Deceptions in the Food Industry: Books & Diet Plans from “Experts”

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One of the most flagrant deceptions in the food industry comes from “experts” shelling out advice to frustrated consumers who are tired of being sick and overweight.
 
I’ve just been reviewing some of the recipes and recommendations from Personal Trainer Bob Harper’s The Skinny Rules. On the Today Show, he talks about how our battle with obesity requires “a set of rules to live by.”
 
Diet and nutrition books are a dime a dozen in the marketplace and most of them are complete bunk.
 
According to a CDC study from 2010, more than one third of U.S. adults are considered obese.  This is not a new problem, and in fact, it’s only been worsening over the last 50+ years. These books continue to pour out of publishing houses, and so-called experts spout out their “wisdom” to teach people how to lose weight and get healthy.
 
And yet disease and obesity rates continue to rise.
 

What have we learned from diet books?

In the 1970s The Atkins Diet emerged (from Robert Atkins), and reappeared again in the 1990s as a way to combat weight and health issues by eschewing carbohydrates and eating more protein.
 
The South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston was all the rage in the early 2000s which told dieters avoid white flour, sugar, and potatoes (sounds good, right?), and eat meat, cheese, vegetables, nuts, fish and other foods. He also recommending watching calories, daily exercise, emphasized “lean proteins” and “healthy fats” such as soy-based and regular mayonnaise, vegetable oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and corn oil. His recommendation to avoid hydrogenated oils is certainly wise, but putting lard or bacon grease and butter on the avoid list is a big thumbs down.
 
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. has published a variety of books on health and nutrition such as 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. Like most of his conventional cohorts, he has poo-pooed saturated fats and cholesterol for years. Recently, he changed his advice and now says he no longer recommends low-fat dairy products. This is based on numerous studies. One showed that trans-palmitoleic acid – naturally found in dairy foods, could be linked to a substantial reduce in risk of of type 2 diabetes (which also lowers the risk of heart disease.
 
Two other studies from the Harvard School of Public Health (yes, the same source that announced in March of this year that red meat was associated with a higher mortality rate) found that those consuming low-fat dairy had a higher incidence of failure to ovulate in women, and drinking skim milk was associated with acne in teenage boys.
 
While Dr. Weil does recommend eating food from good, organic sources, but still does not endorse saturated fat fully and says to consume it with caution.  This is yet one more practitioner who won’t admit the fact that saturated fats and cholesterol are vital to health.
 

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Vegetarian and vegan diets have been popular in certain segments of the population since the 1960s, and are advocated by many mainstream health and medical sources.
 
The non-profit group PETA (People for the Ethical Protection of Animals) has for decades pushed the notion that a Vegan Diet is the way to maintain health.  The Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) states the following: “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
 
There are also many groups and dietary experts recommending that we go meatless to benefit our health, animal welfare, and the environment.  Organizations such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization believe the culprit of emissions from man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for the impending acceleration of climate change. The USDA has tips on becoming a vegetarian with recommendations on how to obtain nutrients and protein from highly processed foods with toxins and additives such as consuming soy milk and supplements for calcium or cereal or veggie burgers for iron and B12.
 
The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Dr. Neil D. Barnard is a current popular plant-based diet plan, as is Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman. There’s also The Kind Diet by actress Alicia Silverstone. All of these recommend avoiding meat and animal products.
 
There are a growing number of actors and celebrities who at one time embraced Vegan and Plant-Based Diets for periods of time, and are now coming back to meat-eating because of health issues. Ginnifer Goodwin, an actress who was vegetarian for some years was interviewed on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2011 and admitted she ate chicken eggs from an organic farm and that it was the best thing she had tasted in years.  Jude Law, Madonna, Orlando Bloom, and Ginnifer Goodwin, Mariel Hemingway are other celebrities who have at one time maintained a vegetarian or vegan diet have since returned to eating meat.
 
For a good explanation of the benefits of grassfed meats from healthy animals, read my post The Grassfed Meat Challenge: Busting Myths About Meat.
 

Gluten-free diets

Then there are the slew of books which recommend a Gluten-Free Diet (sounds good, right?) and adapting some  ”alternative” dietary habits. These gurus advise people who suffer from IBS, colitis, Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis, celiac disease and related issues to abandon gluten and adapt a number of equally bad dietary habits. Eating for IBS by Heather Van Vorous and Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern are two which come to mind.
 
These books advocate eating processed breads, grains, flours, and other toxic products such as rancid vegetable oils like canola, egg whites and low-fat foods, soy or rice milk..and, I even saw a recipe on Gluten-Free Girl’s site which recommends using vegetable shortening or Crisco. Eh gads!
 
Little do the unsuspecting, long-time suffering people of these disorders realize their suffering is far from over if they consume these foods which they are told are “safe” by these “experts”.
 
And yet despite all these diet books handed to us by the diet experts, gurus, doctors, personal trainers, dietitians, and weight-loss aficionados – the majority of them telling us to eat low-fat diets, count carbs and calories, eat more fiber, and exercise our brains out, our population is unhealthier and fatter than ever.  With so many conflicting messages from the media, the health industry, and medical doctors…
 

What’s a dieter to do?

Here’s the hard and fast truth: most of these plans and recommendations won’t work. The reason why is because the foods many of the foods we are told to eat are artificial, full of chemicals, and our bodies cannot gain nourishment from them. Those foods we are told to avoid, like saturated fat and cholesterol, are critical to health!
 

Here’s why this latest diet book won’t improve your health or help you lose weight:

1. He counts calories.

You should NEVER count calories. No one until the modern era ever did this. Your body needs food until it is full and it needs real calories to be healthy and function properly. If you  eat real food, your body will know when to stop and it will get exactly the amount of calories it needs.

