Low Fat – Good For Marketing, Bad For Health

The other day, Samantha set up a tea party for us – just the girls, as she likes to say. She was explaining each of the plastic food items, and when she showed me the muffin, she declared that it was even low fat.

I was a little surprised that she was using the term low fat. Had I inadvertently mentioned something about that? I try to be very careful when I talk about food. Had she heard it at school from one of her friends?

I don’t buy low fat food because low fat means high in something else (usually some kind of crap). The terms low fat and light have no doubt been a marketing gold mine for most food manufacturers. But low fat doesn’t mean low calories, and nine times out of ten, it doesn’t mean healthier. Light is just a marketing term with really no meaning at all.

Low fat = low taste. Manufacturers must add stuff to make it taste good, like extra salt, extra sugar, msg, etc.

Light=scam. The term light is used when foods don’t meet the FDA requirements to be low-fat. For example, Light Philly cream cheese has less fat than the original, but it has 35% more sugar. Yikes.

So if your goal is to eat healthier, don’t buy anything that says low fat or light. If your goal is to lose weight, don’t buy anything that says low fat or light. If your goal is to enjoy food, don’t buy anything that says low fat or light. I think that about covers everything.

Are there exceptions? Yes. So be sure to read the labels, and make sure your low fat, light options are not hiding high calorie, high crap ingredients.

As for Samantha’s low-fat remark, it probably came from Sponge Bob.


Here is an interesting concept: Fear is an indication that you’re on the threshold of growth.

If this is true, and it seems to be a reasonable concept in so many situations, it is important to push through it, and realize that you’ll still be standing and you’ll still be breathing on the other side of it.

A surprising challenge for people who are moving toward a healthier lifestyle and changing their eating habits is peer pressure… or the perception of it. We fear drawing attention to our healthy eating habits, especially as many of those around us are still overweight, pigging out, or making choices for themselves that we know are not good choices. We don’t want to have to explain ourselves or make anyone feel “bad”, so often we will make choices that we know are inconsistent with our goals.

Sometimes it seems like we often feel that we have to “justify” “explain” or even “apologize” for some of these choices in the presence of others.

1. “I ate a big breakfast, so I am not really that hungry.”
2. “My stomach is a little upset, so I don’t want to eat anything too rich.”
3. “I am going out for a big dinner, so I want a light lunch.”
4. “I just ate a big helping, and I am stuffed.”

If you find yourself doing this, you may be undermining your confidence in your own decisions without even realizing it.

However, our health and fitness goals must take priority over the reactions and feelings of others. This takes practice and perseverance. I deal with this perception of peer pressure every time I am at an event or a get together that involves food… which is all the time. Sometimes I plan my “cheat day” for these events, so I won’t have to deal with people commenting on how little or how healthy I am eating while everyone else pigs out.

1. “You won’t even have one little cookie?”
2. “I can’t believe you only ate ½ of your entrée.”
3. “ I knew you were going to order the fruit plate.”
4. “You can’t even have a bite?”

Much easier said than done, but a friend of mine let me in on a little secret: What You Think of Me Is None of My Business. Other people’s hang-ups and judgments about you really have very little to do with you. It’s ALWAYS way more about them than it is about you.

Don’t let the fear of peer pressure or hurt feelings drive your decisions. The decision to give in to or resist and impulse usually comes down to a split second. Taking charge in that moment requires perseverance and practice. Make your health and fitness goals a priority by making the right decision in the moment.

Remember: what others think about you is none of your business, so stop holding yourself back or editing what you want for fear of how others will perceive you. Find your own okayness. Claim it. Own it. Practice and perseverance!


When it comes to discipline and willpower, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. For many of us, trouble starts at parties or when one of our well-meaning co-workers brings in donuts or homemade cookies. This article is not about how to have more willpower during these trouble times. That is for another day. This article is about taking charge of something you have complete control over.


A few of my clients have the biggest challenge after dinner. The Danger Zone. Night eating can sabotage any good eating routine. So here is rule #1. I love rules… just ask my kids and husband. Sometimes when you are given a rule to follow by a “third” party, it can be easier to follow. It can be non-negotiable. It will lead to good habits.

This rules apply whether it’s at home nibbling and snacking while you’re making dinner, (or right after work), or it’s snacking at night while the TV is on.

