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    Archive for the ‘Shame On You’ Category

    Shame On You/Say What?: Intruder Alert!

    A reader by the name of Rachelle recently left a comment on this blog notifying me about author John Gray’s foray into nutrition.

    If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Mr. Gray is the author of the “let’s make cultural norms seem like biological qualities” pop-psychology book Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus.

    Despite a lack of nutrition credentials, Mr. Gray now considers himself knowledgeable enough to dole out nutrition advice. Oh, joy.

    Perhaps it is the “PhD” after his name that gave him this confidence, although that credential has been severely questioned.

    In any case, Mr. Gray offers nutritional cleanses retreats (red flag, anyone?) and hawks — are you ready for it? — Mars & Venus shakes.

    According to Mr. Gray, these shakes offer the “ideal balance of nutrients” for men and women. Don’t you love vague pseudo-science catch phrases?

    You do? Great, because here’s another one: “the shakes are designed to assist the brain in functioning in a more balanced and harmonious manner.”

    Mr. Gray also claims these shakes get you to your ideal weight. If you need to lose, you will lose. If you need to gain weight, you will gain. I would love to see the randomized double-blind control trials that confirm this (because I’m so sure he conducted them.)

    Despite having the exact same ingredients in different amounts, Mr. Gray claims the Mars shake produces more dopamine in the brain, while the Venus shake produces more serotonin.

    Huh? Both shakes contain a protein powder. Protein-rich foods cause a surge of dopamine. So, how then, does the Venus shake differ?

    If you’re looking to lose weight, Mr. Gray has you covered!

    All you have to do is buy his shake powder (of course!) and have it as your breakfast and dinner.

    For lunch, you can eat a salad “with as many raw vegetables and avocado as you wish” as well as some form of protein, all topped with olive oil and either lemon juice or vinegar.

    Although Mr. Gray claims the “effortless weight loss” (15 pounds a week, he claims!) is due to the magic ingredients in his shake, it’s clear that the “magic” is simple caloric deprivation.

    How can you NOT lose weight if your only solid meal of the day is a salad and your other two meals each consist of one scoop of powder and eight ounces of water?

    Despite all the fantastic claims, the small print at the bottom of his website reads “John Gray’s Mars & Venus LLC does NOT guarantee weight loss.”

    Hmmmm… interesting how he never mentions that in his breathless infomercials where he mentions how “life changing” his shakes have been!

    Now we come to my favorite part — the head-scratching nutrition-related statements:

    * The weight loss cleanse prohibits the intake of any dairy, yet the shakes — which are a significant part of the cleanse — contain whey protein!

    Newsflash, Mr. Gray, whey protein is a dairy protein!

    * Mr. Gray on Omega-3’s: “A couple of tablespoons of flaxseed [have as many Omega-3’s] as a meal of salmon.”

    Firstly, how big is a “meal of salmon”?

    Additionally, can you say “back to Nutrition 101 for you”? The Omega 3’s in flaxseed consist of alpha linolenic acid, whereas salmon offers Docosahexaonoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

    It is not an equal comparison!

    * Mr. Gray hates soy, mainly due to its phytate content, which blocks mineral absorption.

    Had he bothered to research the topic, he would have realized that although phytates interfere with the absorption of some minerals, they also offer a variety of well-documented health benefits.

    Tannins in coffee and tea interfere with iron absorption, but that doesn’t mean coffee and tea are “bad” beverages.

    * Mr. Gray refers to a food that contains a certain amount of cholesterol as one that provides “3% of the daily requirement.”

    Wrong again! There is no daily requirement for cholesterol; it is not an essential nutrient. The 300 milligram figure is considered a “limit,” not a requirement.

    * Mr. Gray claims coconut is the only food that contains lauric acid.

    Not so! Goat’s milk, cow’s milk, and palm kernel oil also contain the fatty acid.

    These examples merely scratch the non-sense surface.

    As I said in an earlier post — enough is enough! The last thing anyone needs is more inaccurate nutrition advice from individuals who don’t possess even the most basic knowledge!

    This Earthling is not amused.


    Shame On You: The Results Are In

    I am sure you have all been on pins and needles awaiting the results of Burger King’s Whopper Virgins experiment. Or not.

    Well, the wait is over!

    And wouldn’t you know it — the majority of those “weird third world villagers who have never heard of a burger” prefer the Whopper to rival McDonald’s Big Mac.

    Wondering how the burgers stayed hot and palatable in desolate areas of the world, far from any Burger King?

    Turns out the “expedition team” shuttled villagers to the closest city and had them bite into their first Whopper — in front of a video camera no less — in some sort of warehouse.

    Supposedly, said warehouse had both a Burger King and McDonald’s nearby, ensuring that both chains’ offerings would be in a participant’s mouth no more than 15 minutes after being purchased by the expedition team.

    All this trouble to find out which corn-fed beef patty topped with high-fructose corn syrup ketchup and a single pathetic wilted leaf of lettuce is the more superior one? I don’t get it.

    Burger King chronicles their worldwide journey in this 7 minute, 8 second “cinematic piece”.

    Apart from seeing images of these “researchers” in remote third world areas (including scenes where they cook Burger King hamburgers for a small village in a portable broiler displaying the fast food chain’s logo), we get to hear choice quotes like:

    “[Some of these people] didn’t even know how to pick [a hamburger] up.”

    Oh, wow! How backwards! And the majority of Americans don’t know how to hold chopsticks properly. Your point?

    The team is incredulous when a man practically missing all his teeth chooses to tear off a part of his burger rather than bite into it.

    So incredulous, actually, that they instruct him to take a bite.

    I cringed.

    “You can not get an entirely pure taste from a group of Americans because they have been exposed to so much advertising.”

    Partially true, but this isn’t only a problem in the United States. Fast food and soft drink advertising crosses borders and makes it to some very remote areas.

    Have these people never heard of blind tastings? Simply blindfold your subjects (right here in the USA!), ask them to take a bite of Burger 1, a bite of Burger 2, and tell you which one tastes best to them.

    And for all his “marketing virginity” talk, isn’t “rewarding” those who selected the Whopper as their favorite of the two burgers with their very own Burger King cookout a form of advertising?

