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    A Very Gimmicky View

    425.the.view.081208The View is no stranger to”did they really just say that?” moments (remember Sherri Shepherd’s claim that not only she did not know whether the Earth was round or flat but had no time to find out because she was too busy raising her  children?).

    This past Friday, what could have been your typical weight-loss-in-the-coming-year segment made my jaw hit the floor and my eyebrows catapult to the ceiling.

    Rather than bring on an expert (imagine that — someone who knows what they’re talking about!) to discuss three or four often-overlooked healthy changes that could make a real difference in people’s lives, producers thought it would be better to instead expose millions of viewers to five gimmicky diet plans that only further confuse the public.

    Oh-so-coincidentally, View co-host Whoopi Goldberg is on one of them right now.

    The first recommended diet?  None other than Dr. Segal’s Cookie Diet, which consists of “eating low-calorie cookies and one healthy meal a day.”

    Really, producers of The View?  That is what you consider groundbreaking and news worthy?  A diet plan that first made the rounds approximately five years ago?

    Despite the frothy advertising, there is no secret here.  This nonsense is nothing else than extreme caloric restriction that fools people into thinking they are being indulgent because they get to munch on a a few cookies a day.

    I’m surprised no one has come up with the “Ben & Jerry’s Diet” yet.  You know — eat nothing but a tablespoon of Ben & Jerry’s every three hours and a sensible dinner, and you’ll be at your goal weight in no time!

    Up next — Melissa Bowman Li’s Physio Cleanse, which Whoopi Goldberg is currently on and raving about.

    I was very surprised to learn Ms. Bowman Li is a Registered Dietitian, because the program relies on distracting gimmicks.

    For example — you start off with a 28 day “cleanse”, in which alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, and dairy are off-limits.

    News flash: it is completely possible to avoid that entire list and still overeat, just like it is possible to eat all those items and lose weight.

    Even more annoyingly, Bowman Li claims this particular diet helps the body “eliminate toxins through the lungs, skin, kidneys, and bowels.”

    Perhaps Ms. Bowman Li has forgotten basic human physiology — the human body does that on its own.  A cup of coffee and a bowl of Greek yogurt are not toxin-releasing roadblocks.

    Once again, the real “secret” here is a meal plan high in whole foods and fiber and low in processed foods.  The removal of caffeine and dairy is irrelevant.

    The Perfect 10 Diet and the 7-Day Energy Surge were also featured, but are so vague and general in their descriptions that they aren’t even worth discussing.  Both employ your usual terminology of “key hormones”, “feel at your peak” and promises of “jumpstarting weight-loss” and “reducing stress” “in minutes.”

    By the way, why do so many diet books contain numbers in their titles?  Is it solely to make you feel like a complete loser if it takes you nine days to get that “energy surge” (oh, how awful!)?

    The absolute worst of this lot, however, is Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Diet, which is nothing more than Atkins revisited (again!).

    According to Cruise, his plan allows you to “lose troublesome belly fat without counting calories or going to the gym.”  A couch potato’s dream — and such a hokey late-night infomercial pitch!

    Like Atkins, Gary Taubes, and countless others, Cruise claims “belly fat” is all about “keeping insulin low by limiting carbohydrates and sugar.”

    This, says Cruise, is much more effective than simply eating less and exercising more.  In fact, Cruise considers calories absolutely irrelevant.

    Despite claims that you will not eat less on this plan, this “groundbreaking” diet is also about limiting your calories.

    For example, one popular tactic provided by Cruise is to ditch the hamburger bun and wrap your burger in a lettuce leaf.

    Yes, certainly a lower-carb option, but also one that decreases calorie content by anywhere from 200 to 300 calories!

    Oh, but, no, Cruise says “carbohydrate [content is] the only number you need to know”.

    Of course, there are plenty of head-scratching tips.  While Cruise shuns dairy products and whole fruits because of their naturally-occurring sugars, he finds it perfectly okay for people on his plan to eat French fries and dip them in ketchup.  Huh?

    There’s also a pulled-out-of-who-knows-where concept of “carb servings”.  According to Cruise, a “carb serving” consists of anywhere from 5 to 20 grams of carbohydrates.  THAT is how you determine whether a meal is “belly good” or “belly bad” — by the number of “carb servings”.

