Nutrition 101 Series – #1

What’s Out There

If you want to feel healthier, and essentially perform better, simply cutting out “bad” foods and eating healthy ones will do that. I think most adults can distinguish between the “bad” and the healthy. It really is that simple. However, there are other factors that make this easier said than done.

The first thing we need to be aware of is what is out there. We need to be aware of what is being “fed” to our brains, as well as our belly. By knowing, or identifying potential factors, we can gain control of our power and ability to make the best choices for ourselves.

The Diet & Supplement Industrydiet product

Like politics, the diet and supplement industry is designed to be confusing. Common sense would call it misleading. The focus is simply to appeal to the emotional side of certain people, and convince them that their product is needed. Any time you can reach someone on an emotional level and appeal to them, logic, or the desire to challenge, is often thrown out. Health and appearance are highly desired in our culture, and that allows for an easy emotional connection, as well as a multi-billion dollar industry. Fear, urgency, and “guaranteed” quick results are common marketing and advertising tactics that appeal to consumers who in turn make impulsive and emotional purchases.

Many over-the-counter products are classified as food rather than drugs, meaning less regulation by the FDA and thus more readily available to consumers. Backed by self proclaimed studies, unidentified ingredients called proprietary blend, and tricky advertising, consumers are easy targets to buy the hype that is being sold.

Half of Americans use dietary supplements on a daily basis to improve their health.  According to the FDA, there are more than 29,000 different nutritional supplements on the market today. That’s a lot of different products, and I’m sure a lot of different claims. How much time do you haLose-10-pounds-in-10-daysve in your busy life to sift through what is truthful, and what is not? Exactly, and they know it. And if you think they have your sole interest at heart, the FTC has challenged deceptive advertising for health care products with more than $1 billion in sales — mostly for dietary supplements.

* I am not against using supplements entirely. See the article on supplementation

There are a ridiculous amount of “fad “diets” out there—all claiming to be the best with attempts to appeal to the consumer emotionally. These diets mostly consist of restricting calories, eventually leading to the yo-yo effect. We all respond differently. It is misleading to propose a diet making claims that it is the best or that it will scientifically produce x and y results. Individually we need to be experimental and honest with ourselves in order to find what works best. Just buying into someone else’s “diet” that worked for them is wishful thinking.

Thirty billion dollars is spent each year on diet products and weight loss programs. That is 2.5 times what Americans spend on fitness and health. That’s a lot of money to market products.  People are not addressing the root, or cause, of their real problem. Instead, they are buying into the hype or fad, treating the symptom and masking the cause.

The Food Industry

coke budgetWe have become a society that is psychologically and physically addicted to the consumption of food. Food is everywhere in our culture: billboards, commercials, print media,  fast food restaurants, and grocery stores. They are everywhere. The average American child sees 10,000 food advertisements per year on television. 95% of those are for sugar cereals, soft drinks, fast foods, or candy.

The modern supermarket now has, on average, 47,000 products, the majority of which is being produced by only a handful of food companies. These food companies use slick advertising to confuse consumers into what they are eating. There are more than 50 different words that essentially mean sugar.

Companies like McDonald’s and Pepsi Cola spend billions worldwide every year on direct media advertising. Compare that to the total advertising budget of all of 2 million dollars for the “5 a Day Fruit & Vegetable Campaign.” As an obese and unhealthy society, we face an uphill battle.

Why Do We Eat?

As a whole, we eat way more than we need to. We eat when we are not hungry, and we eat for the wrong reasons. Far more serious than just how much we eat, is how much of what we eat. Much of processed and fast food contains excess sugar, fat, and salt, which can trick us into overeating.

5 a day campaign 2 David Kessler, MD, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says in his book The End of Overeating that food companies prey on our biological addictions in the same way tobacco companies have exploited the addictive properties of nicotine. Specifically he states, “modern day foods continue to prey on our biological need for sugar, fat, and salt, flooding our brains with pleasure but our bellies with empty, unsatisfying calories that only leave us wanting more.”

Neal Barnard, MD, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, in a study of food addiction claimed there was a drug effect from the food within the brain. The food actually affects the mood and can be addicting, not the taste.

So what about our government and regulations?

Billion dollar industries are going to protect themselves, and they have some influential members hanging around Washington. According to Marion Nestle, PhD- Chair of Nutrition & Food Studies: “High paid lobbyists are in Washington for 2 purposes. One, to make sure no government agency every says eat less (of the company’s product). And two, to make sure the government never passes legislation that is unfavorable, instead passes legislation that is favorable.”

End of story there—although it is a nice campaign slogan. See below.

Nearly 100 million Americans today are either overweight, or obese. The total number of overweight Americans has doubled since 1980. Obesity is now second to only smoking as the major cause of preventable deaths in America. If current trends continue, 1 out of every 3 children born in the year 2000, will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Something is not right, and this is unacceptable.

In Summary…

We cannot just accept what passes as information when it is comes to the diet and supplement industry. Again, it is a multi billion dollar industry which utilizes sharp advertising and aggressive marketing to an emotional audience. It can prevent us from addressing the real problem.

The food industry is backed by big dollars and high powered lobbyists. Armed with massive marketing and effective advertising, they dominate when it comes to getting out their message. Disguised as proponents for educating people about health risks, they will frankly do whatever they have to in order to continue that message. Sugar, salt, and fat are purposely added to the contents of food to appeal to the addictive behavior of its consumers. This makes them repeated and large quantity customers—for life.knowledge

I’m not looking for these industries, or the government, to do what I feel is the right thing. They are going to do what they are going to do. As a community, we need to educate ourselves on what is being “fed” to us by powerful and influential industries. We need to look out for our best interest, as opposed to believing they have our best interest. Billions of dollars of marketing and advertising are all around us and our kids, and it is  not going anywhere. The first step to gaining the power to make our decisions,  is knowing and understanding what is being “fed” to us out there.

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Nutrition 101 Series

1  What's Out There?
2  Fast Food Industry
3  Hormones & Energy Levels
4  What Not to Eat
5  What to Eat

6  Important Points
7  Optimal Eating Blueprint
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Supplement Series

1  To Take or Not to Take
2  Best Supplements for Athletic Performance
3  My Supplement Recommendations
4  Supplement Products That I Use and Recommend

Nutrient Timing for Optimal Performance
Post-Workout Supplementation