    I am still waiting for the press release informing everyone this is a spoof along the lines of Waiting for Guffman or This Is Spinal Tap.


    Looking To Have Your Intelligence Insulted?

    Then please check out Burger King’s latest shameful advertising attempt — The Whopper Virgins.

    Here is one of the television ads, too.

    In an effort to find out whether the Whopper is superior to the Big Mac (does anyone seriously care?), the folks at Burger King have taken to remote villages in third world countries and videotaped people’s first bites into 100% American fast food.

    You know, because the “poor indigenous” people living in “those weird countries over there” don’t know what they’re missing!

    I mean, come on, who wouldn’t go nuts for a Whopper, right?

    Okay, back to reality: this is one of the most pathetic food-related advertising campaigns I have seen in a VERY long time.

    Burger King is actually proud of the fact that they are bringing Whoppers to parts of the world that don’t have a word for “burger.”

    Hmmm… do they have a word for “trans fat”? I hope so, because the Whopper contains 1.5 grams (along with half of the daily maximum recommendations for sodium and saturated fat.)

    I truly don’t know what’s worse — the cultural arrogance, the complete disregard for local culture, or the idea that third world villagers are the equivalent of lab rats.

    Besides, why not target their main demographic by simply asking random adolescent and twenty-something men in the United States to participate in a blind tasting?


    Shame On You: The Blueprint Cleanse

    After receiving favorable publicity in Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and New York Magazine, the New York City based Blueprint Cleanse is increasing in popularity across the United States.

    As you may imagine, I am not a fan.

    Long story short: the founder of The Blueprint Cleanse had “a savage cold” on January 1, 2000, which she recuperated from a week later after following a seven-day juice cleanse.

    Don’t most colds naturally run their course in a week? I digress.

    As happy as she was to have her health back, she thought that particular cleanse was too extreme.

    Well, lucky us — this inspired her to start a nutritional cleanse company “customized to [each client’s] level of nutritional awareness and dietary history.”

    Mix that idea with a cutesy website, trendy advertising, and promises of “normalized weight” and “physical rejuvenation,” and the latest “wellness” nonsense is born.

    Beginners can opt for a 3 day program, while more advanced folks looking to flush their hard-earned dollars down the toilet — oops, I mean, the toxins out of their system — can opt for 5, 7 or 10 day cleanses.

    For $65 a day, the 6 beverages you need to drink each day are delivered to your home or office in the insulated cooler picture at top (as you may notice by looking at that photo, each juice is labeled in suggested order of consumption.)

    Mind you, these are fruit and vegetable blends (as well as one cashew milk drink) that cost no more than $10 a day to make.

    Despite Blueprint’s claim that this is different from other cleanses, we are dealing with the same flawed logic (except this time the intellectual excrement is covered in a glossy shimmer, kind of like an episode of MTV’s The Hills.)

    A few choice examples:

    Can we please finally put to rest the myth that if you don’t eat a lot, you’ll lack energy? Unless one is undergoing a water fast, which, should only be done with a coach, energy levels will skyrocket!

    I suppose. But how about finally putting to rest these inane notions that we need to subsist on nothing but liquefied fruits and vegetables to cleanse our bodies?

    While “we” are at it, can “we” please learn some basic human physiology and realize that the kidneys and pancreas already get rid of “toxins”?

    Disturbingly, The Blueprint Cleanse folks claim it is absolutely possible to exercise while undergoing any of their fasts (3, 5, or 7 days.)

    The energy that is usually spent on digestion is now yours for the taking, so grab it and go for a jog! Remember- you are feeding your cells, not stuffing your belly.

    Newsflash — solids AND liquids go through the digestive system. Just because you are drinking six juices a day does not mean your body takes a break from digestion.

    According to the creators, this cleanse contains nothing but “food that’s packed with enzymes [and] will allow your body to clean.

    Oh, the enzyme argument. Cute. Too bad it’s baseless.

    A three-day Cleanse helps the body rid itself of old built up matter and cleanses the blood. A five-day Cleanse starts the process of rebuilding and healing the immune system. A ten-day Cleanse will take care of problems before they arise and fight off degenerative diseases.

    I would love to know how they came to this conclusion. Not to mention, how exactly does a cleanse “take care of problems before they arise?”

    Am I supposed to believe that, magically, on the tenth day, I have enough power in my immune system to prevent a scratchy throat? If so, for how long?

    Wondering when you should be cleansing? Here it is from the horse’s mouth:

    A good rule of thumb is whenever you experience any of the following: fatigue/general lack of energy, sleeplessness, anxiety/depression, digestive problems, at the first sign of a cold and of course, before and after holidays or any special events that lead to overindulging.

    Yes, because I am sure someone with depression is just itching to give up a hot plate of food and instead subsist on nothing but cold vegetable and fruit juices for a week.

    Okay, okay, I’m being unfair. The Blueprint Cleanse allows you to cheat by sinking your teeth into…. celery sticks.

    You might as well throw two ice cubes onto your plate and have yourself a party!!

    Back to the suggested times of use — I’m very weary of attempting to correct issues of fatigue and lack of energy by going on a liquid diet that barely grazes the 1,000 calorie mark.

    And then there’s the most extreme cleanse – “the excavation cleanse” – which does away with most fruits and instead “focuses on foods that trigger detox and elimination, such as citrus (spicy lemonade), which act as “cleaners” and green vegetable tonics which act as “healers.

    And, clearly, this cleanse goes in the “complete and utter nonsense” category.


    Shame On You: Oscar Mayer Lunch-a-BLEGHs

    On its Oscar Mayer Lunchables page, Kraft Foods states their mission is to create “foods that help provide the fuel and energy needed to tackle whatever it is [your children] happen to dream up that day.”

    A young smiling girl is shown front and center, and Kraft acknowledges that, quelle surprise, “children who eat their lunch do better in school”.

    I truly don’t understand how Oscar Mayer Lunchables fit into this wholesome “we have your child’s best interests at heart” theme, though.

    For example, the Ultimate Nachos (bundled with a Capri Sun drink and some cookies) contain:

    580 calories
    8 grams saturated fat (40 percent of a day’s maximum)
    1290 sodium (that’s half a day’s worth!)
    2 grams of fiber.