 

2. He says nothing about the source of the food, whether it’s conventional or sustainable and organic.

The source is EVERYTHING. If you eat conventional food, you will continue to have health and weight problems because conventional food is altered, processed, and full of toxins and chemicals. It also has reduced nutritional content because of the way it is produced and grown. Organic, sustainable foods from natural, traditional sources of food contain more vitamins and minerals, saturated fats, carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, co-factors, and all your body needs. Numerous studies reveal organic foods are more nutritious than conventional (here’s one, and here’s another).

The reason why conventional meat is so bad for us is because of the way it is produced. Read this post about meat recalls, pink slime, drug-resistance, and why this problem happens because of farming and production practices. Did you know that last year, 1 in 4 packages of meat was found to be tainted in samples taken by researchers? Yes, it’s more of the same – meat from filthy, factory-farm sources. You won’t have that problem with clean, sustainable meat from healthy animals and birds on pasture.
 
Of particular importance in this situation is the quailty of the soil – the foundation of where all life begins. This is why conventional foods are inferior because the soil and bacteria quality of the foods is greatly diminished due to the toxic methods used in farming.
 

3. He recommends low-fat foods.

Low-fat foods have had all the natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, co-factors, etc. removed and should be considered processed foods in every sense.
 
If you eat low-fat foods, you won’t get full. You will constantly be hungry and continue to have weight issues and health problems. I talked to a man last week in Las Vegas who said his doctor told him to go on a low-fat, plant-based diet. I asked him how that was working out. He said, “so-so”. Then I asked him, “are you getting full on that diet?” He replied, “no, I am always hungry. I have to eat like 7-8 times per day.”
 
We’ve been told for many years that saturated fat is harmful for our health.  But even in the infamous Framingham Heart Study involving 5,200 men and women who have undergone extensive studies in well over 1,000 published reports since 1948, high cholesterol levels were not associated with increased heart disease risk after age 47.  In fact, after age 47, those whose cholesterol had decreased were at the highest risk of having a heart attack. “For each 1 mg/dl drop of cholesterol there was an 11 percent increase in coronary and total mortality,” was the report from the authors of the  study.
 
For more information on the fallacies of low-fat diet recommendations, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation site and read about The Skinny on Fats.
 

4.  He says to only eat grains at breakfast and lunch, and avoid them at the nighttime meal.

Guess what, if you’ve got digestive issues like most people, those grains are just going to add to your yeast, weight and health issues. You might lose weight initially on this diet, but it will come back to haunt you eventually.
 
The best thing to do if you want to lose weight and improve your health is a protocol like GAPS from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. It provides ample nutrition that is badly needed by most malnourished bodies, and provides it in the most digestible forms possible. Read more on the truth about wheat and grains, and why grains may not be as healthy as we’ve been told they are.
 

5. He recommends eating protein with every meal, but not fat.

Protein binds to fat, so if you remove the fat but eat a lot of protein, you’ll be in trouble because you won’t be able to absorb the protein in what you are eating. Fat and cholesterol are essential to every single function in the body.
 

6. He says to drink a big glass of water before every meal…no excuses.

This is one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. If you are having weight and health issues, it’s likely that your stomach acid levels aren’t normal and drinking a bunch of water with meals is going to make that problem worse. He says it’s good for digestion, but drinking a large amount of liquid before or during a meal will only cause your digestion to become sluggish and will make absorbing the food you are eating more difficult.
 

More in the Deceptions in the Food Industry Series:

Low-fat

Lean meats

Omega 3s

Low-sodium and no salt added

All-natural

Baked versus fried

Whole grains

 

 

6 Comments

  • July 10, 2012 - 10:01 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know HOW people don’t see this! My 95 y/o grandmother (wife of a cattle man) has eaten grass-fed red meat her whole life, uses real cream in her coffee, and has never counted calories a day in her life. Oh, and she still volunteers at the hospital daily, and goes to senior aerobics weekly. Ha! :) My grandfather lived to be 97 eating the same way. I’m sure they’d think all this modern-day diet junk is a bunch of nonsense…. because it is!

    • July 10, 2012 - 12:40 PM | Permalink

      Melissa – it’s great to hear testimonials from people who have eaten all the foods we are told are bad for us their whole lives- grassfed meats, whole dairy products including butter, cream, etc. and are not counting calories. Processed foods are the bane of our existence, and are responsible for many problems we have in modern life.

  • Diane
    July 10, 2012 - 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Oops…I guess it’s to keep me humble that I inadvertently wrote an incomplete sentence myself. =) The second one above. Oh–I just wrote another one! I guess I’m just being informal. =)

  • July 10, 2012 - 2:50 PM | Permalink

    The mainstream diet advice is so uniformly horrible, as you have shown so clearly in your post- that I am beginning to think the whole point of these diet plans are to keep people fat, sick, and dependent on these “experts”.

    Almost everybody who loses weight on a conventional diet plans gains it back, and suffers from malnutrition because of the unnatural diet. I guess this provides plenty of customers for diet plans, diet authors, the medical profession, and the drug industry, which is why these things almost never work in the long term.

    I read a fascinating book a few years ago, entitled “The Obesity Myth”. The author, an attorney who analyzed many studies, found that overweight people who were physically active and not on a diet were actually healthier than skinny people. But when overweight people tried to lose weight by using calorie restriction, aerobic exercise, and conventional diet plans, they were much unhealthier than every other group.He came to the conclusion that it was the combination of severe malnutrition and physical stress that caused the illnesses, not being overweight. Food for thought.

  • July 18, 2012 - 11:49 AM | Permalink

    The gluten-free thing over the last few years is especially bothersome as store-bought processed gluten-free grains are no better than store-bought processed gluten-containing grains. Its leaves people with a confused, skewed idea of what real food actually is.

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