Friday, December 24, 2010


First, I have to admit I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, which I guess make me a Gleek! For those of you who are not familiar with this high energy, quirky series, each week brings us a new story of McKinley High School's Glee club, composed of a diverse group students, most of whom are considered to be "unpopular." While the stories are often outrageous, the singing and dancing are quite entertaining. And, to the show's credit, they do a beautiful job of confronting all sorts of identity issues faced by teens including homosexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, gender and even body size.

I've been really impressed by the creative way that the writers of Glee recently dealt with a female character, known as "The Beast." She is the new coach of the high school's football team, a tall, large woman who does not fit our culture's notions of femininity. In an episode that aired earlier this fall, The Beast was the subject of humiliating fantasies by male members of the Glee club who imagined her in compromising positions to quell their own sexual urges toward their girlfriends. When Mr. Schuester, the faculty director of Glee club, known affectionately as Mr. Schu, learned of this strategy, he immediately put a stop to their disrespectful behavior.

The Beast learned of the students' shaming fantasies of her, and in a scene that was both touching and painful, The Beast opened up to Mr. Schu about how aware she is of how her appearance sets her apart, and how rejected and alone she often feels in the world. Mr Schu's response, in the form of accepting her for who she is, offered a poignant moment in the show.

But what was even more poignant was when Mr. Schu insisted that the members of Glee club apologize to her, which they did with great authenticity, ending in a group hug. What I love about this scene is that instead of leaving viewers with the idea that there is something wrong with The Beast - the typical "of course she feels bad in her body because she is fat" - the students take ownership of their unacceptable behavior and acknowledge that they are the ones who were wrong. This forgiving and healing moment leaves no doubt about the new and improved respectful relationship that will now continue between The Beast and members of Glee club.

Fast forward some episodes later, and we find the character of The Beast once again showing her strength. In this wacky Christmas episode, it turns out that Brittany, one of the Glee club members, still believes in Santa, and her peers don't want to bust her magical belief. The Beast arrives at Brittany's home dressed as Santa, and Brittany tells "Santa" that the only thing she wants for Christmas is for her disabled boyfriend, Arnie, to be able to walk again. The Beast tries to get her to come up with another gift idea, but Brittany is adamant that nothing else will do. The Beast then tells Brittany that instead Santa will bring her patience "because, believe it or not, there are some things that even he can't manage." The Beast/Santa continues:

"You know, there was a girl once, she was a little husky always asking Santa for the same thing - to make her more like the other girls. She wasn't asking to be pretty or nothing. She just didn't want to stick out so much. Santa just couldn't do it. So instead, Santa gave her patience. And later on that girl was glad that Santa didn't give her what she asked for. She put being husky to good use."

That The Beast could make peace with her body size is revolutionary for mainstream TV. What a wonderful message about the process of self-acceptance, and just in time for the holiday season. It's satisfying to know that a TV show that confronts all kinds of oppression - and unleashes the joys of singing and dancing - can also be so wildly popular among teens. Which leaves me feeling very hopeful.

Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I remember having a session with client a who was talking about her parents' attitudes toward grades. She explained that you didn't have to get all A's - you just had to do your best. But, if you did your best, you would get A's!

I've tried to be aware of that with my own children - that it's okay not to get perfect grades. But when one of them says something like, "I got 68 out of 82 correct," I usually can't help myself from wondering out loud, "What happened?" And even if I manage not to make a comment, there's a good chance that the look on my face conveys some message that they should have done better. How can I assess if they've done their best?

Actually, what does it mean to do your best? I think that the usefulness of that expression has changed over the years. After all, given the endless possibilities that seem to exist in the world as the result of the internet and other advanced technologies, it seems that no matter how much we do, we can always do more.

Plus, things aren't always so clear cut. How about the child who does his best and gets a B, while his friend barely invests any time in the assignment and pulls off an A. Or, as a client pointed out, the athlete who got a silver medal may have done her best, while the competitor who got the gold didn't do her best. It's not as easy to evaluate as we might think.

This theme has come up in some recent sessions in my practice. One client described a task she had that didn't turn out exactly the way she wanted, despite her hard work. When I suggested that she had done her best, she responded that she could have done more - made more phone calls, sent more e-mails, etc. Wouldn't that have been her best?