    The turkey and American cheese cracker stackers, also bundled with a Capri Sun, add up to:

    350 calories
    6 grams of saturated fat (30 percent of a day’s maximum)

    770 milligrams of sodium

    0 grams of fiber

    The crackers, apart from being made entirely of refined carbohydrates, contain partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.

    Then there’s the deep dish extra-cheesy pizza pack. It comes with crispy M&M’s and a Capri Sun drink (sounds so healthy, doesn’t it?) and provides:

    700 calories
    9 grams of saturated fat (45 percent of a day’s maximum)
    1,240 milligrams of sodium
    4 grams of fiber
    61 grams (15 teaspoons) of added sugar.

    That is on par with wolfing down a Big Mac and medium soda at McDonald’s.

    It’s one thing to have these products on the shelf along with cookies and potato chips, where they are surrounded by other nutritionally empty foods.

    It’s shameful, though, to sell these products and stand behind a message of nutrition, healthy eating, and child welfare.


    Shame On You: Olive Garden, TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and New York City Wendy’s

    Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.

    Many chain restaurants — which have standardized recipes that call for an exact amount of certain ingredients every single time the dish is served — offer nutrition information on their websites.

    No matter how heinous their offerings — think 10 grams of trans fat in a serving of large fries, in some cases — the information is available to potential customers.

    Olive Garden, TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, and New York City Wendy’s restaurants, however, aren’t as forthcoming.

    In Olive Garden’s case, they only list nutrition information for their “Garden Fare” low-fat and low-carb items.

    Even that information is scarce, consisting solely of calories, fat, fiber, and carbohydrates.

    There is no mention of sodium or saturated fat.

    And make sure to read the tiny print at the bottom of the page:

    “Olive Garden has made an effort to provide complete and current nutrition information, but changes in recipes and the hand-crafted nature of our menu items mean that variations from these values can occur from time to time. Therefore, the values shown here should be considered approximations.”

    Nutrition information for their remaining menu items? Nonexistent.

    The only nutrition mention TGI Friday’s makes on their website
    is via a 2007 press release announcing the availability of smaller portions of select menu items, all of which offer less than 500 calories and 10 grams of fat.

    Want to know how many calories are in their standard fried mac and cheese appetizer? Start sharpening your psychic skills, because TGI Friday’s sure isn’t going to tell you.

    Over at Applebee’s, nutrition information is only available for Weight Watchers approved items.

    The others?

    “We do not provide nutritional information on other Applebee’s® items – with approximately 1,900 locations in the U.S. alone there are many different vendors, which makes it extremely difficult to obtain nutritional information for our items.”

    I’m supposed to believe they can’t tell me how many calories their three cheese chicken penne pasta bowl (“mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan cheeses top off a rich mix of penne pasta, Italian-seasoned grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, fresh basil and Alfredo sauce”) provides?

    Ironic, isn’t it, how the main draw of all these restaurants is that no matter where in the country you go, their dishes are prepared identically, yet apparently when it comes to nutrition, each Applebee’s is so unique that something as standard as caloric information varies from store to store?

    Why doesn’t this excuse apply to their Weight Watchers items?

    I guess it wouldn’t make them sound very trustworthy if they claimed, “Some items are Weight-Watchers friendly only in certain undisclosed cities.”

    Outback Steakhouse, meanwhile, beats around the bush.

    Rather than tell consumers how many calories their Barbeque Chicken and Bacon Sandwich offers, they provide tips on making it healthier and “diet friendly”:

    “Order prepared without butter or BBQ sauce,order without the bacon and cheese, request with bun if your program allows, substitute baked potato, steamed vegetables, or steamed green beans.”

    The question remains — how many calories do you get with the healthy substitutions? How many without?

    Outback “answers” this question by tooting its own horn:

    “We take pride in our “No Rules” approach to accommodating our customer’s specific dietary needs.”

    In other words, “if we didn’t give you people so much freedom when ordering, we would be able to provide nutrition information. Oh well!”

    Then there’s Wendy’s. Well, at least the Wendy’s in New York City.

    Per the fast food chain’s website:

    “We regret that Wendy’s cannot provide product calorie information to residents or customers in New York City. The New York City Department of Health passed a regulation requiring restaurants that already provide calorie information to post product calories on their menu boards — using the same type size as the product listing.

    We fully support the intent of this regulation; however, since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn’t enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation.

    To continue to provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants on our website and on our nutritional posters would subject us to this regulation. As a result, we will no longer provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants.

    So because someone can ask for a burger without ketchup or extra bacon Wendy’s can no longer offer nutrition information?

    Odd — that doesn’t stop them from posting nutrition information on their website, or in their other restaurants across the country, where consumers have jus as much flexibility in ordering.

    And how come they were able to provide caloric information in their New York City stores before the Department of Health ruling, despite custom ordering?

    I also ask — what about items like fries, sodas, frosties, and chicken nuggets, which are not made to order? They can’t even offer that information in their New York City restaurants?

    Mind you, Wendy’s prides themselves in their “unrivaled [passion] for giving people what they want — and uncompromising in giving people what they deserve.”

    We all deserve to know what is in the food we’re eating!

    Many of these chains rely on the standard argument that listing nutritional information is useless because consumers don’t go to their restaurants for nutrition.

    Alright then, if that’s the case, why not reveal the numbers? If it’s not losing potential consumers that scares you, what’s stopping you?


    Shame On You: Maximo Ravenna

    The current much-adored Argentine diet guru is Dr. Maximo Ravenna.

    Thousands of men and women in Buenos Aires – from A-list celebs to struggling low-income workers who save every last penny to get an appointment with him – are on his “miraculous” diet.

    While his patients certainly lose tremendous amounts of weight quickly (as evidenced by the growing number of Argentine celebrities who flaunt their extreme weight loss makeovers on TV shows), there is nothing miraculous about his meal plan.

    In fact, it is downright dangerous.

    Dr. Ravenna prescribes a low-carb, very low calorie diet. The daily average caloric intake ranges from 600 to 1000 calories.

    To put this into context, prisoners at Auschwitz consumed roughly 600 – 700 calories a day.

