Fooled by Food

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

There is so much confusion about what is good to eat and what isn’t that it’s really hard to keep up. Many people believe their diets are pristine, while consuming foods that are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” — foods that actually undermine their quest to achieve a healthy weight. From several sources, Childhood Obesity News has gathered tips that might inspire people to take a second look at their beliefs about various foods.

In a Readers Digest list of “27 Foods You Should Never Buy Again,” several examples apply to the realm of weight loss. Low-fat peanut butter, for instance. When the fat comes out, guess what goes in to make it taste OK? A bunch of sugar. There are many reasons to avoid processed, smoked, or cured meats, and chances are anyone visiting this blog has already said goodbye to them. But just in case, we are reminded that pork sausage can legally be composed of up to 50% fat.

Let’s mention “multi-grain” bread, which is called “junk food masquerading in a healthy disguise.” The author recommends just skipping the bread and eating brown rice, steel-cut oats, quinoa and barley. Gluten-free baked goods, if not exactly a scam, are the next-best thing to deception, according to this author:

If you aren’t diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, keep in mind that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy — and gluten-free baked goods like bread, cookies, and crackers often are packed with more refined flours, artificial ingredients, and sugar than traditional baked goods.

If the absence of gluten really is important, many weight-conscious cooks recommend bread made from almond flour, which avoids the problems of grain and carbohydrates while providing protein. Which brings us to what Dr. Julie TwoMoon believes is a common misunderstanding of nutritional truth, because many people believe that “You can eat as much protein as you want, just watch the carbohydrates.” TwoMoon warns that protein, while excellent and necessary, can be problematic because the human ability to process it stops after about 4 ounces of it per meal, and after that it’s converted into glucose, and from there into fat.

The Crunchies

Granola, which for some reason still retains a hold on people’s imaginations as some kind of ultimate health food, is nothing of the sort. Of course there are many ways to make granola — it’s kind of like soup in that respect. But a ball-park average calorie count for about ½ cup of it seems to be around 500 calories, and that’s before milk is added. About 150 or more of those calories could easily be from sugar, so read the label and beware of syrups, whether high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, or the innocent-sounding maple syrup.

Granola bars, aka energy bars, are just the same stuff glued together tighter. They have fat! They have sugar! They have calories! Dr. Christopher Mohr calls the energy bar a “carb-dense sugar bomb that offers very little in terms of sustainable energy or satiating protein.” Dr. Mohr also advises fish enthusiasts to stay away from Americanized interpretations of sushi, which contain a lot of hidden calories in the sauces. He says:

Instead stick with ‘sashimi,’ which is fish without rice and no sauces. Or if you want the rice, nigiri is the same piece of fish with just a bit of rice underneath. While you’re at it, stick to the better fish varieties like salmon, mackerel, and tuna — all rich in heart healthy omega-3 fats and protein.

Individual servings

It might seem like a good idea to buy little 100-calorie packages of snacks, but you’re probably kidding yourself, because you’ll just keep opening and eating one after another, meanwhile supporting the packaging industry in high style.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “27 Foods You Should Never Buy Again,”, undated
Source: “Dr. Julie’s Top 7 Misconceptions Of The Health Food Store World,”, 03/30/14
Source: “5 Foods You Think Are Healthy—But Aren’t,”, 02/27/14
Image by janwillemsen

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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