Day 21 of My Whole Foods Challenge: Taking Nutrition Advice from a Fat Girl

A recent Facebook conversation happened recently on my feed. A young woman from my ward took a picture of herself drinking a shake from one of those companies (Shakeology, Herbalife, something along those lines). She jokingly corrected a friend about “not telling her that a healthy cookies and cream shake existed.” Since I commented, “there’s no such thing,” I got to follow the thread for the next few comments were people said things like, “this company makes them!” and “oh, I need to lose some weight, can you tell me who makes these so I can shed some pounds for a June Wedding?”

Being me, I decided to look up what is exactly in these “healthy” milkshakes.

I found that they are packed with some vitamins. I found that it also has a bunch of misleading advertisement, too. For example, the shakes contain something called inulin, which is a type of digestible fiber. If we put aside that it is found in many foods and can just be part of your intake from those (this includes whole wheat), there is some research that says when it is added artificially to things like this shake that the body does not readily absorb it. It’s not going to hurt you by any means, but it’s just one example of a company using a buzzword that isn’t well understood even in the scientific community.

Still, you might think that these milkshakes are still better than your average bear. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the second ingredient is fructose. Fructose is a sugar that occurs naturally in fruit, but it is still sugar, and there is way more of it in a couple of scoops of a Herbalife shake than there is in as much fruit as you would eat in a single day. Pair that with the fact that the ninth ingredient is just plain ol’ sugar and there’s even some good ol’ fashioned sucralose (which goes mostly to fat when consumed) along with some honey powder. And they’re marketing this drink as a meal replacement. A meal replacement that’s almost half sugar…but only 90 calories! 

Ugh. Newsflash: if you’re drinking 90 calories (plus the calories of your nonfat milk…but you can do it with just water, too, which means it’s still 90 calories) for an entire meal, you’re going to lose weight because you’re starving yourself. 

I haven’t even mentioned that the third ingredient is a form of dextrose, which is derived from corn…and is a synthetic form of GLUCOSE…yet another sugar. If you don’t believe me, here’s a PDF of the label off Herbalife’s website.

But here I am, with all of my  knowledge and ability to read labels…reading this thread…knowing I cannot comment because I am desperately fat and they are all desperately skinny. 

Listen, I get it. You look at someone like me and it’s like insta-judge. I don’t blame anyone. So when I start saying things like, “sugar is evil!”, it’s hard to believe me. I’m the one on the sugar-free diet, and I’m the one that’s 150 pounds overweight. It makes sense that you would want to instantly discredit what I say and what I believe about nutrition. And I get that you look at those chicks who’ve lost 15 pounds drinking sugar that tastes delicious and you go, yeah…I’m going to do that. 

Anecdotal evidence is a powerful thing, and it’s a powerful tool that even companies I like use to their advantage. but anecdotal evidence, by definition, has no basis in science and is NOT researched in any which way. It may have some truth to it, but it is not, in fact, fact. 

 But many of us succumb to believing that fat people just aren’t as healthy as skinny ones. Even me, being an overweight lady, feels that way sometimes. I know I’m doing right by my body – day 21 is just as good as day 1 – but I’m still large, and that makes me feel bad about myself. But why should I? Because I would survive the zombie apocalypse? Because extra weight doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy? Because I know that fat (the kind you eat) isn’t necessarily bad for you, and isn’t what made me fat in the first place? 

No. Because I don’t look good in clothing, and don’t get as many smiles as a woman who is thin and considered beautiful in the traditional meaning of the word. And someone who is not traditionally gorgeous obviously knows nothing about nutrition, even though above I have linked nine different accredited studies and sources above and could probably link a hundred more.

So why didn’t you click on them? Why are you still drinking your Herbalife shake? Is it because I’m fat?

Probably not. It’s probably because most people don’t click the links and read the research. I mean, that’s usually the reason I don’t click all the links. 

Anyway, rant over. Sometimes being overweight is a drag, and not only because no one listens to you about sugar, either. Hopefully you’ll listen this time, though, and go click some links above. 

I know how my challenge is going shouldn’t be an afterthought, but it is this time! It goes well. Everything is fine. We do have an occasional slip up (I suddenly noticed my bacon had sugar in it one day, and another day I ate a quarter sized sugar cookie), but overall I am very pleased. Hopefully next week I can report not only good findings, but I’ll have a nice recipe for you, too. 


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