RULE #1: You’ve Got To Clean The Junk Out Of The House:
This is easier said than done, and I usually get an earful from my clients: “I have kids in the house” Or, “I can just learn to have a small portion and still enjoy myself.” Or, “my husband has to have his bag/box of ________fill in the blank.”
You have a choice. You can keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years or you can make some changes and get a different result. The truth is you can have a house free of junk food even with kids in the house. You are in control of your home. Kids will eat what is there, and if you have healthy stuff… they eat healthy stuff. Why would you want your kids eating crap anyway? Ever since I got rid of all the junk, we have one night a week when we go get a special treat. The kids value that treat way more than the Popsicle they used to eat every day after school.

When there is junk in the house, overeating becomes VERY EASY. Almost effortless. You need to make it a little harder on yourself. If it’s easy to eat junk, you’ll eat during your danger zone. If it’s hard, it will make it that much harder… Especially during your danger zone. My danger zone is in the around 3 in the afternoon.

Discipline is key and like I said before, we all have it and we all exhibit a great deal of it, but life is already hard at times and requires courage and discipline every day. Why make it even harder on yourself by having junk food around, all the time, at your fingertips?

So that is the WHY, but more importantly is the HOW.

Eating actually makes a very deep groove in your brain. Sometimes it can be almost like a “math equation,” and your brain goes on automatic drive to make 1+2=3. If you always have a cup of coffee with a cinnamon roll, just the scent of coffee will most likely make you pick up a cinnamon roll.

You need to make different equations in your brain. This is the new you, the one who takes different actions to get a new result. This doesn’t mean that I’m asking you to get tasteless celery and suffer through. Not even close. That is NOT sustainable and it is not realistic to choke down stuff you don’t like.
This means finding healthy alternatives for your home that you DO LIKE. Maybe it’s raspberries or bananas. Maybe it’s tomato sprinkled with fresh basil and a little olive oil and lemon. A few things I love:
1. 0%fat Greek yogurt with frozen fruit, cinnamon, and Kashi
2. Costco mango salsa with carrots (instead of chips)
3. Quinoa in my pot roast instead of potatoes
4. Low fat Swiss cheese
5. Broccoli steamed and sprinkled with a little fresh parmesan and fresh lemon

I know there are things out there that you like, and new things that you will try and end up enjoying. Don’t just start eliminating the junk without making new purchases and substitutions. You need to make new associations, too. If you’re trying to quit coffee, then “quit” something else you use to eat with it. Make new connections in your brain, a new “1+2=3.”

Last thing: Get rid of the junk food NOW. Don’t eat it away, throw it away… today.


I recently met a woman who was following, or trying to follow a low fat diet. She was asking me if I thought low fat diets really work. Like most of us, she has been googling diet and fitness with a somewhat confusing result. So here is my two cents.

Low fat diets have been extremely popular. But recently there has been a trend to reduce carbohydrate consumption and increase fats and proteins. This newer diet strategy has shown to be extremely effective in improving overall health, body composition, and performance.

There is definitely confusion regarding low fat diets, because there is still ongoing research that examines the efficacy of low fat/high carbohydrate diets for weight loss. A lot of the confusion stems from the fact that low fat diets work when it comes to weight loss. But keep reading, there is more to this story.

The reason low fat diets work is because anytime you decrease a person’s caloric intake to a level significantly below their energy expenditure they will lose weight. It isn’t rocket science just simple math. The question should not be if low fat diets work but if they work the best?

From my own experience, the answer to that is NO. And trust me, I have been on some crazy low fat diets. Low fat diets usually include high carbohydrates. But lowering your carbohydrate consumption and increasing your fat and protein intake leads to a diet that is more effective at reducing fat, preserving and building lean body mass, and improving health.

I used to be “afraid” of fat. I would never eat anything with over 2 or 3 grams of fat. What a bore! Then as I started to learn more about the effects of high carbs and the math game (calories in v.s calories out), I realized I would not gain weight if I ate more fat here and there. I actually noticed my physique looking better and healthier after tweaking the fat consumption in my diet. When you can eat more than 4 grams of fat, it opens up a world of new and delicious foods!

The math game is most important when you are dealing with dietary numbers (calories in v.s. calories out), so once you have your math under control look for balance. A balanced carbohydrate/protein/fat diet is key to increase your level of satiety (you feel full longer), increase blood sugar control (yielding better weight loss), and improved compliance. Improved compliance is by far the most important aspect of a successful “diet”. The more you stick to your plan, the better your plan will work.

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