Today our supermarkets have jumped on the health bandwagon with a cornucopia of food labeled as “diet food”. Most of it just isn’t. It is the triumph of deceptive labeling over truth. For real food to be classed as diet food it must meet some very specific standards before receiving this label, Then and only then can we buy this food with confidence and know it is going to help us in our goal of trying to lose weight.
We are bombarded with the myth that low fat equals diet food. How completely untrue. Low fat food has been touted as being able to save us from obesity for the past twenty years and the evidence has proven this to be false. Those who push this barrow argue that if a gram of fat contains 10 calories of energy and a gram of carbohydrate contains only 4 calories then it follows that fat must make you fat. So if we reduce our fat intake we must be reducing our caloric intake and we will lose weight. This wrongly assumes that the body treats all calories as being equal. Actually fats are digested in a totally different way from carbohydrates. Food scientists have now decided that it doesn’t add much to your weight at all. Too much fat might our blood cholesterol levels might rise but only in the presence of high levels of dissolved carbs. We may end up with loose bowel movements because the liver and the gall bladder process the fat and eliminate it. Low fat foods don’t really make you thinner but they do make food producers rich.
Food producers have made huge profits selling us diet food labeled as low fat which just doesn’t work. Although the fat content might be low but it must have dramatically increased levels of salt, artificial flavors and sugars to enhance the flavor. Fat is vital to the human palette. It is a flavor enhancer and carries the flavor of food onto the palette. When processors reduce the fat component of food it tastes bland and unappetizing. The texture changes and feels dry in the mouth. To make it edible the producer needs to add flavors, salt and texture enhancers. This food is now anything but healthy. It certainly doesn’t qualify as diet food.
This food fraud is based on the myth that a calorie is a calorie, particularly where carbohydrates are concerned. True diet food should contain a balance of complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come as simple carbohydrates such as sugar and complex carbohydrates such as unprocessed grains which are full of fiber. Simple carbohydrates are easily digested and enter the bloodstream quickly where they trigger the insulin response and are captured by insulin and turned into glycogen. Our liver uses glycogen for energy. When the liver’s glycogen stores are full the excess sugars are converted into fat which is deposited on your body in special called adipose tissue. This inconveniently is located on our thighs, stomach, hips and butt. When we consume a gram of complex carbohydrate it also contains 4 calories just like the gram of simple carbohydrate. However the body takes a lot longer to digest the complex carbs and the digested sugars enter the bloodstream slowly and steadily. There is no sudden spike in blood sugar and no dramatic insulin response leading to fat being deposited. The blood sugar stays constant, provides energy we burn and the result is no fat. Complex carbs also moderate our appetite because we feel fuller for longer.
True diet food contains the correct balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins and be must full of the right minerals and vitamins essential for building a healthy life. This is food grown in good soil with good mineral profiles and zero or minimal fertilizers and pesticides. In truth good food, bought from good sources and prepared properly and not over-processed could be truly labeled as diet food. As our diets move from the healthier and natural diets of our grandparent and further back we move further from this ideal. Our ancestors ate much higher proportions of fiber, complex carbs and proteins than we do today and it showed in obesity being almost unheard of. When I attended school in the 1950s and 1960s obesity amongst school children was extremely rare. When I take my son to school today I am shocked to see how common it has become. These children are eating major amounts of junk food and their obesity levels reflect this.
The idea that a diet food can help us lose weight is misleading. To achieve weight loss and a healthy life we need to find a good weight loss program that focuses on healthy eating and healthy exercise. If our ancestors didn’t have anything like the prevalence of degenerative diseases such as Diabetes Type 2 as our generation we should ask ourselves why and then follow their example. Their diets were far more natural, had far less processing and much lower quantities of hidden sugars in them. To our grandparents and further back diet foods were an apple a day, full grain breads, porridge and grits and vegetables. Good health grew out of good eating habits. Long life grew from lifestyle, not gimmicks like health food.
I know we all want a magic bullet to solve our obesity problems, personally and as a nation. Diet food isn’t going to be the solution. We need to return to far simpler healthy food we prepare. We can’t trust the food producers to provide us with diet food because they can’t resist the temptation to add sugars, salt, preservatives and artificial flavors. To succeed in losing weight, you are your best ally and your only hope. Find a good weight loss program with a good diet planner and you will reach your goals. Stick to it for the weeks and months this is going to take. Set a goal of losing 3 pounds a week and commit for the long term. And get a good diet program. You just can’t do it alone without support and sound advice. Good luck. Millions of people have proven it is doable. Join them and enjoy life to its fullest again.