Being wary of weight loss buzzwords

Have you ever overheard a conversation between strangers and found it difficult not to comment on something? You know the information they were sharing was not accurate but you probably think that for the most part it’s no big deal.  In fact, it’s common to simply turn away with a slight grin as we think to ourselves, “They’ll learn on their own someday, just like I did.”

I have noticed that as I age, I say that phrase to myself more frequently as I remind myself to keep my mouth shut because I realize most individuals will learn the facts on their own.  They prefer not to listen to a complete stranger tell them how it is.

My problem is that it’s very hard for me not to jump into the conversation when the topic is related to weight loss or healthy eating.  I’ve stopped myself a few times, especially when one of my children are with me.  They know when I want to say something because they hear the conversation as well.  I get the “Ummm, mom -no,” look and I force myself to move to another location since it’s difficult to keep quiet.

It happened again just a day ago while I was shopping at my favorite health-food store.  A group of four young women walked in and all they were talking about was their desire to lose weight.  Then they began to shop.They were reading labels and conversing about what they heard from a friend, a recent radio advertisement, a television commercial or read about on the Internet.  They were using all the nutrition buzzwords that are basically used for one thing;  to sell products to consumers.

I have noticed some new buzzwords about nutrition lately, and heard them repeated several times during the conversation the girls were having.  Here is where I stand on the words they were using:

  • Energy:   If a beverage claims to be free of calories but still provides energy, be wary.  Calories are energy. If a beverage has no calories, it has no energy. Giving the drink a name that says it has energy, when the drink contains no source of energy, does not change the fact that the drink contains no energy.
  • Gluten free:  This doesn’t mean that it’s a diet / weight-loss food.  There are a small number of people who can’t handle gluten because they have celiac disease. There is no health benefit to avoiding gluten if you don’t have the disease.
  • Pomegranate:  I love this amazing food and yes, pomegranates provide numerous health benefits but simply adding pomegranate to soft drinks or junk food does not make them healthy.
  • Acai:  Supposedly these girls were told it is a weight loss miracle food.  If this were true I’m assuming that we would no longer have an obesity epidemic in the U.S. because everyone would be consuming Acai?
  • Multigrain:  When you see that word, it basically means that MORE than one type of grain ingredient is present, which could mean white flour and cornmeal or oats and does not mean wholegrain, which is healthy.   There is a big difference here.
  • Omega-3:  Okay, we know that omega-3 fats are important, but exactly how much omega-3 does the particular food item or beverage contain?  If you ask me what I prefer, I’ll tell you:  flax seeds, salmon, sardines and walnuts are excellent food sources of omega-3 fatty acids; be aware that other items might not contain the OMEGA-3 that you assume they do.
  • Fiber: Humans have evolved to handle the fiber found naturally in plant foods.  But the “fiber” that’s extracted from novel plants and then blended into yogurt or beverages?  I’ll let you be the judge after you read this. 
  • Protein:  Severely cutting back on or consuming excess protein doesn’t make you thin, but these four girls sure thought one method must work.  They were intensely looking for any labeling with information regarding protein and weight loss.  Here is what I found.

After listening to all the above buzzwords mentioned in the discussion by these four young girls, I just decided it was best to make my way to the cash register with my soy nuts and wholegrain bread and get out of the store!  Did I want to inform them that the lady they just saw rush past them was once 300 pounds and lost weight by simply making healthier choices and walking?  Of course I wanted to, but since they didn’t have any issues with being overweight, I thought it best to keep my mouth shut and just remember once again, “They’ll learn on their own someday, just like I did.”

What buzzwords about health are you curious about?

Photo credit shyb

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