Mini-Pledge Week 6: No Low-Fat, Lite or Nonfat Food Products

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Yes, you read that right. Next week’s mini-pledge is to avoid all low-fat, lite/light, and nonfat food products. And if my prediction is correct there are quite a few of you who need some explanation on why low-fat products are not considered to be “real food” or – yes, I am going to say it – ”healthy.” When I first learned that the whole low-fat campaign was pretty much a hoax I was absolutely shocked as well. For years I was right there on that bandwagon bingeing on everything from low-fat Snackwells cookies to fat-free flavored yogurt to low-fat ice cream. And as it turns out, according to Michael Pollan, “We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products.”

So here is next week’s pledge that officially starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 6: April 18 – April 24 – Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”

Here’s a direct quote from Pollan’s book Food Rules that explains it all:

The forty-year-old campaign to create low-fat and nonfat versions of traditional foods has been a failure: We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products. Why? Because removing the fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor … You’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than bingeing on “lite” food products packed with sugars and salt.

Another New York Times bestselling author, Mark Bittman, agrees in his book Food Matters. He says, “The low-fat craze caused millions, maybe tens of millions, of Americans actually to gain weight, because they were reaching for ‘low-fat’ but high-calorie carbs.” And right on cue directly from Pollan’s In Defense of Food:

At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, Hold on just a minute. Are you really saying the whole low-fat deal was bogus? But my supermarket is still packed with low-fat this and no-cholesterol that! My doctor is still on me about my cholesterol and telling me to switch to low-fat everything. I was flabbergasted at the news too, because no one in charge – not in government, not in the public health community – has dared to come out and announce: Um, you know everything we’ve been telling you for the last thirty years about the links between dietary fat and heart disease? And fat and cancer? And fat and fat? Well, this just in: It now appears that none of it was true. We sincerely regret the error.

So let’s put the low-fat craze behind us and move forward by embracing the right portions of real food and real food only. No more faked low-fat products where according to Pollan, “fats in things like sour cream and yogurt [are] replaced with hydrogenated oils” and “the cream in ‘whipped cream’ and ‘coffee creamer’ [are] replaced with corn starch.” And just to be clear this pledge applies to all reduced fat products including milk. When the fat is removed from dairy products like milk some of the beneficial nutrients are lost with the fat as well. We just recently switched to whole milk ourselves, and I was honestly a little scared. I drank skim milk up until last year after all! But along with reducing our overall consumption of milk it has actually been a surprisingly smooth transition for us. And after learning the shocking truth behind what we’ve been told for so many years…I’ve never looked at another low-fat product the same again.

To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and kids in your household that will participate, and also share if you will do it for one day or for the entire week. Put it in writing and make it official!

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265 comments to Mini-Pledge Week 6: No Low-Fat, Lite or Nonfat Food Products

  • Carol

    I just stumbled across your page and am a little overwhelmed by all the information. I buy a lot of organic, but am a little nervous about making the switch to full fat products, because I recently found out that I have high cholesterol. I have also tested positive for rheumatoid arthritis and am learning about the inflammation link to heart issues. All this to say I am not sure which switches to my diet would be best for me

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Carol. It is important to follow a physicians advice if you are experiencing medical problems. If you are looking for advice specific to an anti-inflammation diet, you might seek the advice of a doctor that practices integrative medicine because they incorporate a lot nutrition and prevention into their approach. There is a lot of good (and bad) info our online, as well. You might take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil’s site. He does a lot of anti-inflammation work. You can still eat completely real, but you might have to adjust the rules a bit to meet your needs. :) ~Amy

    • Vaughn

      I’d like to temper Amy’s advice on following your doctor’s recommendations with the caveat that “most” western physicians are not knowledgeable about nutrition or natural ways of improving health. Our healthcare system is currently designed to treat disease processes…in other words to treat symptoms–not to maintain health. Most physicians will spout the same advice you hear from the food manufacturers, which is contrary to what is required to maintain health. So please do some research on your own about macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) and about natural approaches to health.

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

        Vaughn, I agree which is why I suggested finding a doctor who practices integrative medicine because they take a more holistic approach to “treating” patients. They focus much more on prevention and nutrition. I am also a big fan of naturopaths. :)

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  • Linda Becker

    There is just one person in my household. I have MS and am trying to find a way to eat healthier and hopefully that will provide my body with the right kinds of foods to help with MS fatigue. It is difficult to fix meals for one person but I am willing to give it a try. Right now I eat out almost every day at least one meal. I don’t have any control of what is going into the meals that I am eating. I am sure there is too much salt and who knows what else!
    I am willing to make a 6 week pledge.
    Thank you!

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