    Dr. Ravenna, however, appear to not see a problem with this. According to him, it only takes the body anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to adjust to eating 600 calories a day. How he can say that with a straight face beats me.

    I challenge you to, literally overnight, go from consuming your standard caloric intake to 600 calories. I don’t think you will find yourself adjusting to your new ridiculously low meal plan in just 2 days.

    Not surprisingly, Dr. Ravenna prescribes all his clients a multitude of vitamins and minerals.

    It’s no wonder. A diet so low in calories contributes very low levels of these nutrients.

    In fact, potassium – a crucial electrolyte — is so low in this diet that if it were not being supplemented in pill form, fatigue and serious heart disturbances would undoubtedly be a side effect.

    Apart from recommending dangerously low levels of caloric intake, Dr. Ravenna also claims – and his followers fervently believe – that flour is not only unnecessary in one’s diet, but also addictive.

    “Flour is the great enemy,” he says, “because it is a vessel for fat.” He faults foods like bread as being “appetite openers” and believes carbohydrates sap people of energy.

    The problem with these statements is that they are grave embellishments of concepts that make sense.

    For instance, refined, fiberless carbohydrates with added sugars (ie: cakes, cookies, pastries) will absolutely result in spiked blood sugar levels followed by a sharp decrease. So, yes, they can affect your energy levels negatively.

    However, a sandwich with whole grain bread (packing up to 8 grams of fiber from the bread alone) is quite a different story! It is a known fact that fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

    This low-calorie, carb-phobic meal plan is, not surprisingly, low in fiber. I’m surprised a doctor, knowing the many health benefits of fiber, would provide such a plan.

    As far as carbs being vessels for fats, that is not necessarily true.

    A bowl of oatmeal, a cup of brown rice, or a side dish of quinoa (none of which Ravenna is a big fan of) do not contribute significant amounts of fat to anyone’s diet.

    I suppose the point he is trying to make is that most people mostly eat butter on bread, or alfredo sauce with pasta.

    However, his blame system is askew. Fats naturally are more calorically dense than carbohydrates and proteins (they contribute 9 calories per gram, as opposed to 4).

    The fact that they tend to be paired up with carbohydrate-rich sources does not make carbohydrates more guilty of inducing weight gain.

    Many patients are even told they are flour addicts who will revert back to their overweight status if they bite into a slice of bread.

    Not surprisingly, Dr. Ravenna’s plan has several strict guidelines. For optimal results, it is recommended you sign up for the meals-to-go program, which provides you with Ravenna-approved breakfast, lunches, and dinners that you can have at home or take to a dinner party, if you so desire.

    Going on the diet also involves group meetings and therapy sessions, in which people are urged to let go of their food addictions and encouraged to stay on the plan.

    Dr. Ravenna’s success in Argentina appears to be unstoppable at the moment. His latest book, “La Medida que Adelgaza” (“The Measurement That Loses Weight”) is a best-seller, and his diet plan continues to win people over.

    Unfortunately, his patients’ success is not based on balanced, healthy lifestyles that include a wide variety of foods, but rather a system that teaches nothing but extreme dependence on an overly restrictive food plan.


    Shame On You: Blind Item

    For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘blind item’, it is what gossip columnists publish when they have a piece of gossip so hot — and damaging — that they don’t dare publish it with first and last name to avoid possible lawsuits.

    For instance, New York City’s infamous Page Six gossip column recently printed the following:

    WHICH reality star turned rocker recently had major work done after a minor weight loss? Following in the footsteps of her plastic surgery-addict mother, the young starlet got her tummy tightened and her breasts lifted.

    Believe it or not, I now have a blind item of my own, courtesy of a business and kitchen insider who knows firsthand of some terrible sneakiness taking place behind the scenes.

    WHICH popular “healthy” food delivery business — linked to a popular diet — is pulling the wool over some of its New York City customers? Even though your meal is supposed to be “heart healthy” and low in calories, many of the chefs who work for the outsourced company that makes the meals are known to add more butter, cream, and salt to any “healthy” dish that doesn’t taste good to them!

    I was absolutely flabbergasted to find this out. People are putting their trust in a company to deliver healthy, tasty food, and they are instead getting highly caloric, fattening meals.

    In all fairness, the popular diet company does not seem to be aware that this is going on. Negligent? Absolutely. If I was an executive member of this company, I would have someone from my staff supervising the chefs making these meals.

    To be absolutely sure of what you are eating, your best bet is to make it yourself at home. Or, at the very least, understand that when you eat out, even if it sounds mega healthy, you run the risk of consuming more calories than you would at home, or added ingredients you would never think of putting onto your dinner plate!

    PS: I know for a fact this has been happening in New York City. This service is national, though, so I don’t know if this is a national or regional problem. I’ll see what I find out.


    Shame on You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 7)

    I recently received a handful of e-mails from eager readers wondering when the next installment of “Shame on You” featuring Kevin Trudeau would be up. Rejoice, that day has come upon us!

    When we last left our best-selling author, he was sharing earth-shattering weight-loss secrets like “eat organic grapefruits all day” and “do not eat after six p.m.”

    Let’s see how Mr. Trudeau rocks our nutrition world this time around.

    “No white sugar or white flour.”

    The reason? They make us fat, according to Trudeau! In fact, “if you want to sweeten something… sugar should be your last option,” he states.

    It gets worse! “As I have mentioned previously, [white flour], when mixed with water, makes paste.” Yes, and if you overcook a piece of salmon, it becomes overly chewy and dry. So what?

    This idea that white sugar and white flour make us fat is pure hysteria.

    What always bothers me about this kind of comment is that white flour and white sugar have been around for centuries, long before obesity rates skyrocketed to current levels.

    As NYU professor Lisa Sasson recently shared with us, the much respected Mediterranean Diet — followed by many people looking to shed some pounds — includes white flour products!

    Now, allow me to explain something. It is indeed true that I recommend people try to make the large majority of their grain intake come from whole sources such as oatmeal, barley, quinoa, amaranth, and whole wheat.