    As a result of all this carbphobia, Cruise would much rather you drink a Diet Snapple (artificially-colored water spiked with artificial sweeteners) than an iced low-fat latte.

    It is a true shame that The View decided to devote camera time to these baseless diets that rely on gimmicks and hype, rather than factual information that can actually — gasp — help people lead healthier lives!

    Many thanks to New York City Registered Dietitian Elisa Zied for making me aware of this TV segment via Twitter.

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    8 Comments

    1. Jessie said on December 20th, 2009

      I cannot believe people actually come up with this stuff! What are they thinking?!?!?

      I compeletly agree with you, as long as you have a well balanced diet of mostly whole and nutritious foods, exercise regularly and stay active you will have no problems.

      Fad diets never work and DO NOT give you the nutrients you need. It should be about being HEALTHY not THIN.

    2. Leigh said on December 20th, 2009

      Ugh. I hate this. I hate that people believe in this. I try and recommend Michael Pollan’s books to anyone who’s trying to lose weight, simply for the basic principles of eating right. I have been trying hard in the past couple years to live by what I call the Michael Pollan Rule: Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Now I know this isn’t HIS rule but I really absorbed it when it was phrased so simply and wonderfully. People like the ones on the View make me so mad–and don’t even get me started on people who, simply because they have half an iota of celebrity, are all of a sudden experts on nutrition. I can imagine how frustrating that must make you feel as a REAL nutritionist. I suppose the best I can do is keep fighting the good fight and telling people to eat REAL food. :)

    3. Amber said on December 21st, 2009

      Hi, love your site! but just a few notes on the diets. I am currently doing the Belly Fat Cure with Jorge and its actually a lot healthier than the segment showed, but that is his fault. There are no artificial sweeteners allowed AT ALL on the plan. Dont know where you got Diet Snapple from? And no ketchup either. It is a low sugar plan that allows 15grams of sugar a day and up to 120grams of carbs (divided into those servings you talked about ;-) ) He really pushes healthy living and lots of greens veggies. Remember, sometimes it isnt so simple for obese people with obsessive/compulsive eating habits just eat not as much!

      Not totally sure you watched the segment, because that isnt the order they were on either… but that doesnt really matter. I appreciate your points and totally do get what you mean! Have a great day!

    4. Sally said on December 21st, 2009

      I was stunned as well, especially by Jorge Cruise telling the audience to eat a bacon-cheeseburger wrap instead of nuts, apple slices and a latte because those things are “full of sugar”. As if!

    5. Andy Bellatti said on December 21st, 2009

      Amber,

      The Diet Snapple and ketchup are recommended by Jorge himself in a 10-minute video on his homepage. In that particular video, he goes to different fast food chain restaurants and shows examples of “belly good” and “belly bad” foods. A small order of fries and ketchup is part of a “belly good” meal at McDonald’s, while the Diet Snapple is recommended as a beverage at KFC.

    6. Christine said on December 22nd, 2009

      “By the way, why do so many diet books contain numbers in their titles?”

      Because they sell — people are drawn to pithy numeric headlines. That’s why magazines always have “number” headlines, too….12 ways to shape your thighs…16 new things you must have….6 steps to a new you…

    7. Amber said on December 23rd, 2009

      No artificial sweeteners are allowed on the Belly Fat Cure. That was a Lipton Brisk Iced Tea he had from KFC. I rewatched the segment, and saw that mention of a ketchup…. all I can say is that his coaching says that is a no-no. Thanks for the follow up! Im working toward healthier eating and his plan truly is helping by eliminating all the sugar and artificial sweeteners. Some times it takes a gimmick to get peoples attention, sadly!

    8. Andy Bellatti said on December 23rd, 2009

      Why would Jorge Cruise choose a Lipton Brisk Iced Tea with his KFC meal, though? That’s pure sugar water! It makes no sense, particularly since he considers fruit and dairy to be “belly bad” because of their naturally-occurring sugars. If he considers a Lipton Brisk Iced Tea to be “belly good”, then why does he rage against sugar??

      Also, if his coaching says that ketchup is a “no-no”, why does he then say it is A-ok to have it (along with French fries) on his diet plan?

      Those two contradictions don’t make him sound very professional.

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