Before we begin… we have a little business to tend to:

As A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss spends a day celebrating the life of an icon, I’m going to take some time to echo the late great Michael Jackson’s words:

“Tired of injustice, tired of the schemes, kind of disgusted, so what does this mean? Kickin’ me down, I’ve got to get up… As jacked as it sounds, the whole system sucks….With such confusions, don’t it make you wanna scream?”

She mad, he mad, I'm mad... you mad?

Now that I’m all fired up… let’s get down to business, shall we?

There are a few things that I hear, when people ask me questions about food, that are all too common. We all, when confronted with information that forces us to change how we address food… we push back a little. I mean, I live this way for a reason! And I deserve to present my reasons to you before I just give up my way of life, right? That’s to be expected. No one should just blindly follow anyone when it comes to nutrition, but I often wonder – do we think about where we got our own philosophies about food? I think some of us might be surprised if we really traced them as far back as they go.

Having said that, here are a few food myths that make me wanna scream. [insert obligatory crotch grabbing here]

“If it’s so bad for you, why does the government allow it to be sold?”

Contrary to popular belief, the FDA doesn’t really have the power to tell someone to stop selling something. I know, I know, the next line is always “But they’re the government – they can do anything.” The government tries to keep its hands out of food production as far as imposing limitations because of three reasons:

  1. Telling people they cannot sell something limits capitalism. You’re essentially cutting off a potential industry for people to make money, thus limiting the amount of taxable income floating around, thus, thus, thus.. they’d be out of bounds.
  2. The FDA’s purpose is to ensure that there is food accessible to the public. That’s it. Determining the quality of the food.. mehhhh, they’re not interested in that.
  3. Since “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” includes allowing me to make choices for myself (be they healthy or not), the FDA would be overstepping its bounds by preventing me from “enjoying what I like, even if in moderation.” (And, really – considering how many poor decisions the FDA and the USDA have made regarding food in the last, oh, 30-40 years… I want to be able to make my own informed decisions.)

Realistically speaking, the most that the FDA can do is issue press releases and conferences telling you how certain ingredients are absolutely harmful (see: trans fat), but they cannot keep companies from using those same harmful ingredients in foods (see: yes, trans fat.) We are supposed to make those decisions for ourselves, even though there are people who work hard to ensure we never get the information necessary to make informed decisions.

“I can eat this TV dinner. It’s healthy.”/”I can buy this – it says low-fat/low cholesterol/real blueberries!”

One of my favorite lines from a book goes as follows: “If it has a “healthy claim” on the label, chances are it’s the last thing you want to buy for better health.”

I know that I’ve written this before, but I’m always tickled by food in grocery aisles that says “Look at me! I’m made with real food!” Well, shouldn’t you be? I mean, you are food, aren’t you? Why on Earth would you not be made of real food?

If you are in pursuit of better health, the best options for you are foods that can’t talk to you through pretty labels – your fruits and vegetables. Your beans and nuts. Even your juices and berries. Don’t get suckered by claims on pretty – or, not so pretty – boxes. Especially when you consider what’s hiding behind that label. It’s not worth the money, the fleeting joy or your health.

“Ugh, I can’t stand her – she can eat anything she wants.”

Um, naw – she can’t.

I know that when people say this, the full sentence sounds more like “…she can eat anything she wants and not gain weight.” But really, no one can “eat anything they want and still avoid some kind of consequence. It’s just not possible.

Firstly, a lifestyle that consists of “eating whatever you want” will bite you in the tail eventually. ALWAYS. Why? Our metabolism decreases by approximately 0.5% every year. Think about that. Every ten years, we lose five percent of our ability to metabolize food properly. If I, at age 17, develop a habit of eating whatever I like without ever learning proper nutrition, by the time I’m 22 – after college and the dreaded freshman 15 – I have bad habits, excess unnecessary weight and a decreasing ability to deal with my bad habits. It goes downhill from there.

No matter how much one may workout to burn off excess calories, the fact remains that we may not always have that time to devote to getting in some extra time on the treadmill. That’s why it’s so important to have our eating habits in check. If you never have the extra calories to begin with, you don’t have to struggle so much with feeling forced to burn it off.(Hence, why calorie counting is so important.)

I probably could’ve shortened this entirely with just one sentence, but then I couldn’t rock out with the awesome video at the beginning. But really, if there is only one take away from this, let it be this:

“Focus on you and your eating habits, don’t let anyone’s health claims or supposed “responsibility” guide your lifestyle.” Your body will reward you over and over again for it. 🙂