    As explained in issue 1 of the Small Bites newsletter, this is largely due to the fact that the high amounts of fiber found in these foods helps us feel full faster (and thus consume less calories). Whole grain foods also contain a larger amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

    However, white flour (or sugar, for that matter) in and of itself does not “make you fat.” True, many of the nutrient-void, high-caloric snacks people consume contain white flour and/or white sugar, but that does not mean these two ingredients are to blame for obesity.

    Dunking a slice of delicious fresh-baked white bread into a small plate of olive oil at a restaurant will not make you gain weight. More than likely, it will be the ridiculously large size of your entree that will contribute as much as 70% of your day’s caloric needs!

    Mr. Trudeau also falls prey to the ridiculous myth that brown sugar is “healthier” than white sugar. Bull! All sugars contain 4 calories per gram, and are metabolized and digested the exact same way, regardless of color. Our digestive system is anything but racist!

    “Eat organic apples all day.”

    “Apples are loaded with fiber and nutrients,” Trudeau explains. Yes, true. So is every other fruit known to mankind. Why not make a more reasonable suggestion like, “eat two or three pieces of fresh fruit every day.”?

    I’ll attribute this particularly random tip to Trudeau’s editors telling him his first manuscript was 20 pages too short, and he needed more tips for his weight-loss chapter. Or, at least, that’s how I can attempt to rationalize how such a clueless statement managed to get published.

    What is with this “eat x food all day” advice? In my last installment I showcased a similar weight loss tip he shared: “eat organic grapefruits all day.” Huh???

    If you were to take Trudeau’s advice and have six apples a day, you’d be adding 431 calories to your day — the same amount you would get from a McDonald’s double cheeseburger.

    True, 431 calories from apples contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber (and a lot less saturated fat and sodium) than a Mickey D’s cheeseburger, but if we are just looking at calories, there is absolutely no difference.

    And, as I never get tired of saying, weight gain is directly related to consuming more calories than you are burning.

    “Eat only organic meat, poultry, and fish.”

    In and of itself, not a bad piece of advice for those who can afford such foods.

    However, here’s where my BS detector goes off (and my blood pressure skyrockets): “If you want to lose weight, eat as much meat and poultry as you like as long as it is organic, grass fed, ideally kosher, and most importantly, has not been given growth hormones.

    I agree that it is best to consume animal products free of growth hormones. However, here is the bottom line: organic products have the exact same amount of calories as their conventional (non-organic) counterparts.

    I recently had a reader write me and wonder why she gained weight in spite of substituting foods with high fructose corn syrup for those with real sugar. Repeat after me, everyone: it’s all about calories in, calories out!

    I can’t believe Mr. Trudeau would be so irresponsible as to urge readers to eat unlimited amounts of certain foods — especially in a chapter dedicated to “losing weight effortlessly”!

    “Do a liver cleanse.”

    ANOTHER cleanse? This is the sixth one Trudeau recommends!

    His reasoning? “If you are overweight, your liver is most definitely clogged.” He won’t say with what, but he’s certainly quick to direct you to his website for more information (at a price, of course).

    There is absolutely no reason to believe that “cleansing” one’s internal organs with pills and potions does any benefit to the body. If anything, you are ridding your body of necessary minerals and electrolytes.

    Besides, the liver is a self-cleansing organ! In fact, a lot of these “juice only” diets meant to clean your insides end up messing with our body’s self-regulating processes and often weaken the liver, reducing its self-cleaning powers.

    “Eat a big, huge salad at lunch and dinner.”

    Trudeau shamelessly says, “I don’t care if your lunch is a cheeseburger, french fries, and a pint of ice cream. Add to it a big, huge salad and eat that first. You’ll be amazed at how you lose weight.”

    What a concept! Clearly, if you stuff yourself with nutritious food first, you’ll be satisfied long before you finish half that cheeseburger or even a quarter cup of that pint of ice cream.

    The fiber in the salad will help bring on f
    eelings of satiety, especially if you’ve drizzled some healthy fat (like olive oil) over the veggies and added a source of lean protein on top (i.e.: canned tuna, grilled chicken, etc.)

    What he’s basically saying is to have salad for lunch and dinner every day to “miraculously” lose weight. That miracle? Less calories!


    I’m saving the best for last.

    In this specific tidbit of advice, Trudeau is referring to jumping on a mini trampoline ten minutes a day, which he claims increases metabolism and is “effective for weight loss.”

    I would love to see what study he got this from. I have a strong suspicion this specific tip was pulled out of somewhere, and I’m not referring to the pages of a nutrition research journal.


    Shame on You: Burger King

    This pathetic commercial was shown nationwide last summer, advertising Burger King’s Texas Double Whopper.

    We’re talking about one burger that contains:

    1,050 calories
    106% of one’s daily recommended fat intake
    130% of the daily saturated fat limit

    80% of the maximum daily sodium amount

    And… 2.5 grams of trans fat (ideally, we should be getting zero)

    So, how do you advertise a triple bypass in between two buns? Why, resort to many men’s ultimate fear — that of being compared to, gasp, a woman!

    And thus the creation of Burger King’s “Manthem”, in which men brag about their unhealthy eating habits and practically equate the Texas Double Whopper to a shot of testosterone.

    Below, the cringe-worthy lyrics:

    I am man, hear me roar
    In numbers too big to ignore

    And I’m way too hungry to settle for chick food

    ‘Cause my stomach’s startin’ to growl

    And I’m goin’ on the prowl
    For a Texas double-whopper, man that’s good

    Oh, yes, I’m a guy, I’ll admit I’ve been fed quiche

    Wave tofu bye bye, now it’s the whopper beef I reach

    I will eat this meat until my innie turns into an outtie

    I am starved, I am incorrigible

    And I need to scoff a big burger beef bacon jalopeno good thing down
    I am hungry

    I am incorrigible

    I am mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    PS: Eating like “a man, man” and stuffing yourself silly with saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium (as this commercial dares male viewers to do) is a surefire way to become obese and increase your risk of developing prostate, colon, and rectal cancer. Enjoy!


    Shame On You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 6)

    Now that Kevin Trudeau has shared some of his “earth-shattering” secrets for warding off sickness with us, let’s take a peek at chapter eight, titled “How to Lose Weight Effortlessly and Keep It Off”.

    This was one I was anxiously awaiting and simultaneously afraid to read.

