The secret to living longer and healthier: Stop being manipulated.
Here’s what the big food and drink companies don’t want you to know.
Generations of Americans have been puppets when it comes to their food and health choices. The manipulation is infuriating and insidious. Once you know, you can’t ‘unknow’ this crucial information. You will have the power to obstruct the puppeteers and profiteers. Come along on the Power of One journey with us. Learn how to take back your health, stop counting calories, and why you should stop reading labels.
Take back your health.
Unhealthy convenient foods have been part of the American diet for over 100 years. For decades upon decades, big food and drink companies have demonstrated a calculated effort to produce products as cheaply as possible using ingredients and formulations that manipulate us to overconsume. Did you know that only ten companies control almost every large food and beverage brand in the world? The largest, Nestle, controls over 2,000 brand names.
The evidence of this designed consumer manipulation is undeniable. We have been captivated. We have been managed. We succumbed. We relinquished control. It’s time to reveal this scam for what it is. I am not suggesting an evil conspiracy. Instead, it’s about profit – obscene profit. The profit is far more important to corporations than our nation’s health. It’s about the fact that some of our most well-known companies deny their culpability in creating the tragic health crisis in our country today. It’s heart-breaking. It’s social irresponsibility.
I care. And I know you care, too. The stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s about our healthspan and those of our children. It’s the sustainability of our medical system – already overburdened by the fact that we are eating ourselves to death. We are coerced by big food/big drink to consume products that destroy our wellbeing. It is time to take back our health and the health of our families. It is our responsibility, our concern, our obligation, and our duty.
My readers understand that their personal research is essential and ongoing. I continue to highlight elite athletes who unrelentingly educate themselves on how to improve their performance and healthspan. They are no longer easily manipulated by big food/big drink companies. Athletes are inherently healthier than the average American because they do their homework. They are food and drink savvy. And they’re probably more disciplined than the average person. We can emulate their prudence.
Let’s start by dispelling a couple of myths before beginning our Power of One journey: calories and labels.
Stop Counting Calories
Calories in the foods we eat provide energy in the form of heat so that our bodies can function. We need to eat a certain number of calories to sustain life. How your body burns calories depends on several factors, including the type of food you eat, your body’s metabolism, and even the type of organisms living in your gut. Calorie count alone does not dictate whether a food is nutritious. Counting calories to attain a healthy weight is misleading and misguided. This idea of ‘a calorie in and a calorie out’ regarding weight loss is antiquated and just wrong. Research has proven this.
All calories are not created equal. Processed foods, sugar, refined flours, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients are calories that will not provide your body with good nutrition. Processed foods damage our bodies. Processed foods, particularly refined sugar, can damage cells and cause inflammation. Further, they wreak havoc on the hormones that control weight loss, weight gain, fat metabolism, mood, and hunger.
Consider that one liter of Coca-Cola has 372 calories. One piece of salmon has 412. And one avocado has 234. Only one of these is going to make you fat. Counting calories has never worked and never will. Frankly, with all the advances in modern medicine and science, I’m puzzled that calorie counting still has such a strong hold on our culture. Did you know that according to the FDA, food companies can be off by as much as 20%-50% about the number of calories listed on their nutrition labels? With that level of inaccuracy, why would you bother counting? And worse, FDA hasn’t consistently done random food sampling to check the accuracy of nutrition labels since the 1990s. More about label reading in the next section.
Time to take back your health. Calorie counting is not sustainable. And it’s not accurate. Almost every packaged food today features calorie counts on its label. Most of these counts are inaccurate because they are based on a system of averages that ignores the complexity of digestion. It’s outdated and inefficient. Intuitively, we all know this. Broccoli is a carb, and cotton candy is a carb. But 500 calories of each have different effects on our body. For wellbeing, it’s the quality of the calories you’re eating that matter.
Consider these facts. Did you know that calories from processed foods…
- will make you fat and rob you of your energy
- are formulated to remove satiety signals so you will gorge yourself
- turn on your fat storage switch
- erode a healthy gut microbiome
- increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy triglyceride levels, and unbalanced hormones
All this is from eating certain calories that affect your body in harmful ways. Your skin, eyes, hair, and mental clarity are all impacted. You are what you eat and drink.
But wait, there’s more. A calorie-restricted diet will slow down metabolism. This is the body’s way of conserving energy due to calorie deficit. A slower metabolism will make it harder to lose weight. Additionally, calorie restriction is a stressor to the body. The stress hormone cortisol makes glucose. If cortisol levels are chronically elevated, more sugar builds up in the bloodstream and causes higher insulin levels. This can lead to insulin resistance and leptin resistance. Suffice it to say that calorie cutting can translate to increased appetite, weight gain, and inflammation.
And, oh, by the way, the big food/drink companies are keenly aware of these facts and exploit them for profit. Need more proof? Keeping reading.
Stop reading labels
Next time you go to the grocery store, observe how people wander up and down the aisles like food zombies – drawn in by packaging, advertising, claims of taste, convenience, the all-too-frequent misleading declarations of “healthy,” and the pester power of kids. Sadly, these people are puppets carefully and ingeniously controlled by big food/big drink. Infrequently, you may see folks reading the ingredient labels trying to comprehend the complexities presented there. That scenario may be even sadder. These folks are trying to do their research and are concerned about what’s in a product. And, yet they are lulled into the ‘safety’ of information.
I know this sounds counterintuitive. First, I suggest we completely ignore the front of the packages. The advertising words on food packages may have definitions controlled by the government, but most do not have legal definitions. In addition, most packaging claims are ‘self-made’ by the company merely for marketing purposes, and the accuracy of the claims is not verified.
We all have a right to know what’s in our food, how it’s produced, and where it’s from. But food companies are not required to give us the information we want to know. So, I’m going a step further: Don’t even bother reading the nutritional panel or the small print ingredient list. Wait, coach, you mean you don’t want us to research and read that important nutritional stuff? Unfortunately, these nutritional ‘facts’ are confusing, if not downright fraudulent. Remember the lax margin of error that food companies operate within. The label could be inaccurate and still comply with the stated law. The FDA has never established a systematic, random label-auditing process, and compliance with the law is expected to be self-enforced by food manufacturers. Really?
Big food companies have highly paid ‘scientists’ and marketers who make money for their companies exceptionally well. Let me suggest a better way. Decide to forego those nutritional/ingredient labels altogether – front, back and sides of packages. If it has a list of ingredients, it’s probably not good for you. So stop reading those long lists and stop buying those products. At the very least, stop bringing them into your home as staples.
Coach’s sidebar: When you see the words “all-natural,” beware. It may not mean what you think it should. Many good-intended parents buy fruit juice for their kids as a ‘healthy’ alternative to soda. Juice boxes state “100% all-natural”, “no artificial ingredients.” Packaged apple juice is a deceptive offender. It is likely high in sugar, encourages tooth decay, and is low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Non-organic juice is also commonly contaminated with pesticides. Instead, choose an apple. It contains fiber and phytonutrients. The sugar in juice gets into the bloodstream much faster. (Do you notice changes in your child like hyperactivity, poor focus and even sleep issues after juice?) The fiber in the apple slows digestion down, making it easier for the body to handle the sugar in the apple. If your child needs a drink, choose water. Avoid sugar as if their life depends upon it because it does!
The Power of One
I challenge you with an experiment. It’s a 30-day challenge, and it’s simple. Only buy and consume foods and drinks that have one ingredient. Only one ingredient. Not two, and not a list. Put an avocado in your grocery cart. It doesn’t even need a list of ingredients – it’s an avocado. Chicken. Broccoli. Cabbage. Salmon. Spinach. Kale. Parsnips. You get the idea. For 30 days, eat all you want as long as your foods have only one ingredient. Don’t go hungry. Don’t count calories. Don’t read labels. Simply eat real food.
Vary your items and try new things – each with only one ingredient. If you can, choose organic. Acceptable packed items would be frozen vegetables or frozen fruit – only one ingredient. In fact, organic frozen veggies and fruits picked fully ripe, and flash-frozen are great for you. This freezing method allows the food to retain its nutrients better because it retains its cellular integrity.
Coach’s tip: Stay out of the center aisles of the grocery store. Will yourself not to go there. Stay on the outer perimeter. Make a game of comparing your cart to others’. It’s eye-opening.
Taking this Power of One challenge will hone your ‘real food’ choices. I think you’ll enjoy this. And, as you do, you become the recipient of the greatest gift that you will ever receive—a longer, healthier life.
It begins and ends with you, one person. You are the Power of One. Live it. Be it. Become the change you want for yourself, your family and future generations. It starts with one. Commit. Unplug from the big food/big drink matrix. Create your path that leads to a healthier place.
Thank you in advance for joining us on the Power of One journey. You now have the power to obstruct the puppeteers and profiteers. I love providing you with these truths. I take my teaching moments very seriously, and the overwhelming encouragement of my readers uplifts me. As you get started on your journey, you can propel this Body Helix project forward by passing the Power of One challenge along to your friends, family, colleagues, and associates. If we are going to improve our country’s collective health, we need to come together with one voice. We have the power – the buying power – to force change. Once you know the companies that are not committed to your health, you know which ones to avoid. Remember, there’s a handful of mega-enterprises that own the majority of all packaged foods and drinks. Spread the Power of One.
Watch for next week’s blog. I plan to give shout-outs to a few fabulous companies whose packaged foods (with more than one ingredient) are trusted salutogenic options. These kinds of companies do exist, yet they’re rare. I love supporting them. With our help, these companies will become the norm rather than the exception.
Learn, Share, Inspire.