thoughts on "dieting"

I used to watch "The Biggest Loser" fairly regularly, but with less time for television, I only catch a few shows of anything here and there. It has probably been a season or two since I have really committed to an episode of it, but this past season I have partially watched two episodes. Both times I was horrified.

Not only is the show one giant promo for food products, the show has lost its core value of doing what's best for the participants. After a work out, a trainer approached a still-chubby man and advised him to eat a chocolate-flavored Fiber One bar because it "has the fiber and nutrients he needs" to recover. Panning in on the logo on the label, the man ate it as eagerly as he would a chocolate bar, desperate for the processed junk that got him in his dire situation in the first place. The second episode, clearly sponsored by the Dairy Association, showed yet another still-chubby man at the table eating a bowl of cereal with a large, attractive glass pitcher of milk sitting next to him. Before the trainer walked in casually, he poured another dollop of milk into his bowl. While, I totally agree that milk is a healthy, natural food, the trainer really irked me when she said that she was so excited to "see him eat a bowl of cereal with healthy, fat-free milk, which is filled with calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium, to fuel his upcoming workout," making sure to emphasize that it should be part of everyone's diet on a daily basis. Not only that, but the show feeds these folks protein waters, artificial sweeteners, and other junk when in reality the show should be teaching them how to eat real food.

The same thing bothers me about "healthy" vitamin waters (why do you need added nutrients, artificial flavorings and colors in your water?), protein supplements (Americans get plenty of protein in their diets – the excess is secreted through urine, so you're literally urinating away your money), artificial sweeteners (skip the carcinogens and eat dessert in moderation), and other products that make "health" claims. And all the diets endorsed by Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Special K and the like are a bunch of garbage as well. Guess what? If you eat only 1200 to 1500 calories of real food, and exercise, you'll lose weight, too, with the added health benefits. Madness.

My point is, I am an advocate for food. Whole, fresh foods that are minimally processed and prepared as close as possible to eating time. Food manufacturers are out to make money, not to keep you healthy. You have to be your own advocate. The less health claims on the label and the more whole the food, the better off you will be.

And as you fill your plate with them, you'll find that there's less room for the junk anyways.

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