    Trudeau begins this chapter by setting up an all-too familiar tale. Once an overweight child, he was always conscious of his weight.

    He claims to have done everything under the Sun to lose weight through adulthood (even “exercising as much as five hours a day,” which sounds more like hyperbolic prose than reality), but it wasn’t until he “went abroad” that he found the answer.

    While living abroad, I ate everything I wanted, yet began to lose weight without trying,” he confides.

    While it is true that obesity in the United States is reaching unbelievable proportions, the rest of the world isn’t immune. For instance, 12% of French adults are obese and 40% are overweight, while half of Great Britain’s adult population is overweight.

    Truth is, downing croissants and hot cocoa for an entire month will add on pounds, whether you’re doing it in Seattle or the Alps.

    Over the next few weeks I’ll analyze some of the “secrets” Trudeau claims are 100% guaranteed to help you lose weight.

    Hopefully, with each passing week you share my disbelief that this man has sold five million copies of Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About.

    “Do not eat after six p.m.”

    One of the most aggravating nutrition myths. For some reason, Oprah loves to dispense this “tip” to her viewers anytime she discusses weight loss.

    The fact of the matter is, calories do not care when you eat them. A 600 calorie ice cream sundae will provide 600 calories whether you have it for breakfast or at 10 PM.

    Trudeau claims, “… the good news is you can virtually eat like a pig all day long. And if you stop eating after 6 p.m., you will still lose weight.

    Really? I dare anyone who normally eats 2,000 calories to consume 3,500 calories between 9 AM and 6 PM and drop half a pound.

    Not to mention, why is 6 PM the “magic number”? Why not 7? Or 8? Or 10? Beats me! Trudeau appears to have picked this number out of thin air. There is absolutely no research proving that eating carelessly all day and abstaining from food starting at 6 PM results in weight loss.

    Not eating after 6 PM might be plausible if you go to bed at 7:30, but if you don’t hit the sack until 11 PM or midnight, going to bed on an empty stomach does not make you thinner.

    Trudeau should be emphasizing healthy habits, not telling people to down as many calories as they want while the sun is up with the ridiculous claim that as long as they keep their mouths shut after 6 PM they’ll lose weight.

    The only thing this 6 PM rule is likely to do is decrease your total caloric intake each day, resulting in weight loss. People fall prey to unhealthy snacking late at night, so cutting that out (along with the extra calories) will obviously result in some weight being shedded.

    “Do a colon cleanse.”

    I went over this in a previous post — but allow me to repeat. This results in immediate water weight loss, but you will not burn fat or truly lose weight by flushing out your colon.

    “Eat organic grapefruits all day.”

    Uhhh. OK. The reasoning behind this? “There is an enzyme in grapefruit that burns fat. Eating grapefruits all day, as many as you desire, will speed the fat burning process.

    People are too quick to select an isolated enzyme that shows promise in a controlled lab setting and attribute it to a food. Yes, true, there is an enzyme in grapefruits that speeds up the fat burning process, but not enough to help anyone lose weight just by having some grapefruit slices.

    Remember, grapefruits still have calories. So if you are eating 8 grapefruits a day (which I guess is allowed according to Trudeau since he’s encouraging people to eat them “all day long”), that’s 640 calories added to your day.

    There is no food that, when eaten, results in negative total calories. None.

    Also, what kind of nutrition advice is it to tell someone to eat a food “all day” in unlimited quantities?

    “Absolutely no aspartame or artificial sweeteners.”

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I wouldn’t tell someone currently not consuming artificial sweeteners to start, but an occassional diet Coke or sugar free popsicle will not kill anyone.

    Regardless, this is more of a wellness/health debate, not a weight loss one. Aspartame does not contribute calories. Having it does not contribute to weight gain.

    As I have mentioned before, though, the problem with artificial sweeteners is that they are often found in foods that are nutritionally empty and offer nothing in terms of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

    “No fast food or chain restaurants.”

    Well, depends on what you’re eating — and how much! As Dr. Lisa Young recently told us, portion sizes in fast food restaurants have been exploding. So, yes, it is easy to consume half (or more!) a day’s worth of calories in one sitting when an order of large fries is as large as a toddler’s head.

    However, according to Trudeau, the problem isn’t the food itself, but rather the hidden dangers found in food produced by chain restaurants.

    You can actually eat French fries and cheeseburgers and lose weight, provided that the ingredients they use are all organic and contain no chemical additives,” he throws out with quite a bit of chutzpah.

    This is another huge myth. Organic food (while lacking pesticides and being environmentally friendly) is not less caloric or fattening than the same conventional product. Organic butter has as many calories per teaspoon as non-organic butter, and an organic hamburger bun is still lacking the fiber in a Wonder Bread hamburger bun.

    Trudeau contends that fast food restaurants are placing addictive chemicals into their food that keep us coming for more, which in my opinion is a provocative, yet feeble, conspiracy theory.

    I always find it funny that a food is only considered “addictive” when it is unhealthy.

    For instance, someone eating nine grapefruits a day (which Trudeau appears to be s
    o fond of) might be considered a “health nut”.
    No one would ever dream of pointing the finger at the grapefruit and accusing it of being a dirty, rotten fruit that drives people to addiction.

    However, change that grapefruit for a Dorito and suddenly Frito-Lay is suspected of throwing in a pinch of crack in their nacho cheese flavoring.

    If hamburgers and fries are a daily staple for you — whethey they are organic or not — you’ve got your weight loss goal cut out for you.

    Next week — more of Trudeau’s “secrets” (and my eye rolls).


    Shame on You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 5)

    Let’s continue with Kevin Trudeau’s secrets that will help us never get sick!

    Too bad “not reading Kevin Trudeau’s books” isn’t one of the tips; I simultaneously get nauseous and high blood pressure every time I read some of his ridiculous ideas on health and nutrition.

    For example…

    “Do a seven to thirty day fast.”

    Trudeau recommends going to his website to find out specific suggestions and guidelines, but, lo and behold, you can only see this information if you subscribe to his website – and pay $9.95 a month.

    Although I was considering forking over that amount for the sake of research, I then crashed back to reality and realized I didn’t need to see Trudeau’s suggestions to discredit this piece of advice.

