Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 4th Myth of Modern Day Dieting: You Shouldn't Eat Unless You're Hungry

A few weeks ago I shot some short videos in my office covering the 13 myths of modern day dieting that I wrote about in The Diet Fix. Believing in these myths can break anyone's weight management efforts. Over the coming days I'll be publishing them online.

For those who struggle with dietary control I can't imagine a more dangerous piece of advice than, "you should wait until you're hungry to eat". Hunger influences choice. Shop at the supermarket hungry and you'll see that influence in action. Sit down to a meal hungry and while you're not shopping from an aisle, instead you'll be shopping from your fridge, cupboard, plate or a menu and no doubt, your choices will be different. On the other hand, organize your eating so that you're not hungry, and then you've got a shot, as "willpower", when it comes to dietary choice, is often simply the absence of hunger.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The 3rd Myth of Modern Day Dieting: Dieting Must Be Difficult

A few weeks ago I shot some short videos in my office covering the 13 myths of modern day dieting that I wrote about in The Diet Fix. Believing in these myths can break anyone's weight management efforts. Over the coming days I'll be publishing them online.

Simply put, weight lost through suffering comes back. While there's no doubt that weight management and healthful living require effort, if the efforts required include regularly facing off with hunger, blindly denying yourself foods you enjoy, or following a dietary regime that doesn't fit your tastes, they're not going to last.

Whatever program or diet you undertake, the most important predictor of your likelihood of long-term success is being able to answer, "yes" to the question, "could you happily live this way for the rest of your life", with the key word there being, "happily".

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The 2nd Myth of Modern Day Dieting: Scales Measure Health

A few weeks ago I shot some short videos in my office covering the 13 myths of modern day dieting that I wrote about in The Diet Fix. Believing in these myths can break anyone's weight management efforts. Over the coming days I'll be publishing them online.

Scales don't measure the presence or absence of health. Nor do they measure happiness, self-worth, or success. Scales measure one thing, and one thing only. Scales measure weight.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

The 1st Myth of Modern Day Dieting: It's About Willpower

A few weeks ago I shot some short videos in my office covering the 13 myths of modern day dieting that I wrote about in The Diet Fix. Believing in these myths can break anyone's weight management efforts. Over the coming days I'll be publishing them online.

The first myth of modern day dieting is that willpower is required. Yet people often spend more willpower on weight management than any other area of their lives. Has there really been an epidemic global loss of willpower over the course of the past 60 years? I don't think so. We as a society haven't changed, the world around us has. In this day and age, and in this toxic food environment, weight struggles aren't a willpower issue, they're as Yale's Dr. David Katz would put it, a skillpower issue.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

If I Move to Japan, I think I'll Join this Gym

Thanks to trainer to the stars and friend Chad Landers for steering me to this unbelievably inspirational Funny Friday Japanese exercise video.

It's one of those that you have to see to believe.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guest Post: On the CBC, Homeopaths are Now Medical Experts?

Received an email yesterday morning from my friend, lawyer, author, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, and evidence-based science champion Professor Timothy Caulfield who was quite upset about the inclusion of a homeopathic doctor on an expert health panel convened by the CBC for their flagship news program The National. While Tim (side note - his mother greatly preferred Timothy so if you don't know him and already always call him Tim (like me and virtually everyone else), and you happen to meet him, stick with Timothy) isn't anti-complementary medicine, he is very pro-evidence, and when it comes to homeopathy the evidence is in and it's not complementary. As I often do with my blog when a friend has something to say, I invited Tim to write a guest post explaining his concerns, and he kindly obliged:

An Open Letter to CBC's Peter Mansbridge from Prof. Timothy Caulfield

Dear Peter Mansbridge:

I couldn’t sleep last night. And it is your fault.

The last thing I watched before I went to bed was The National’s new health panel. And it left me we a deep feeling of despair. I couldn’t shake the sensation that we are slipping into some kind of bizarre all-knowledge-is-relative Dark Age.

The panel has three “experts”, including the terrific and science-based Danielle Martin and Ali Zentner. The third is Bryce Wylde, a self-described homeopathic doctor (he has a diploma from the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine) and advocate for, among a host of other scientifically unproven therapies, “natural health” and supplementation.

Now, I don’t know Wylde. He seems like a nice, engaging individual – particularly when he is on Dr. Oz talking about how he “travels the globe in search of Mother Nature’s fountain of youth”. He does this with a mixture of scientific-sounding babble (“vasodilate blood to the brain”?) and everything-natural-is-good boyish enthusiasm. He is, no doubt about it, entertaining.

But including an advocate of homeopathic medicine – one of the most derided and scientifically preposterous of alternative therapies – on a national and highly respected TV news program as a “medical expert” and legitimate source of evidence-based health information is simply wrong. He wasn’t presented as an outsider. His views were not cast as extreme and scientifically questionable. And this was not Dr. Oz, Oprah or an infomercial.

The inclusion of Wylde on this panel is a wonderful (and depressing) example of the phenomenon of false balance. Naturally, it is always good to keep an open mind and to get different perspectives on important issues. I suspect that was the goal the CBC had in mind when they decided to include Wylde. But using a homeopath to comment on biomedical issues is like using an astrologer to balance the views of Stephen Hawking.

