Lobbyists and your perception of a healthy diet
Money talks, and unfortunately it speaks the wrong language when it comes to nutrition. Lobbyists from the sugar, cereal, corn, and soy companies have been exploiting small data points to promote unhealthy diets to Americans for years.
Just take a look at the food pyramid we grew up with:
You probably saw some version of this in your grade-school classroom. The pyramid claims that the basis of a healthy diet is bread, breakfast cereal, and other assorted carbohydrates. It isn’t.
As sad as it is, money leads American health guidelines and to this day, most people still believe a lot of the propaganda. My theory is that the American government has been paid to promote three huge nutrition lies:
1. Low-fat diets
To this day, the government still recommends a low-fat diet, which is not only unhealthy but also so lame. Fat is delicious; it also helps you stay full and keeps you healthy.
Low-fat diets discourage you from eating healthy foods like avocados, nuts, and fish; they raise your risk of heart disease, and often cause people to gain weight.
I have talked about this before, but the bottom line is, fat is awesome.
2. Carbohydrates in the morning
As a kid I grew up with Wheaties commercials insisting I fuel myself “like an athlete” by eating breakfast cereal in the morning. These claims were backed up by studies saying that carbohydrates are beneficial for muscle growth and peak athletic performance.
And sure, if you are Michael Phelps, eating carbs will help you swim two miles this morning, but if you are a trying to lose weight, carbs in the morning are unnecessary. Eating a high-protein breakfast will help you stay full throughout the day.
Another common misconception is that eating carbs in the morning gives you more time to digest them. While I don’t recommend stuffing your face within two to three hours of bedtime; unless you are planning on dying today, you have plenty of time to digest those carbohydrates.
3. Soy is wonderful
Until recently soy was considered to be a superfood. People believed that it was part of a healthy diet, that edamame was what keeps Japanese people alive for so long. So naturally, people started putting soy in everything.
There is actually nothing inherently bad about soy in moderation—it is good a source of protein and some vitamins. Unfortunately for men, some evidence suggests that soy negatively affects testosterone levels and sperm count. Additionally, probably don’t feed soy-based formula to your baby either, as it can increase their breast size and decrease their testosterone levels.
These claims have been debunked time and time again by people far more qualified than me, and that is why I included links to their findings.
Of course, there is so much more nutrition information out there beyond these broadly disseminated falsehoods. Since I graduated college, I’ve read three nutrition books a year. What I’ve learned is that while the health industry spends an eternity circle-jerking itself, it’s been letting the snack food industry’s lobbyists continue to help dictate the low-fat doctrine to the American people. Want a summary of every nutrition book ever written? Here you go:
1) Eat more vegetables.
2) Drink more water.
3) Get a good night’s sleep.
4) Eating fat won’t make you fat.
5) White sugar is bad.
6) Low-carb diets make it easy to lose weight.
7) Eat non-processed foods.
8) Trans fat is the devil.
9) Protein helps you build muscle, which makes fat loss easier.
10) Your current diet is why you feel like shit; try this new approach and feel better.
The health community is rife with controversy, but I don’t think you can find a reputable dietitian who would disagree with any of the previous statements. They certainly might prioritize different things—half may tell you that meat is slowing killing you, while the other half will tell you that you’ll be a hairless, boney elf without it. Yet we can find solace in the fact that Harvard recently changed the food pyramid to a far more healthy plate:
The bottom line is that when it comes to nutrition information, don’t look to commercials or the FDA. Look at the strategies that work, that are sustainable, and that don’t lead to you spending an inordinate amount of money. It sucks that the mainstream news is less than helpful in reporting the facts, but now we are also so inundated with information on social media that it’s hard to know who to trust. So trust those 10 steps, they won’t steer you wrong.
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