    Fasting as a way of losing weight or “getting rid of toxins” is not only ridiculous, but also unsafe.

    When our bodies are in ‘starvation mode’, they go into ketosis (a state in which they burn fat, rather than carbohydrates, for energy). If you were ever on a low-carb diet, I am sure you remember being told this was ideal.

    Not so much. States of ketosis often result in kidney damage that can lead to filtration problems down the road, and also prevent our brains from being nourished in the most optimal way — with glucose (a carbohydrate).

    If you are concerned with toxins and “cleaning out your system”, then eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, integrate whole grains into your diet, stay hydrated, and perform physical activity.

    Starving yourself for seven days, or drinking only cayenne pepper, water, and maple syrup for three weeks is one of the least helpful things you can do for your body.

    How could you possibly be benefiting from starving yourself and thus not nourishing your body with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals?

    Bottom line — fasting weakens our immune systems, thereby elevating our odds of getting sick.

    “Do not eat any food produced or sold by a publicly traded corporation or is a ‘brand name’ product.”

    Which leaves us with…? I would love for Mr. Trudeau to tell me how I’m supposed to eat in today’s world without getting at least a handful of foods that are brand name products.

    The standard “get everything at your local farmer’s market” isn’t enough in this situation.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am all for supporting local farmers and getting fresh produce from them, but why this expectation that they should be our sole source of food?

    Farmer’s markets, for instance, can’t provide me with raisins, edamame, tempeh, oatmeal, or brown rice – some of the healthiest foods in this planet! As far as I know, these are only available from publicly traded companies, no matter how small.

    “Do not eat anything that comes out of the microwave.”

    The reason for this? “When you microwave anything, it becomes energetically toxic to the body. [It] weakens your immune system and causes depression and anxiety”, Trudeau explains.

    Going back to the real world, microwave cooking can be beneficial in some aspects. Since microwave cooking requires less time than conventional methods, more nutrients are retained when cooking certain foods.

    Water-soluble nutrients (vitamins B and C, in particular) are quickly broken down if they are boiled in hot water; in a microwave, however, they will be retained in a similar fashion as to when they are steamed.

    Additionally, microwaves are often the best way to defrost certain foods by reducing the risk of foodborne illness.

    “Do not drink diet sodas.”

    “The idea that diet sodas have fewer calories, [and] thus are good for weight control, is a total lie,” Trudeau revels.

    In fact, if you follow his advice, you can replace diet soda with regular soda and not gain weight. Good luck!

    If you are currently drinking 3 cans of Diet Coke and replace them with regular Coke, you’re talking about 400 extra calories added to your day. If you change nothing else about the way you eat, you will undoubtedly gain weight.

    While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate drinking diet sodas, I also think this concept of “don’t you ever take a sip of Diet Coke” is hysteria.

    This summer, a student in a class I was assisting with raised her hand and proceeded to breathlessly share “facts” about Coke that have been circulating in e-mail chain letters for the past ten years. Among them, “If you put a penny in a glass of Coke overnight, it disintegrates!”

    The supposed link we are supposed to make is, “Wow, if it can do that to a penny, imagine what it does to our body!” Except that pennies don’t have the same protective acids our stomachs do, and our internal organs are not made of copper.

    Sorry, but spam chain letters are not good sources of nutrition advice.

    If you are eating a balanced diet rich in calcium, having a Diet Coke or two every weekend is not going to kill you.

    Apart from the calcium-leeching properties of diet soda, the big concern is that these are usually accompaniments to unhealthy fast food. If you pop open a can of soda in the afternoon, you are most likely to have it with chips, cookies, or candy rather than fruit, vegetables, or a handful of trail mix.

    Come back next week for more nuggets from the book the New York State Consumer Protection Board billed a “fraud”!


    Shame On You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 4)

    When we last left our infomercial wiz, Mr. Trudeau was making the ridiculous claim that animals in the wild never get sick and, therefore, we must really be doing something wrong if we get a cold once in a while.

    Chapter Six, titled “How to Never Get Sick Again” was one I could not wait to sink my teeth into.

    Trudeau opens the chapter by arrogantly claiming it might as well be titled “How to Be Young Forever” since his tips will not only prevent you from getting sick, they will also reverse the aging process!

    I’m surprised he doesn’t pitch something along the lines of “If you call within the next 30 minutes, I’ll even provide you with a small bottle from the Fountain of Youth! CALL NOW!”

    Trudeau claims that “a healthy person has little, if any, body odor, bad breath, foot odor, [and] their urine and stool do not smell.”

    Really? I know plenty of people with diabetes who don’t have body odor or bad breath, just as I know people who are in fine physical condition but apparently don’t get along too well with their bar of soap and toothbrush. I’ll chalk this one up to yet another Trudeau opinion spun as fact.

    He then goes on a rant about life expectancy, explaining that our sense of aging is completely warped. In his mind, living until the age of 85 is a darn shame, since our bodies are meant to live until we are at least 120.

    “The fact of the matter is a person 100 years old should be strong, flexible, full of life and energy, and have the physical capacity of what the average forty-year-old person has,” he explains.

    Since Trudeau is so hell-bent on using animals and nature as benchmarks, perhaps he can see that all animals — including humans — go through a life cycle, which goes from birth to death, and includes childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Being 100 years of age and unable to run a marathon like someone in their thirties is not a sign of decay and disease!

    Trudeau then goes on to list his “amazing secrets” for never getting sick and remaining young. I will divide these into several posts so I can break down my favorites at length.

    1. “Get 15 colonics in 30 days.”

    That is one colonic every two days! As I mentioned recently, colonics are completely unnecessary. The only thing they accomplish is the loss of water weight, which is immediately gained back. Additionally, they destroy all the healthy bacteria in our colon, which is responsible for fighting away infection!

    Trudeau claims that as I am reading his book, I have “three to fifteen pounds of undigested fecal matter stuck” in my colon, which in turn cause gas and bloating, slow down my metabolism, and prevent me from absorbing nutrients! I’m surprised he isn’t also blaming the death of baby penguins in Antarctica to my colon.

    Furthermore, if Trudeau is so concerned with nutrients, why is he advocating people get colonics, which wipe minerals like potassium (which our colons absorb) out of our bodies?

