A quick search of the internet shows that obesity is still on the rise, especially in our children. Schools are eliminating P.E. in an attempt to save money and the adults are too tired and too stressed to exercise. Fast food is cheap (although incredibly unhealthy) and sugary coffee and caffeinated drinks are consumed at an all time high. In an attempt to clean up and become healthier, we are noticing our patients are consuming more organic foods; however, an odd phenomenon is happening…they are still gaining weight.
In our clinic, we do quite a bit of nutritional counseling and dietary overhauls. Sometimes that includes food intolerance testing which involves a blood test to see which foods activate the delayed response part of your immune system, called a ‘sensitivity.’ For example, celiac disease is a gluten allergy while a gluten sensitivity/intolerance can be different. If someone has a sensitivity, we often recommend they avoid those particular foods. In keeping with my example, this may require a gluten free diet. I find that I have to remind people, gluten free does not mean calorie free. In the same accord, dairy free, soy free, trans-fat free, sugar free, fat-free, and organic foods are also not calorie free.
New research is developing as others have recognized this behavior. Somehow, Americans perceive organic food as having fewer calories or not contributing to weight gain, yet it’s obviously not the case. If you have the choice between non-organic tortilla chips or organic tortilla chips – the calories and fat are the same. If you have your choice between a regular sandwich cookie or a gluten free sandwich cookie- the calories and fat are still the same.
I absolutely want Americans to eat healthier, choose organic, eliminate their food sensitivities and exercise, but I caution against over-eating because it’s perceived healthier. Additionally, I advise if you didn’t use to eat certain foods before (chips, cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream) please don’t start now just because you are cleaning up your diet or making changes to the way you eat.