Diets & Supplements
An Opinion on Fad Diets and Weight Loss Supplements
We’re going to venture into some new territory today…buckle your seat-belts…we’re talking fad diets and weight loss supplements. #GASP!
First, take a deep, cleansing breath…allow your blood pressure to return to normal, and hear me out. I’m kicking the elephant out of the room right off the bat and letting you know, “I’m not selling anything!” Pinky-promise. And when I use the term “supplements”, I’m not referring to things like vitamins and minerals. Due to the nature of the quality of the food available to us in the grocery store, supplementing vitamins and minerals can be a key in achieving a healthy lifestyle.
The Sad Truth
As a woman, I’ve grown up in a society that values looks above just about everything else. Because of this, I’ve fallen prey to the desire to look and feel beautiful over the desire to look and feel healthy (I’m human!).
TV, Social Media, and Magazines in the grocery check-out line are constantly bombarding us with huge promises, alluring photos and sweeping health claims promised by marketers, companies and sellers of the “newest, most fantastic product known to all mankind”. (Products that weren’t around 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, and will likely be replaced by the “next best thing” in 5 years, one year…next month?)
These same marketers recognize my desire as a mama, wanting to feed my family the best food possible, all the time, even when time to do so eludes me. So, if offered a solution to supplement my diet, lose unnecessary weight and feed my kiddos a quick and easy meal, shake or pill? You better believe I’m going to listen! In fact, I’ll take two please and thank you!
But…is this the best option?
Let’s think about the term “supplement”. What does it mean?
By definition, a supplement is trying to fill-in or complete a deficiency. I’ll be the first to admit that we supplement our health when we’re feeling under the weather. We do this through extra probiotics to give our “good guys” a little boost when we’re sick. And we “supplement” with things like magnesium oil spray, cod liver oil and other vitamins and minerals.
I have both greens powder and protein powder (as well as collagen peptides) in my cupboard to supplement our diet during those times life takes over, I’m out of yogurt and it’s either a protein/fruit/veggie smoothie or a quick jaunt through the fast-food drive-thru. (Protein powder for the win!) And some greens powder mixed into a glass of water is still better than not having any veggies the whole day through. But these are the exceptions, not the daily norm. I’m not utilizing these supplements to fill in daily needs not being met. So please hear me when I tell you these supplements are not all bad (but many are down right horrible and do more damage to your health than good)* It’s important we be honest with ourselves though.
If I’m using supplements, I have to ask myself some questions…
- Am I using supplements as a “healthy band-aid” but turning a blind eye to the rest of the foods I take in?
- Am I relying on these supplements for health or am I working toward finding the support my body needs through food?
- Are these supplements becoming a daily “go-to” because I’m not spending the necessary time to meal-plan and prepare food ahead of time?
- Have I researched the ingredients and safety of these supplements myself, or am I relying on product reviews/marketers/sellers to inform me?
Remember, filling in a gap here and there is one thing, but supplements should not be integrated into our daily lives for the rest of our lives** (which, for many, is simply cost-prohibitive).
There are No Shortcuts When it Comes to Health
Weight loss supplements may provide short-term benefits, but they aren’t practical for the long-run and can even become addicting, causing crashes and burnout when not used or forgotten. (Which does not prove their excellence, but should, quite oppositely, raise a red flag!) Even supplements with “all natural ingredients” like garcina cambogia or green coffee bean should be questioned.
True health requires work, research, dedication and a long-term approach. Unfortunately, this “work” is often viewed negatively…why else would the “quick-fix” health industry still be booming?
True health comes from eating the right combination of nutrient dense foods (appropriate amounts and prepared properly), getting adequate (not excessive) daily exercise, minimizing our exposure to toxins, getting quality sleep and limiting stress.
Are ya still with me?
Let’s Step Back and Look at the Facts
Instead of focusing on all I don’t know in the “health world”, I like to focus on what I do know. So what do I know?
- What I know is that traditional diets have stood the test of time.
- What I know is that traditional diets cost less money than diet supplements and diet trends.
- What I know is if there really was a quick-fix, a perfect supplement or a magic pill that actually worked WE WOULD ALL HAVE ONE BY NOW!
- What I know is that my body responds to nourishment from REAL FOOD much better than a powdered food-product.
- What I know is that my children’s behavior (good or bad) directly correlates to what they’ve eaten to nourish their growing bodies.
- What I know is if I jump on the latest dietary supplement bandwagon, I WILL SEE A DIFFERENCE…but if no healthy dietary habits have been created, any changes made will soon disappear and I’ll be back at square one.
BUT, scientists will continue to create new products and work alongside marketers. They’ll continue targeting young teens who desire the “perfect body” (as described by society, or some of their buddies with faster metabolisms). Young mom’s having babies longing for their pre-pregnancy body (instead of embracing the new beautiful body that just carried and birthed a new life). Older women going through “the change”, who’s bodies no longer respond to, or have the same dietary needs as years past. And those with chronic health ailments getting nowhere with mainstream doctors or prescription medications.
They’ll continue to do this because people will bite. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. They’ll bite, clinging to the promises and falling for the attractive lure of these health supplements. Hook-line-and sinker!
So where do we go from here?
Remember, our ultimate goal is to be able to live a healthy life “Full of Days”, so that we can thrive where we are and not be tied down by chronic issues that can be healed by diet and informed healthy changes. Unless you’re simultaneously changing your diet to provide these essential nutrients through the food you eat, then you’ll be stuck taking supplements till the cows come home. So the first step is to find out your specific dietary needs. This takes work, some experimentation, listening to your body and patience…LOTS OF PATIENCE!
A Few Thoughts to Keep in Mind
* There are countless “health” supplements available, if you’re going to use them (either to aid your body in healing, or for truly supplementing when healthier options are not possible) please be sure you’re using the healthiest supplements available. This won’t be cheap, and should cost more than simply eating a healthy, varied diet with plenty of fresh produce and grass-fed, organic meats.
If using protein powder, be sure it’s in the form of Whey Protein Concentrate (never isolates), that it comes from raw, organic, 100% grass-fed cows milk, and that it doesn’t contain any fillers, artificial sweeteners or artificial flavorings. (This certainly narrows down the playing field, and the price you’ll pay per serving will be similar in price to an actual serving of meat.)
Check all protein powders for the word “isolate” or “isolated”, if you see it, don’t buy it! Isolated protein powders from soy, whey, casein and egg whites are usually made by a high-temperature process which over-denatures the proteins to where they become useless. In the meantime, this high-temperature process increases nitrates and other carcinogens (no thanks!). Soy proteins are the worst as they’re high in mineral-blocking phytates, thyroid-depressing phytoestrogens and potent enzyme inhibitors that depress growth and cause cancer.
A Few Caveats
** Those suffering from chronic or severe health issues may need the extra support from supplements to regulate and restore normal functions within the body (potentially life-long support, especially if you have undergone gastric-bypass surgery, or had organs removed which can no longer perform mandatory functions). Just be sure that the supplements are necessary and not a short-cut for health that could be obtained through food (always the best option) and as always, find a healthcare practitioner willing to work with you and your diet to help guide you.
You can do this!
We’re here to walk beside you! Baby step your way to a healthy diet! (Channeling Bill Murray)
Sharing is Caring
Because we all know people captured by the lure and promises of these companies, share this on your social media page and let’s stop the madness in its tracks, once and for all!