, the thought “how many calories does this contain?” rarely crosses my mind anymore. I don’t count calories on a regular basis and you shouldn’t have to either if you start reading ingredient lists!
Not all calories are equal.
For example, I can eat one Twinkie loaded with GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, polysorbate 60, partially hydrogenated oil – and it will be 135 calories. On the other hand, I can choose to eat a large pear full of fiber, phytonutrients, copper, vitamins C and K, and still ingest about 135 calories. Which would you choose? For me it’s an easy choice!
Your body treats calories differently, depending on the source.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a medical doctor and epidemiologist, has studied how different types of foods are digested by the body and their association with weight gain. He says that although calories release the same amount of energy in a laboratory, the human body is much more complex. According to Dr. Mozaffarian in the New York Times, “the evidence is very clear that not all calories are created equal as far as weight gain and obesity. If you’re focusing on calories, you can easily be misguided”. This belief is echoed by Dr. Mark Hyman:
“It is true that, in a vacuum, all calories are the same. A thousand calories of Coke and a thousand calories of broccoli burned in a laboratory will release the same amount of energy. But all bets are off when you eat the Coke or the broccoli. These foods have to be processed by your metabolism (not a closed system). Coke and broccoli trigger very different biochemical responses in the body—different hormones, neurotransmitters and immune messengers. The Coke will spike blood sugar and insulin and disrupt neurotransmitters, leading to increased hunger and fat storage, while the thousand calories of broccoli will balance blood sugar and make you feel full, cut your appetite and increase fat burning. Same calories—profoundly different effects on your body”.
So many of us have been misled, and the Food Industry doesn’t want you to know the truth.
When I realized that junk food companies were teaching and catering to health professionals I was horrified (and some responsible dietitians are horrified as well). There’s a long list of companies and industry associations that are accredited to teach continuing education courses to registered dietitians, including General Mills, Kraft, and Pepsico. On Coca-Cola’s educational website – BeverageInstitute.org – they provide free accredited educational programs on GMOs, low-calorie sweeteners, and weight loss to “nurses, dietitians, health educators, and other health professionals”.
If that isn’t a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is!
Coca-Cola recently stated, “In 2014 alone, the number of courses completed by RNs, RDs, pharmacists and other HPs exceeded 300,000, and today more than 40,000 nurses know more about the safety and benefits of low-calorie sweeteners as a direct result of these programs”. Their courses advocate the use of low-calorie artificial sweeteners and indicate that cutting calories is the key to managing your weight – regardless of where those calories come from. They obviously hope that their “educational programs” will encourage health professionals to recommend their low-calorie foods to future patients who are trying to lose weight – it’s great advertising for these junk food companies – and it works. Some registered dieticians are now telling people it’s okay to eat Hostess cupcakes if they are in a “100 calorie” pack and to go ahead and eat at Taco Bell if it’s “fresco-style”. This would be funny if it wasn’t true.
The research behind these programs are largely funded (sponsored) by the junk food companies themselves and non-profit industry groups such as the International Food Information Council (IFIC), the International Life Sciences Institute and the Calorie Control Council. All the while, independent research is suppressed. It has been shown that industry-funded nutrition research is often biased “with implications to public health”. As put by Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor and author:
“Sponsorship almost invariably predicts the results of research… results are highly likely to favor the sponsor’s interest. The companies are not buying the results, although it sometimes seems that way. Instead, it seems to me that researchers who are willing to accept grants from food companies tend to be less critical about the way they design their studies. I often notice that sponsored studies lack appropriately rigorous controls… As a rule, corporate funding discourages critical thinking – or promotes uncritical thinking – about the importance of individual foods or nutrients in healthful diets. Sponsored studies have only one purpose – to establish a basis for marketing claims. They are not carried out to promote public health”.
Going down the rabbit hole of the Calorie Control Council.
Many of the dollars being used to promote the belief that “all calories are equal” come from the Calorie Contro lCouncil. This is just a non-profit group of junk food and chemical companies that have banded together to sponsor research to provide “evidence-based claims” that their low-calorie processed food is good for you. They also offer free accredited educational courses to help drive their point home. Their members include Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Co, McNeil Nutritionals (Splenda), Nutrinova (Ace-K) and Ajinomoto USA (Aspartame) and they own several propaganda websites – including Aspartame.org and CaloriesCount.com.
