Rage Against the Diet Industry #1: Fat

I’m so fed up with diet advice. I’m tired of people and companies peddling their solution to the spare tire around my waist. And I’m tired of the media hawking nutrition/health related news with fear tactics. 

In the spirit of being fed up, I’m going to rage against some of the more ridiculousness assertions of the diet industry and hopefully supply a little reason.


First up: Fat

I’m talking about the fat in our foods, the stuff we ingest on a daily basis. A macronutrient that has been deemed evil by the majority of American’s thanks to the American Heart Association recommending low-fat, high-carb diets, and the media propagating the recommendation without a modicum of sense.

Enter the hysteria. 

American’s began shunning anything bearing fat grams and opted instead for the newly minted low-fat varieties of foods hitting the grocery store shelves. I remember this gaining steam in the mid 90’s because I was an influential teenager and thought my body needed a massive overhaul. I heard the “fat is bad” message and jumped on the bandwagon, enjoying some success in weight loss, but feeling incredibly hungry and unsatisfied in the process.

What the media failed to mention was that dietary fat is a healthy necessity to our daily functioning. According to the Mayo Clinic fat does the following for our bodies:


Your body needs fat to function properly. Besides being an energy source, fat is a nutrient used in the production of cell membranes, as well as in several hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids. These compounds help regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting and the nervous system. In addition, dietary fat carries fat-soluble vitamins — vitamins A, D, E and K — from your food into your body. Fat also helps maintain healthy hair and skin, protects vital organs, keeps your body insulated, and provides a sense of fullness after meals.


So instead of consuming foods with fats that could benefit my body, I ended up consuming half a box of Snackwell Chocolate Chip cookies or some Twizzler Nibs. They were, after all, low fat, ergo they must be good for me (yeah, half a box of snackwells wasn’t a good idea, but they were low-fat when fat was the reigning dietary evil of the day . . . I was trendy). 

Lately we’ve been seeing more research (thus more news) advocating the benefits of fat but the message isn’t sinking in. I personally blame the diet industry’s continued propagation of the “fat is bad” myth. I especially have an attitude towards Weight Watchers for this continued notion, specifically in connection with their Points System that uses fat content as one of the factors in determining the point value of a food. 

I hear people in my office discussing “Points” ad nauseam and shunning healthy foods that have a higher fat content. I take issue with a system that is set up to sway people away from avocados and nuts and various healthy oils in favor of a nutritionally inferior weight watchers brownie. 

And no matter what you say Weight Watchers, you’re a diet plan. You’re selling weight loss propaganda and reaping a nice profit from it. You’re a cog in the diet industry same as Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem and Atkins and Dr. Phil. 

Unfortunately, a lot of people who jump on your bandwagon become nuttier and more illogical about food than they ever were. And when they fail, it’s their fault for not adhering flawlessly. You can’t possibly be blamed for selling them sugar laden, nutritionally deficient 2 pt candy bars. (To be fair though, I think you’re on the right track with your Core System. I have to give you props there).


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