How the new “healthy” will call out fad diet scams
The FDA proposes a change to the definition of “healthy” after over two decades, setting new labeling guidelines and (eventually) causing chaos.
Working closely in the nutrition news space means staying up-to-date on all of the latest stories, and for the past two weeks, the nutrition world was buzzing about the FDA’s new proposal for defining a “healthy” food.
If you didn’t hear the news, here’s a summary: On Sept. 28, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed an update to the current definition of healthy, stating that a “healthy” food must limit total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium while also providing at least 10% of the daily value for one or more of the following nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein, and fiber. This new rule is in line with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans which states that Americans need more of certain nutrients, and less of others. Plus, to meet the guideline, a “healthy” food will need to contain at least one or more of the following food groups: fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods.
If you haven’t already picked up on it, food labels can be rather sneaky. While the nutrition label on the back of an item is honest, corporations can get crafty with how they advertise their products with the front label. Using catchy words like “natural” and “low carb” can place the food under the guise that it is healthy, convincing a customer to buy it. Even peanut butter labels can be tricky — did you know that peanut butter that contains less than 90% of peanuts actually can’t be labeled as a true peanut butter? If it contains more of any other ingredients (like oils) it’s considered a “peanut butter spread.” Makes you think differently about Jif versus Justin’s, huh?
As I said, you can advertise that your product is healthy, but the nutrition label doesn’t lie. And now, thanks to the potential change from the FDA, consumers can have a better picture of what “healthy” actually looks like when they purchase.
Fad diets make for easy label advertising. But that doesn’t mean a product is “healthy.”
Now, not everyone is a nutrition label nerd like myself. People want quick and easy, so if they are being told that a product is healthy for them, they will buy it. Recent research shows that 60% of consumers are actively seeking products to benefit their overall health, but only 9% of consumers can correctly identify a healthy choice.
Let’s take a look at keto products, for example. The keto diet promotes weight loss by encouraging consumers to restrict carbohydrates so their bodies enter “ketosis” where your body will burn fat for energy instead of glucose. Dieters will eat foods high in fat and low in carbs, which include foods like meat, cheese, eggs, heavy cream, and more. A majority of keto products are high in saturated fat, and the American Heart Association says eating too much saturated fat can raise your LDL “bad” cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The FDA puts this into perspective by reporting that 77% of Americans are exceeding their daily limit of saturated fat.
So while a product can say “keto” on it, or some other buzzword that seems healthy, it doesn’t mean that the FDA will approve of calling it “healthy” on the label.
Mind you, I am a big fan of people eating whatever food they want. I am a person who loves eating nutritious foods, and I love eating all of my favorite comfort foods. I love salad, and I love ice cream. I love homemade roasted vegetables, and I love drive-thru french fries.
And yet, I find myself constantly getting sucked into whatever marketing scheme a particular diet or company will advertise, mostly from so-called “healthy” corporations as well. Brands and companies have gotten so clever with advertising, turning average consumers into followers and customers, all thanks to a spectacularly marketed product that isn’t actually that healthy after all.
If anything, these proposed guidelines will help us become thoughtful consumers. It will give us a better picture of understanding if a food is actually healthy, rather than following some kind of fad-diet trend that seems like the new magical fix to all of our health problems.
grab a fork!
Eh, more like a spoon. I wanted to share a recent invention of mine: Spicy Buttercauli Soup! It’s half butternut squash, half cauliflower soup. It’s perfect for the lactose-free b*tches like myself, and it’s all made right in your Instant Pot.
Here’s how to make it:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cups butternut squash, cubed*
2 cups cauliflower florets*
1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Dash of ground ginger
4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 can of coconut milk
Pumpkin seeds, optional
*Hot tip! Buy these in frozen bags and just dump them in. So much easier!
Set your Instant Pot to the Sauté feature. Warm up your olive oil in the pot.
Add the garlic for 30 seconds and cook until fragrant.
Add the onion and jalapeño pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.
Add the carrots, celery, butternut squash, and cauliflower florets. Sprinkle in the yellow curry powder, salt, pepper, and ground ginger. Stir to combine.
Pour in the stock, then seal the Instant Pot lid. Select Pressure Cook (or the manual setting) and cook on high for 8 minutes. The Instant Pot will come to pressure, then cook for that time.
Once finished, quick release the pressure using the valve and remove the lid.
Stir in the coconut milk. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and a slice of sourdough bread, if desired!
I know it’s been a while since I shared my latest clips! Sorry about that — I’ve definitely reassembled a chicken with its head cut off the past few weeks. Running my new business and all. 🤪 Here are some of my latest, if you want a little more to read this weekend:
This Surprising Vegetable Has More Potassium Than a Banana (Clean Plates)
The 8 Best Gut Healthy Foods To Eat, Says Gastroenterologist (Clean Plates)
6 Expert-Approved Tricks for Handling Your Stress (Clean Plates)