November 24, 2013

I just … um … yeah … wow.

Funny title for a blog post, I know. But I just came back from a trip to the supermarket and I’m not quite sure what to say. (I’d say I’m at a loss for words, but if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that’s never, ever been true.) I go to the supermarket often, but it’s been a while since I took my time, went up and down every aisle, and really surveyed the landscape. Even when I’m on the lookout for funny, shocking, and/or horrifying labels for the Label Madness Monday series, I usually come across plenty just in the normal course of my shopping. So it’s been a long time since I really, really scrutinized things. I knew it was a jungle out there, but it is so much worse than I imagined. I’m saddened. I’m heartbroken. And I’m absolutely furious.

If you think this is health food, YOU ARE WRONG.

I’m saddened that there are young women out there subsisting on this stuff, thinking they’re doing themselves a favor because it’s low-calorie and low-fat. (I know men buy these things too; I just usually picture a lot more women buying them because women tend to gravitate toward these products more than men. Yes, “products.” I cannot and will not call them “food.”) 

This is just one category by way of example. There were thousands more. The store was full of imitation eggs; imitation cream; imitation butter; soy products masquerading as meat and cheese; hydrogenated vegetable oils; fat-free (but sugar-loaded) yogurt; chocolate frosted cookies pretending to be breakfast cereal; skinless chicken; “natural” peanut butter that contained (naturally) sugar, molasses, and palm oil*; dough conditioners; artificial colorings; reduced fat cheese; skim milk; 20oz tropical fruit smoothies (in Virginia, in November); and more sugar-coated sugar than the Spanish conquistadores ever could’ve imagined in their wildest hyperglycemic dreams when their ships landed among the cane fields of the Caribbean. (*Note: I have nothing against palm oil, only against a company trying to hoodwink me into believing that peanuts naturally contain palm oil.)

I took a good look at these products, and then I took a good look at the aisles—yes, plural, aisles—of over-the-counter medication, keeping in mind that the pharmacy section at the back had its own separate zillion-dollar supply of drugs for what ails us.

Am I the only one making the connection between what was lining most of the shelves in the store and what lined the medication shelves? Drugs for arthritis, headaches, PMS, diarrhea, constipation (gotta cover those who go too much and those who can’t go at all), acid reflux, insomnia, weight loss, muscle aches, stomachaches, allergies, colds, coughs, flu, pills to wake us up and pills to help us sleep. Some stores now even have entire sections dedicated to “diabetes care.” That’s how prevalent the Big D-bomb has become. Just your run-of-the-mill grocery section. Y’know, laundry detergent, dairy, diabetes care.

Please, please tell me I’m not the only one who's connecting these dots. I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed. There is so much wrong with the huge, steaming pile of you-know-what I saw today that I hardly know how to dig out of it. There are so many things I want to write about and so many things I want to share, explain, and help people learn. Low-fat, no-cholesterol, ultra-pasteurized, vegetable oils, whole grains, egg whites, soy protein—we’ve got it wrong, folks. I want to do justice to all of these important issues, and more. They can’t be tackled properly in 200-word blurbs, and they sure as heck can’t be tackled in 140-character sound bites.

Bear with me as I make my way through these things over time. It’s easy to poke fun at labels and call it education, but there’s a lot more at stake here than I even realized. So much more.

We’ve been led away from foods mankind thrived on for thousands of years, and for our efforts, we’ve been rewarded with an astounding array of new illnesses to go with our new food landscape.

We subsist on chemical-laden, imitation foods, and we’ve created generations of chemical-laden, imitation people. The vast nutritional wasteland we’ve created has led to couples who can no longer conceive naturally and easily. And if they do conceive, we have children who are unable to sit still and learn, or to engage emotionally and interact with the world around them. We have women who are bedridden two to five days a month with incapacitating premenstrual pain. We have men who are unable to “perform” when they would like—and that’s not just the older men, but younger ones, too. We’ve got people—also younger and younger—who are losing their memories and their marbles. We’ve got people on so many different drugs they’re like walking, talking, living, breathing pharmacies: antacids, blood pressure meds, antidepressants, blood-sugar meds, statins, blood thinners, painkillers…from aspirin to Zoloft®, we’ve got ourselves covered from A to Z.

Earlier I said I was saddened, heartbroken, and furious. I’m saddened because people fall for this. I’m heartbroken because there are women who are desperate to conceive, but have grown up so terrified of being fat (and eating fat) that their bodies—overworking, undersleeping, overexercising, and subsisting on lettuce, fiber bars, rice cakes, skinless chicken breasts, and fat-free soy lattes—do not have the nutritional wherewithal to incubate a human life. And I’m furious because the boxes in the picture above are marketed as health food.

Y’know, I really don’t mind the overt junk. Junk that you know is junk, and that the advertisers aren’t trying to fool you into thinking is anything but junk. Want a chocolate glazed donut? Go ahead, have the donut. A bag of sour cream & onion chips? Knock yourself out. But when you think you’re getting something nutritious—something good for you—and what you’re actually getting is sugar-coated wheat & soy balls embalmed with corn syrup and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, that is what makes me furious. That is also why I do the label series.