These new food inventions are ruining your health.
While cutting calories might help you lose weight in the short-term, it can be horrible for your long-term health. This is because the ingredients that the industry is packaging up for us are designed to increase their profits while expanding our addiction to their “food-like” concoctions – which eventually expands our waistlines too. Many packaged low-calorie diet foods contain ingredients that can rob us of our health, some cause us to eat more than we should and most of which you would never cook with at home:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined Flour
- GMOs (soybean oil, canola, corn, corn syrup, etc)
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- Hidden MSG
- Artificial Colors
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
For example, a Weight Watchers “Smart Ones” Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata meal rings in at just 250 calories, yet it contains a shocking number of harmful additives including sodium phosphate, partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and a lot of hidden MSG. None of the ingredients are organic or non-GMO verified and it’s full of sugar and corn-derived ingredients. You’d think that “Chicken” would be the main ingredient, but “Cooked White Meat Chicken” is near the very bottom of the ingredient list. I could go on. I truly find it sad that anyone considers this healthy food!
Speaking of healthy, I checked out the ingredients on a container of Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup, which only has 100 calories. What could possibly be unhealthy about veggie soup? It turns out a lot. Their soup contains soybean oil, sugar, and hidden MSG. They can get away with the term “Healthy” on their label only because they meet the FDA definition of healthy – but definitely not mine. Try this Mexican Lentil Soup recipe instead.
Many “diet” processed foods contain artificial chemical sweeteners because they’re low-calorie, such as in Yoplait 100-Calorie Greek Yogurt, sweetened with Splenda (linked to leukemia) and Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K), which is processed with the carcinogen methylene chloride. Even the FDA admits that methylene chloride is used in the processing of Ace-K, but deemed it safe nonetheless: “where an additive has not been shown to cause cancer, even though it contains a carcinogenic impurity, the additive is not subject to the legal effect of the Delaney clause”. Not to mention that Yoplait also includes “sugar” that may be from GMO sugar beets and the milk likely comes from cows fed a GMO grain diet – there is nothing healthy about Yoplait! Try this Chia Fruit Salad Pudding instead.
When I began investigating packaged low-calorie foods I was outraged with what I found.
This upset me because I know that most people are really trying to eat right. Many of you are trying to choose healthy food and believe that these packaged low-calorie foods are a good choice. I also know that many of you are ticked off about what’s happening in the food industry and upon reading my investigations and finding out the truth, you say:
“Tell me what I can eat!”
“That’s my favorite brand – oh no!”
“I was addicted to that!?”
“I just fed that
to my child this morning – what am I suppose to do now?”
I’ve heard your concerns. It comes down to getting back into our kitchen and cooking real food at home, using the least processed ingredients as possible. When you eat whole foods – especially plant based foods that are low in sugar such as leafy greens, vegetables, and fermented foods, you optimize your gut bacteria (sources 1, 2, 3,4, 5). Recent research tells us that healthy gut bacteria is key to a healthy weight, and scientists are continuing to discover this phenomenon (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Similar to how antibiotics (which destroy gut bacteria) are used to fatten up farm animals, it only makes sense that an unhealthy gut could fatten us up too.
There’s mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners, preservatives, pesticides, food packaging materials, high fructose corn syrup, colors and other food additives contribute to obesity (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). The effects are complex – some of these chemicals increase the number of fat cells, others expand the size of fat cells, and still others influence appetite, cravings, fullness, and how well the body burns calories.
When you eat crappy chemicals, your body becomes a fat, toxic waste dump.
Yale researches recently conducted a scientific review comparing popular diets and found that it’s best to just eat unprocessed food! They concluded that “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention….The case that we should, indeed, eat true food, mostly plants, is all but incontrovertible”. This seems so logical, yet it’s a radical idea. One thing is for sure, they are discovering what I’ve known all along – simply eating real food is where it’s at and I’m never turning back.
Can you imagine if all of us simply stopped buying processed food full of additives? We would change the world!
I know that many of you don’t know where to start, or even how to cook (believe me, I’ve been there). I’ve figured out how to navigate this over-processed food world and I’m going to show you how to do it with ease, peace of mind and an easy to follow plan.
Do you know someone who is still counting calories? Please share this post with them! It’s time we get the truth out to everyone!