I won’t dissect the scientifically questionable comments he made on The National – such as his advocacy of supplements (which he markets on his website – a practice that creates an obvious conflict of interest) and his statements about the health value of organic food. I am more concerned about the impact of putting this perspective on a respected show like The National. It legitimizes pseudoscientific ideas – which may have serious adverse health consequences – and makes it more difficult for the public to differentiate between real and junk science.

The CBC decision is particularly frustrating given that there are so many wonderful, science-based health scholars in Canada, including many who explore the issues associated with and evidence surrounding alternative therapies (such as Drs. Heather Boon at the University of Toronto and Sunita Vohra at the University of Alberta).

So, Mr. Mansbridge, I sincerely hope you look for a different, science-based, commentator for your health panel. I need the sleep.

Timothy Caulfield
Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy
Trudeau Fellow
Author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness

Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy and a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. He has been the Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta since 1993. Over the past several years he has been involved in a variety of interdisciplinary research endeavours that have allowed him to publish over 250 articles and book chapters. He is a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation, a Health Senior Scholar with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and the Principal Investigator for a number of large interdisciplinary projects that explore the ethical, legal and health policy issues associated with a range of topics, including stem cell research, genetics, patient safety, the prevention of chronic disease, obesity policy, the commercialization of research, complementary and alternative medicine and access to health care. Professor Caulfield is and has been involved with a number of national and international policy and research ethics committees, including: Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee; Genome Canada’s Science Advisory Committee; the Ethics and Public Policy Committee for International Society for Stem Cell Research; and the Federal Panel on Research Ethics. He has won numerous academic awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He writes frequently for the popular press on a range of health and science policy issues and is the author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012).

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Jenny Craig Thinks Calling People "Circus Fat" is Good for Business?

Caricature by Don
Now I'm no marketing guru, I'm just a doctor with a blog, and so maybe I'm missing something, but somehow my head says that using the term, "Circus Fat", to describe people who struggle with weight shouldn't be good for business for a company whose business it is to help people lose weight.

I hope I'm right as weight bias shouldn't be rewarded or encouraged, and no doubt Jenny Craig ought to know better.

Watch for yourself, maybe you have a different sense of humour than me.

[h/t to Twitter's Sue J.]

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Have You Ever Encountered the "What's Your Better Idea?" Fallacy

Last week I did the math on Girl Scout cookies only to discover that their sale annually contributes over three quarters of a million pounds of trans fat and thirty million pounds of sugar to the American diet. I then suggested that the charitable sale of trans-fat laden, sugary cookies is a practice that in this day and age can no longer be considered charitable and instead is part of our growing dietary woes.

This upset people, and it also brought up the, "what's your better idea" fallacy. It's a fallacy of distraction in that a practice or a program can most assuredly be fairly described as awful regardless of whether or not a solution for said practice or program is proposed.

Logical fallacies are a frustrating bunch and familiarizing yourself with their various incarnations is well worth your time. Here's a handy dandy poster highlighting some of the most common ones.

Have you ever been faced with frustrating logical fallacies?

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Badvertising: Dr. Joey's Skinny Chews

Do you think chewing on a tiny fibre filled candy would leave you feeling full?

Given there are no clinical trials out there, your guess is as good as mine, and mine sure isn't confident.

And yet here are Dr. Joey's Skinny Chews advertised to be
"the perfect long- lasting “on the go” treat to keep you on track to make healthier choices"
Dr. Joey instructs consumers,
"Next time you have a sweet tooth or a hunger pang that just won't quit – enjoy a couple Dr. Joey's Skinny Chews"
So what's in them?

Here's their nutrition facts panel:

How long do you think a couple of those will last you?

For comparison, wanna know the calories and sugar in an equivalently weighted 12grams of Tootsie Rolls? 7 more calories, and 0.7g more sugar. Doesn't seem so exciting to me, but if the fact that Dr. Joey's Skinny Chews truly are an ever so slightly better choice than Tootsie Rolls is exciting to you, please keep in mind that you're not likely to confuse Tootsie Rolls with a healthy between meal snack. And with nearly 60% of Skinny Chews' calories coming from sugar which in turn is responsible for over 40% of each Chew's actual physical weight, "healthy" seems quite a stretch.

But I'd bet people are confusing Skinny Chews with healthy because as as Dr. Joey mentioned to the dragons on Canada's venture capitalism reality show Dragons Den,
"People aren't buying a bag Dragons, they're buying 6 bags"
No real surprise there because who wouldn't be seduced by "Skinny" candy and no doubt, "Chocolate....with benefits" is a way better slogan than, "slightly less sugary candy with inulin".

Guess it's a good thing for sales that I wasn't hired as Dr. Joey's marketer.

[UPDATE: And then there's cost with Facebook commenter Cecilia noting 30 Skinny Chews are being sold for $16.97 at Canadian Walmarts, whereas you can buy 400 Tootsie Roll Midgees (at an American Walmart so they're likely a touch more expensive here) for $4.98.]

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