Diet Trick or Treat?
Weight loss wonders and nutrition nightmares
It bursts my balloon whenever I read bogus ads for "miracle" weight
loss drugs or watch a commercial promoting the latest high-calorie, high-fat
You'd have to be living under a rock not to know that our nation is fighting
an obesity epidemic. To the credit of many food manufacturers and restaurants,
we're seeing more and more healthful changes on packages and menus. But there
are also lots of companies trying to take advantage of overweight people who
want a quick fix.
We'd all love to be able to lose weight simply by swallowing a pill or
slathering on a cream. But if it were so easy, why would there be an obesity
epidemic in the first place?
Of course, it's just not that simple. The only thing simple about weight
loss is the math: Calories taken in vs. calories burned = weight gain, weight
loss, or weight maintenance.
Over-the-counter pills, potions, and "miracle" cures are, at best, a
Band-Aid approach to a very serious problem. At worst, they're just a way to
separate you from your money.
Nearly every magazine has at least one ad for a magical weight loss potion,
promising to help you lose weight while you sleep or detoxify your body and get
trim. The ads lure us with powerful testimonials from supposedly successful
losers, even celebrities.
But remember that money, not ethics, rules this business. If something
sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Here are a few of the nutritional nightmares I've spotted lately:
- A limited-time-only fast-food sandwich with double bacon, double cheese,
and double burger -- otherwise known as a heart attack on a plate. Stick to the
grilled chicken sandwich.
- Low-carb wraps that are indeed low in carbs, but how about the 450 calories
and 25 grams of fat?
- A chicken pot pie that looks like a single serving, but its label
information is for two servings. This becomes a problem after you eat the whole
thing and ingest 1,140 calories and 32 grams of fat -- gulp! Read the labels
before you purchase.
- Claims that you can cure your wrinkles by avoiding foods with a high
glycemic index, such as carrots. They can't be serious! If it were so easy,
there'd be no such thing as a Botox party. Don't let anyone discourage you from
eating super-nutritious vegetables like carrots.
- The notion that you can't lose weight because your body is full of toxins,
and a pill will solve all your problems. As long as your kidneys work and you
drink plenty of fluids, toxic substances are not lurking in your body. Even if
they were, they have nothing to do with weight management.
- Diet pills that are supposed to rev up your metabolism and allow you to
lose weight while you sleep. You know you must be dreaming; the only way to
boost your metabolism is with exercise that increases your muscle mass.
- Carb-controlled vitamins whose manufacturers are trying to cash in on the
carbohydrate phobia that has swept the nation. Vitamin supplements cannot
replace carbs. And your basic daily multivitamin is all you need for good