I love food.
So when I discovered the FLAT BELLY DIET back in June 2011, I was thrilled, because it offered yummy foods (including chocolate and sweets) and it worked! (Read about the 4 Day Jump Start)
But as with most "diets" - I fell off the wagon. Number one reason was the cost. It was so expensive to buy the recommended foods and ingredients. I kept saying I wanted to give it another try, but then I discovered some troubling truths about the foods recommended by this diet.
Silly me, two years ago I had bought right into what they were selling.
From page viii of the introduction:
"Said David L. Katz, MD, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, who helped oversee the research, 'If the plan were sustained, these women would be at reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, you name it. Basically, the diet kicked butt--or, perhaps more appropriately in the this case, belly!'"
And maybe that's true, but if you eat certain recommended foods in this diet plan, you may find yourself with other health issues to worry about, like: inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, immune system damage, incontinence, liver disease, and more (source links below).
One of the food brands I fell in love with because of the FLAT BELLY DIET was Kashi. Imagine my disappointment and surprise when I learned that they are owned by Kellogg's (who has lobbied against GMO labeling requirements), and they use GMOs in their products. So sad!
"There is an established misconception among consumers that natural or even organic labeling means more nutritious and less toxic ingredients. This is not always the case and breakfast cereals are no exception. The Kashi brand is owned by Kellogg Company, one of the largest breakfast cereal makers in the world. The ownership base of Kashi is still not widely recognized or common knowledge, especially since the Kashi website continues to paint a picture of being a small company. Investigations into Kashi cereals show deceiving claims after their breakfast products were found to be riddled with genetically modified (GM) and pesticide loaded ingredients." (source)
Now, to Kashi's defense. They state on their website: "The Kellogg Company acquires Kashi [in 2000] allowing us greater distribution of our natural foods and giving us greater reach on our mission to nourish people and planet" (source)
But to paint your company as simple and natural and then use GM ingredients ... that's not okay! (And yes, I understand that there are a gazillion companies out there doing it - but that still doesn't make it okay!)
The Kashi website says that you can love the nutrition in their waffles, but the ingredients list on the very same page lists yellow corn meal, soy lecithin, and canola oil. Think these are no big deal? Each are genetically modified items.
"90% of the canola oil in the United States is GMO." (source)
Commonly found in chocolate (even the healthier dark versions). It is also found in bread, herbal teas, and cosmetics (just to name a few items.) What is it?
Soy Lecithin = SLUDGE
"Soybean lecithin comes from sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a "degumming" process. It is a waste product containing solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid. Before being bleached to a more appealing light yellow, the color of lecithin ranges from a dirty tan to reddish brown. The hexane extraction process commonly used in soybean oil manufacture today yields less lecithin than the older ethanol-benzol process, but produces a more marketable lecithin with better color, reduced odor and less bitter flavor.
"Historian William Shurtleff reports that the expansion of the soybean crushing and soy oil refining industries in Europe after 1908 led to a problem disposing the increasing amounts of fermenting, foul-smelling sludge. German companies then decided to vacuum dry the sludge, patent the process and sell it as "soybean lecithin." Scientists hired to find some use for the substance cooked up more than a thousand new uses by 1939." (source)
Why would we put that into our bodies? Oh ... yeah ... because we like smooth, creamy chocolate.
Well here are some brands (and there are more out there) that offer organic, non-GMO, chocolate with no soy lecithin (but you still have to read the labels, because some brands offer multiple types with various ingredients):
From the above list, I've only tried Trader Joe's so far. Please, let me know if you've tried the others and what you think of them.
Corn (and its byproducts)
"88% of U.S. corn [is] now being genetically engineered" (source)
You ask, "So what?"
Genetically modified and engineered foods are making us sick! (source) and (source) Animals die when they eat the food. Farm workers have gotten sick when they tend the crops. There are reasons why European countries are banning the GM crops coming out of the U.S. (source) but ... the United States is a powerful country. How long do you think these other countries can avoid trading with the U.S.?
When I first read about Agave Nectar (often touted as 100% pure organic agave nectar), I was excited. My husband and I thought we'd found a natural alternative to refined sugar.
Agave Nectar is a refined sweetener compared by many sources to be on the same level as High Fructose Corn Syrup. You'd be better off swirling some organic honey from your local farmer on top of that waffle than using Agave Nectar.
Agave is "a manmade sweetener which has been through a complicated chemical refining process of enzymatic digestion, which converts the starch and fiber into the unbound, manmade chemical fructose. While high fructose agave syrup won’t spike your blood glucose levels, the fructose in it may cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity." (source)
"The bottom line is that refined agave sweeteners are not inherently healthier than sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other sweetener. Nutritionally and functionally, agave syrup is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose (Karo) syrup." (source)
So is the FLAT BELLY DIET evil?
Will I ever utilize it again as a resource? Probably.
Why? Because even after all of this research, I choose to believe that the people behind the FLAT BELLY DIET were well-intentioned. I think they just missed the mark on certain things.
On page 35 it reads, "Try to avoid artificial anything (colors, flavors, preservatives); instead pick whole foods as often as possible and look for foods with ingredients you can easily recognize and pronounce."
And ... maybe all of you are much smarter than I am, and you already knew these things ... but just in case you didn't know, I felt the need to share what I've learned. I am still learning.
Bottom line is we are all responsible for seeking out our own knowledge and then utilizing that knowledge. We need to choose what is best for ourselves and our families.
But we also need to support non-GMO companies, and we need to push our representatives for proper GMO labeling. Because right now, you can read all the labels you want to, but if you don't KNOW for yourself that over 80% of all corn products are genetically modified and if you don't know what soy lecithin is ... it won't do you any good to read the labels.
What do you think?
Should genetically modified foods be labeled as such?
For more information check out the following links: