Friday, April 30, 2010

A Bizarre Food Month

Since I’ve become a RD I don’t know if I’ve seen a stranger month with regards to bizarre food trends. It seems like we take one step forward and two steps back.

First, KFC decides to release the Double Down! A bacon and cheese sandwich with two fried chicken breasts instead of buns. It says it has only 500 calories but when I added the ingredients up using Sparkpeople, I got something closer to 740 calories.

Next, I see that Mead-Johnson has released chocolate flavored toddler formula.

Then I receive the mother of all propaganda on the "Benefits of Cereal" from General Mills. My favorite part is on page six where they compare Trix to Cheerios. They argue that both are good, healthy breakfast choices. They write, “From a calorie and nutrient standpoint, are both products a good breakfast choice? Yes, they are.”

News comes in that Santa Clara county has banned toys from kids meals if they have more than 485 calories, 600 mg of sodium or high amounts of sugar and salt.

Also this week, 16 companies agreed to begin reducing their salt intake by 25% over the next five years.

Finally, IHOP announced their new menu item, pancake stackers. This “sandwich” is two pancakes with a layer of cheesecake in the middle.

Such a random group of news bites about food. To me it shows the disconnect in most peoples thinking. We want to be healthy with balanced diets, but we love the absurd (like the double down or pancake stackers), but then we are disgusted about what it does to our waistline.

There are those that argue, the government has no business making laws that limit our food choices. But the problem is, we are not choosing what is best for us. We continue to choose high fat, high sugar and high salt foods and then wonder why nearly 68% of the population is either overweight or obese. At some point, enough is enough! The only reason that companies are starting to reduce salt intake is because of government initiatives by Mayor Bloomberg, for example, and recent reports from theIOH that say, they only way we will reduce the intake of sodium is through government regulation.

What ever you believe, this month has certainly given us food for thought!

The End of Overeating

I recently finished The End of Overeating by David Kessler, MD. This book has changed the way I think about food and overeating. Dr. Kessler does a fantastic job of highlighting the complex chemical reaction that occurs in our brain when we eat foods that have salt, fat and sugar. Not only does he use research studies but the personal stories from real-life people drive home how eating can take control of us.

Dr. Kessler goes on to write about how the food industry, especially food scientists, manipulate food to hit our “bliss point.” They purposefully create foods that drive us to crave more of similar types of foods. They are making food with sugar, fat and salt to make us eat more sugar, fat and salt. The result of this type of diet is literally growing all around us. Rates of obesity continue to rise and unless we change how we think about food, there may be no end in sight.

Finally, Dr. Kessler talks about “food rehab” and how we break this cycle. It is the first time that I’ve read a book, written by a doctor, that says everything that would make a dietitian proud. He emphasizes eating balanced meals that have lean protein and high fiber foods that help satisfy our hunger. He also talks about creating structure in our eating patterns to prevent us from making unconscious decisions about food.

Take the time to read this book. It will open your eyes to how our brains are affected by our high fat, sugar and salt diets. It made me realize that changing eating habits is not about will power, it’s about understanding how food can control our decisions the same way cocaine does for drug addicts. This is a must read for anyone struggling with overeating.