Alan and I just watched Fed Up, the documentary about food, exercise and the food industry. Have you seen it? I love food documentaries and found it thoroughly intriguing. The film enlightened me on three common misconceptions about food and weight below…
Myth #1: It’s your own fault if you’re overweight.
The documentary stresses that obesity is the result of a broken food system—not laziness or gluttony. It’s an eye-opening way of thinking about it since many of us have been taught that weight management is all about eating less and exercising more. After all, it’s just a simple model of calories in vs. calories out, right? Wrong. While that model seems straightforward, the next two myths explain why it’s not.
Myth #2: All calories are created equal.
I was sitting at lunch the other day and overheard someone say, “There are no good or bad calories.” But not all calories are created equal which means controlling weight is not as simple as eating less and exercising more. It’s about the kinds of foods we eat. This is because our bodies process different foods in very different ways.
For example, if we ate 150 calories from an apple, our bodies would absorb it slower due to the fiber content. That means our blood sugar wouldn’t spike and would rise for longer. In contrast, our bodies would absorb 150 calories from soda very quickly. Processed in the liver, the soda would provide a big sugar rush that would trigger the pancreas to kick in, producing excess amounts of insulin. As the energy storage hormone, insulin turns sugar into fat.
Myth #3: Low-fat foods are better for you.
As one person says in the documentary: Junk is still junk, even if it’s less junky. Many low-fat foods contain as much or more sugar than their regular-fat counterparts. And all the hidden sugar in food these days starts to add up. Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics at UCSF, called sugar “poison” and a “toxin” and blames the increased amounts of sugar in our diets for the rise of obesity.
Shelby Pope writes, “The negative effects sugar has on our bodies are staggering: sugar alters our hormones so we don’t register hunger the way we normally would, making us eat more; it spikes our dopamine, requiring us to eat more sugar for the same effect; and it affects our liver in the same way that alcohol does.” And one Princeton study found that when mice were given a choice between cocaine or sugar-water, 94% chose the sugar!
Yikes! I knew too much sugar was bad for you, but not this bad!
The takeaway at the end is that we should focus on eating real, unprocessed foods and limiting our sugar intake. Which, of course, seems completely obvious, but still. I thought it was so interesting! As someone with a serious sweet tooth, I definitely need to work on quitting sugar. If you watched the movie, what were your thoughts? I’d love to hear.