3 Food Myths That Make Me Wanna Scream | A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

3 Food Myths That Make Me Wanna Scream

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

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. :)

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

16 Comments

  1. kim

    August 6, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    what are some of your favorite meals/recipes that you used lose weight? I’m looking for something easy but flavorful. I’m from the south so I’m used to soul food. I said flavorful but I mean really good that my children would ask for it.

  2. Michelle of Chellbellz

    May 6, 2011 at 7:17 PM

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

    Excerpted from 3 Food Myths That Make Me Wanna Scream | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

    So people never heard of Cigs? Thats all i will say about that!

  3. Jacqueline

    May 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Hmmmm… I also eat whatever I like & hardly gain weight – it’s because what I like does NOT include ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate, huge burgers, large portions, cupcakes, muffins, etc etc. I like fruit, I like veg, I like grilled fish, and so on….As I’ve gotten older, my stomach likes less food and smaller portions. I think that when people say that, they assume that the person they are talking about likes the same unhealthy crap in the same gigantic portions as they do.

    • Asia

      November 13, 2011 at 6:06 PM

      True and good point. This is is true for you though

      But there are people with much faster metabolisms who do indeed eat more on the junk food spectrum and in gigantic portions and dont gain as much weight as others.

      I have a few in my family that way.

      However, as the article states, there are indeed consequences, high cholesterol and high blood pressure to name a few, even though they are not obese.

    • Carlene

      June 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      That is the truth. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. Melissa

    June 25, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    As always, thanks for this! I needed the reminder!

  5. Catherine

    August 27, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    This so much sense (I always got mad at them for Canola Oil). However, I thought that the FDA approved food as safe or not or is that the USDA?

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      August 27, 2011 at 7:25 PM

      The FDA marks food as GRAS, or “generally regarded as safe,” which basically means they don’t believe it will kill you, not that it won’t cause some other OTHER stuff to go wrong in your body. That’s it. I want to say this might’ve changed this year, but I don’t think so.

  6. Tasha

    March 19, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    This is a disappointment but I’m glad to know truth. I buy caged free eggs labeled “FDA” or usda approved.

  7. Sam

    February 20, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    The truth really is that what she actually wants to eat differs greatly from what YOU may want to eat. She can eat whatever she wants because she also wants to keep her figure and stay healthy, so she wants to eat (mostly) good, real food and not food-like substances.

  8. Tina

    February 25, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    Even if someone can forever eat what she wants and not gain, eating garbage makes garbage cells, causes inflammation and WILL lead to disease.

    • junglebabe

      March 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      caveat. doesn’t “cage free” just mean they had to let the chickens run free for only 10 minutes a day?

  9. K-T

    June 10, 2013 at 7:13 AM

    Erika, another myth ( one i am guilty of believing) is that breakfast speeds your metabolism. I actually do best on one meal a day!

  10. Elle

    October 20, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    I love the “she can eat whatever she wants and not gain weight”. I know friends and family that are rly thin and they can eat fried foods all the time and just pig out. Some people just have those body types, but yep, people get bitter bc other people can eat crap and be small but they have no idea what is happening on the inside.

    My aunt is kind of like this. She was small her whole life until a couple years ago. Her highest weight was maybe 175 and she decided she needed to lose weight and lost 40 pounds. But she has gout and I know there are other health problems to still come. She didn’t drink water until 5 years ago (she’s almost 40)… And still now, to keep trim, she’ll drink one smoothie during the day and then a plate of fried foods later. So yeah, not many calories it seems but most from sugar and fat. And don’t even mention vegetables, like a child she refuses them. She lost weight by only drinking smoothies and eating steak and potatoes. It’s pretty wild, but whenever I mention her gout, she just doesn’t care because she’s happy as long as the outside looks good.

  11. Mark

    February 8, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    As far as food goes and the labels on the front of the box/packaging it’s pretty much all marketing, companies have figured out how to make the product seem healthy, but once you read the nutrition labels you start to realize that this is something that is full of empty calories.

    The best way to start eating healthy is to focus on unprocessed food like brown rice, lean meat (chicken breasts, beef, fish fillet etc), fresh vegetables and fruits. Plus you can never go wrong with oatmeal. Unless you realize that you are responsible for your own health you will stay overweight, unhealthy and will have terrible health problems in the long run.

    Also if you love to cook and know how to cook then there are unlimited possibilities to make plain rice and chicken in to something special that even kids will crave that. I personally am a terrible cook, but I do make an amazing omelette. :)

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