I’m sorry about the negativity of this post. I was in such a dumbfounded daze when I left the store and I couldn’t keep it to myself. But there is hope. There are places we can shop to get real food. There are people raising their animals on pasture, letting their cows eat grass and their hens peck around for worms and grubs. There are restaurants that use lard in their fryers. And there are people growing and raising food near you, rather than on a distant continent.  

It's our choice:


...And these...

...And these...

...And these...

...Or these...

We can change this, folks. We can do better. Better for our health. For our wallets. For our children. For ourselves.

We’ve got to.

**Note: I do not have a financial relationship with the farm I’ve linked to in this post. (I’m just a satisfied local customer.)

Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition.


  1. Hmmm...Huge spike in views on this post today. What's up? Did someone post a link somewhere? Someone please let me know, so I can thank whoever it was.

  2. Hello, I just discovered your blogs today from a Keto Facebook group I am a part of. WOW such an eye opener! I am anxious to read more!

  3. Hi Amy
    Love your blog. I just discovered it via a LC group I'm part of. You're speaking my language. I'm motivated to comment on this post in particular because you mention palm oil in PB. I know, WTF, right??? I completely agree that it has no place in PB. However, I can't just leave it there. Palm oil use is just plain nasty all-round. We can't turn a blind eye to it, but rather must continue to lobby and demand as consumers an ending of its use. At the risk of really going off on one, I'll share this link instead.

    Cheers, Marti

  4. Hi Amy, I happened on your blog thanks to Sara Russell NTP Facebook page linking to this blog regarding the "cheat meal on Keto.... as I was curious about it. I have been reading about this keto diet and quite honestly I am somewhat skeptical about it. I do share your point of view and feelings about the "american eating guidelines diet" and all the poison they have led us to eat and brainwashed us into believing what is "healthy" etc. I also believe that we are all different and therefore we cannot follow the same diet. When I was younger I also followed the calorie restriction diets which only led to gain more weight after, so I learned to eat everything I wanted, as long as it was in moderation and fresh as possible. I am fortunate now to live in the countryside and are able to buy local cheese from grass fed animals and fresh eggs. We also are blessed with flours made with local grains etc. The problem for me with all this Keto and Paleo is that I do not eat meat, so my "protein" source is mainly from cheese, eggs, occasionally seafood (mainly shell fish). I do eat healthy fats, such as butter and coconut oil and eat a lot of nuts. Being 60 though and menopausal my metabolism has slowed down and I have gained weight (mind you that I have never been a thin person but was able to keep my weight stable for years even as a pescatarian). So, how is one supposed to follow a Keto diet when one does not eat meat or meat fats? Thanks again for your posts and hopefully more people will finally see the truth about all this food deception.

    1. Hi Anto,
      It's no problem to do a low carbohydrate diet without meat. The main thing is to eliminate most sugar and starch from your diet. Use eggs, seafood, dairy, non-starchy vegetables. Do you consume poultry? I would recommend including it in your diet if you are not opposed to it. (I don't know if by "meat," you mean only read meat, or also poultry and pork.) You might also do just fine with lentils and other beans & legumes as a protein source, even though they're higher in carbohydrates. Depends on how sensitive you are to that. You don't have to be "keto" in order to follow a low carbohydrate diet. Make sure you get enough protein, eat non-starchy vegetables (as opposed to potatoes, corn, peas), and get fats from avocado, coconut, dairy products, nuts & seeds, eggs, and seafood. (And poultry, if you're willing to add that to your diet.)

      Look online -- there are several Facebook and Reddit groups for vegetarian low carb and keto. They'll have great recipes and strategies for you.

    2. I just re-read your comment, and if you are struggling to lose fat, I would recommend eating slightly less fat and more protein. That will be difficult if you don't eat more seafood. Don't do just shellfish -- consider salmon, sardines, mackerel...loaded with nutrients, and very convenient and budget-friendly if you buy canned. And since you do eggs, maybe eat more eggs. Fabulous source of protein, fat, and nutrients.

      If you don't want to reintroduce meat or poultry into your diet, consider cottage cheese as a good source of protein. I just think this is huge for you -- you probably need more protein and possibly a bit less fat. (Those dairy fats add up quickly...butter, cheese, cream. They're totally fine to consume on a low-carb diet. It's just that if you're having a hard time with fat loss, specifically, be careful of how much of that you have, because it *is* possibly to eat too much fat on a low carb or ketogenic diet if your goal is to lose a little bit of body fat.) Cottage cheese will give you more protein with less fat than regular cheeses.

  5. Amy, thank you so so much for replying. I do not eat poultry. When I lived in California I ate more salmon as I could get the alaskan wild caught, unfortunately here in Italy the salmon is not the same and that is why I limit to shellfish but only 2-3 a month. Same with the cottage cheese, which is hard to find here, but I do eat goat cheese, ricotta cheese besides the other cheeses. I love all legumes and eat them regularly as I have no issues with them. I could never limit carbs as I love pasta and bread and potatoes, so I guess I need to cut back on them and add more eggs and sardines. Thanks again. Great posts!