    I am going out on a limb here and assuming Trudeau has never taken a basic human physiology course. Otherwise, he would know that toxins can not build up in our colon since it consistently sheds its lining.

    As I have mentioned before, the best way to cleanse your system is by reducing the amount of junk food you eat and increasing your intake of fresh, whole foods, getting at least 30 grams of fiber a day, and staying hydrated. This alone will keep the nasty stuff moving through your system so it can be excreted.

    And, if you want to speed up your metabolism while getting rid of toxins, do physical activity! This way, you’ll sweat the toxins away while keeping your metabolism working at a speedy rate.

    Tips two through eight consist of more cleanses! That’s right — Trudeau wants you to get liver, kidney, gallbladder, parasite, and full-body cleanses.

    Is Trudeau supposed to be helping people get healthy? The above sounds like the perfect way to suck out all sorts of nutrients from our body. Enough said.

    10. Use a rebounder (mini trampoline) ten minutes a day.

    “A rebounder stimulates the immune system and is incredibly effective at cleaning out toxins out of the cells.”

    And, according to Trudeau, it stimulates all major organs and glands.

    The same can be said for ANY exercise, whether it’s power walking, lifting weights, taking an aerobics class, dancing for 20 minutes, or doing jumping jacks in your underwear.

    There is no need to go out and keep a mini trampoline handy to prevent from getting sick.

    11. “Walk one hour a day.”

    “Walking outside reduces stress, stimulates the lymphatic system, promotes a thin, lean body, and walking while looking at the world eliminates depression and dramatically reduces stress.”

    Again, any physical activity will result in the production of endorphins, the “feel-good” natural chemicals that have been linked with feelings of vitality and

    I do want to point out that exercise will not cure or eliminate depression. If you are clinically depressed, power-walking for 60 minutes a day might help, but it should by no means replace counseling or any medication you may be on.

    And, yes, ANY physical activity will promote a thin, lean body if it is also accompanied by a sensible and balanced eating plan. Walking one hour a day and then dining at Burger King is a whole different story.

    The important thing is to simply move more. Your body doesn’t care if you’re walking in Beverly Hills or a treadmill in Des Moines, Iowa. Simply move!

    If you weigh 300 pounds and do not exercise regularly, do not attempt to walk for one hour if you currently feel short of breath after going up one flight of stairs.

    Rather, simply start by walking for as long as you can handle, even if it’s just five minutes. Then, slowly try to increase the amount of time you walk each day — even if it’s just 20 more seconds each day.

    Although you need to challenge your body’s limits, you also need to respect them to avoid from getting hurt.

    In a few days, I’ll post more of Mr. Trudeau’s gems. Come back for a good laugh!


    Shame on You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 3 — Addendum)

    In his fervor to prove that the field of medicine is hell-bent on not curing diseases (by throwing statements like “there are more people diagnosed with cancer than ever before”), Kevin Trudeau fails to mention that no one is dying from scarlet fever, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, or smallpox anymore.

    I would also be interested in learning how Mr. Trudeau explains the fact that life expectancy is higher now than 100 years ago.


    Shame on You: Kevin Trudeau (Part 3)

    Chapter 2 of Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About is titled “What’s Wrong with Health Care in America?”

    Kevin Trudeau sets up his argument that the medical community is basically worthless by throwing out the following vague statements (which are not cited, sourced, or backed up with any evidence). My comments follow each one.

    “More people get cancer than ever before.”

    Define “ever before.” If you are comparing today’s cancer rates to 1750, when no one even knew what the disease was, then yes, we currently have millions more people diagnosed with it.

    “More people have acid reflux, ulcers, and stomach problems than ever before.”

    So what? Getting food poisoning from eating undercooked kitchen has nothing to do with how healthy you are. Also, ulcers are caused by a bacteria named H. Pylori (the whole “ulcers from stress” explanation is a myth) which is currently being researched by gastroenterologists. It is not yet known how people get it in their systems, or why some harbor it without displaying symptoms.

    “More women have menopause problems than before.”

    No, the symptoms are now understood . In 1875, women with menopause symptoms were declared insane and locked in attics.

    “More people have bad skin and acne than before.”

    Proof? Additionally, the majority of teenage acne is caused by the surge of hormones that accompanies puberty. Completely irrelevant to what Trudeau’s book claims to address.

    “More people suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress than ever before.”

    Yes, because all the above can now be identified and diagnosed. It’s not that suddenly people are more depressed, it’s that now people with any of the above can be understood and helped, rather than be told they are witches and burned at the stake.

    Strangely, Trudeeau finishes his laundry list of bizarre and unfounded claims with this bullet point:

    “There are more surgeries performed than ever before.”

    This is relevant how? Yes, thanks to surgery, malignant tumors can now be removed, impaired vision can be restored to 20/20, and knees and hips can be replaced. Besides, plastic surgery alone has increased dramatically in the past 20 years, so in comparison to surgery statistics from 1960, today’s numbers will obviously be higher.

    Trudeau attemps to dismiss nutrition by starting that:

    “More people are on diets than ever before.”

    Yes, FAD diets. The ones all nutritionists tell people are just gimmicky and not a smart way to lose weight.

    “More people take more diet products than ever before.”

    Seriously, what is with this “ever before” business? Has Trudeau found records showing what prehistoric cavemen did to lose the flab? Anyway, the reason why people purchase and consume more diet products is because there are now thousands of them out there, as opposed to a small handful in 1945.

    “Yet more people are fat than before.”

    Yes, Mr. Trudeau. Although you don’t believe in calorie control, may I suggest you look into the explosion of portion sizes in the United States? People are being fed larger amounts and, thus, eating more calories. Its as simple as that.

    Trudeau finishes this chapter by letting us know we are a doomed species, since we are the only ones to get sick. He exclaims, “animals in the wild… do not get sick!”

    Really? How does Mr. Trudeau explain bird flu, gorillas infected with ebola, or millions of rats dying as a cause of the Bubonic plague? Or, closer to home, rabid skunks and raccoons?

    The back cover of Natural Cures… claims Trudaeu “provides hope, provides answers, provides solutions.” How about providing refunds for the millions who own this book?

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