Though most of us eat diet foods because we want to feel good about eating right, there’s a dark secret the diet industry doesn’t really want you to know about most of the products they manufacture and sell to you. Most of us know that a 500-calorie white caramel mocha isn’t going to help us stay fit and healthy, but just cutting calories isn’t exactly the secret to enduring health and verve, either.
The SnackWell Syndrome
First of all, diet food may cause us to overeat. The Snackwell syndrome was named for the tendency or people to eat more food than they might have otherwise consumed when eating “low-fat” or diet foods.
We have been programmed by the fast-food and convenience food industries to anticipate high-calorie, sugary snacks as a reward. Diet versions of these foods can leave us feeling unsatisfied, and since we can argue that they are “low-calorie,” we tend to eat more of them, trying to feel satiated. We initially trick our brains into eating less calories, but the body knows what’s up and will secrete hormones that make us crave real food (and more calories) again later.
Additionally, certain kinds of fats are needed by the body. There are some nutrients that are ‘fat soluble,’ meaning those nutrients need fat to be absorbed properly by our bodies (vitamin A, D, E and K to name four). If we don’t eat fat, in an attempt to maintain a “low-fat” diet, we simply crave more food as the body is hoping it will get some of the healthy fats it needs to help absorb the nutrients it craves.
Diet Foods Contain High Levels of Artificial Flavorings, Colorings and Preservatives (Chemicals)
In nature, color equals nutrient density. You can see this in the yolks of eggs that have been fed barley and other healthy grains. They turn a bright yellow, in comparison to chickens fed genetically modified (GM) soy and corn grain.
Conversely, in processed foods, artificial flavors and colors are a way to put flavor into a food that would otherwise taste bland and unsatisfying. Most of the flavorings and colors used in processed foods today, including a host of diet and “low fat” foods, are unhealthy.
Not only do we want our food to taste good, we want it to look good. As a result, food producers use a combination of 14,000 laboratory-made additives to make our food appear fresher, more attractive or last longer on the shelf.
Sadly, you can even find these chemical additives in “health” foods, so you have to be vigilant about reading labels and talking to your grocery store’s management about what they do to your food. For example,
- ASPARTAME is a chemical sugar substitute that has been linked to cancer and birth defects. It is sold commercially as Equal and NutraSweet. Unfortunately, one out of 20,000 babies is born without the ability to metabolize phenylalanine, one of the two amino acids in this chemical creation.
- ASTAXANTHIN is a chemical used in 90 percent of farm-raised salmon. In the wild, salmon gets its pink skin from eating crustaceans, but this food isn’t available to them when they are farm raised. As a result, astaxanthin is added to the diets of farm-raised salmon so that their flesh will appear ‘tasty’ to unsuspecting shoppers. This chemical is manufactured from coal tar.
- PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS are used in many processed and diet foods. Partially hydrogenated oils are unhealthy, highly processed fats that can cause metabolic syndrome. Omega-3 fatty acids that are in foods like avocados and hemp seeds are actually very good for you, and naturally support a healthy weight.
- 1000s OF ARTIFICIAL COLORS, PRESERVATIVES, SUGARS, AND FLAVORS – There are literally thousands more, unhealthy, often carcinogenic chemicals added to diet and convenience foods. Low-fat microwave popcorn, for example, often contains MSG or monosodium glutamate; “light” salad dressing is often filled with preservatives and colors you can’t even name and flavored, “fat-free” yogurt can contain as much as 15 grams of sugar per serving. You may as well eat a candy bar!
Diet Foods ‘Train’ You to Eat Unhealthy Food
So called “low-fat” diet foods, which mimic unhealthy, full-fat versions, can also cause us to “learn” how to eat poorly. Instead of eating leafy greens like kale and collards, whole grains like quinoa and amaranth, healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes or a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes and sprouts – which is the REAL diet food supplied by Mother Nature - we get hooked on the processed, “low-fat,” “low-calorie” knock offs that don’t truly support our metabolic process, healthy digestion and good gut-brain signals that tell us to stop eating when we are full.
The problem with diet food is that though it may be lower calorie than your morning mocha, it isn’t providing you with the nutrients that you need, and is often filling your body with toxic chemicals which it will then have to work very hard to get rid of. This can make you tired and sick, and therefore less inspired to be active, contributing further to your decline in health.
For true weight management, overflowing energy, vibrant skin and hair and an incredibly happy mood to be sustained, you should ditch the packaged, processed diet foods and choose whole foods instead. When your body gets the nutrients it needs from healthier food choices, great supplementation and consistent exercise, you simply can’t be overweight.