We went on to have a great discussion about the idea of doing your best - which can seem limitless - versus doing a "good enough" job. To me, good enough means knowing that you made a reasonable effort or that you feel a sense of integrity about your commitment to something. For example, you may decide that you'll put 12 hours into your fundraising project, and then whatever happens, happens. Or that you'll study 4 hours for your final exam, and then take the test. It might mean that you visit your sick relative twice a week, rather than every day - even though you could argue that isn't your best.

I think this topic is so important for people struggling with eating issues because of the perfectionism that often exists - either I'm perfect (I've done my absolute best) or I'm a failure (I haven't done my absolute best). But there's a lot of room in between, and if we want to preserve our quality of life, we need to find balance. How much effort leaves you feeling competent, without feeling drained?

Which reminds me to mention my recent blog postings, that have not been as frequent as I would like. My energy has been taken up with a combination of work and personal issues that required my attention, and I decided to give myself permission not to post for awhile. I suppose you could say that if I were doing my best, I could have made time to write an entry - and I could have. But I decided that waiting until I got through the month of May would honor my situation and be good enough for my readers. Hopefully you'll come back to read our blog, and if not, I can accept that!

Someone recently mentioned the children's book, The Little Engine That Could. Remember his words? "I think I can, I think I can..." and as he huffed and puffed his way up the track, he did make it. We have so many stories in our culture about setting our minds to something and never giving up. If we just try hard enough, we can achieve anything. These ideas certainly can be motivational and inspirational. But the reality is that we cannot achieve everything we set our mind to. Sometimes we don't have what it takes. Or we would have to focus on one accomplishment instead of attending to our needs in a more holistic manner.

Where are the models to teach us how to let go gracefully? To accept that as much as we might want something, there may be no way to get it - or at least it's not worth the cost it would take to get there? I'd like to see an alternative version of The Little Engine That Could that goes something like this: "I think, I can, I think I can, actually, I can't - or I choose not to - and I'm okay with that!"

Are there more models for that kind of balance than I'm able to think right now? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Eat well! Live well! Be well!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


In our book, The Diet Survivor's Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care, lesson 6 focuses on the problems caused by deprivation. We state, "The deprivation of dieting actually causes overeating. Making the decision to end this cycle takes courage and allows you to feel more relaxed with food." After the lesson, we offer an activity to better understand the effects of deprivation offering the following scenario:

It is late Sunday evening and you have just been alerted that there is a problem with the town's water supply. In order to fix the problem the town will be shutting off its water by midnight, and hopes to resume service within twenty-four to thirty-six hours.

Do you notice an increase in your overall anxiety?

What will you do, knowing that water will be unavailable for some time (run to the store for bottled water, fill pitchers, take a shower, run a quick load of laundry or dishes, etc)?

Do you find yourself thinking more about water than usual, and preoccupied with when it will be available?

This is the anxiety you experience, day in and day out, when you deprive yourself of particular foods.

So, this past Saturday, I had the opportunity to watch a similar scenario play itself out. In Weston, Massachusetts a water pipe burst leading to an undrinkable water supply for 31 communities comprising of 2 million people. I live in Marblehead, one of the towns affected by this problem. Residents were alerted through Board of Health phone calls, e-mails and the news that water must be boiled or bought to be safe, and the "catastrophic problem" could take days or weeks to fix. Phones were ringing, people were stressing. That evening, my husband and I were meeting two other couples for Indian food in Salem, Massachusetts, a town next door to ours, but not affected by the water supply problem. Patrons in the restaurant, I noticed, were more excited by the pitcher of tap water the waiter wielded, than the chocolate martinis and bottles of Kingfisher beer brought to the tables.

By the next morning, people were in a panic. Newspaper headlines sounded the alarm, and the TV news was filled with shots of empty grocery shelves where bottled water once stood. There were reports of fighting over what little water remained, and in some communities people waited for hours in mile long lines for bottled water that was being distributed by the National Guard. In other areas, people drove to unaffected towns in search of twelve packs of bottled water. It was reported that someone paid $7 for one bottle of Fiji water.

Suddenly, water was on everybody's lips...well figuratively, if not literally. That, after all, was the problem. In grocery aisles, on the walking path, at the dry cleaners, all you heard were conversations about water. I realized that I was hearing people talk about water - how much they wanted it, how they just had to find more, when the water ban might be lifted - the way I usually hear people talk about diets. It was constant. The obsession about water was replacing what has come to be the "norm" about obsessing over eating/dieting. Those who use fear tactics sounding an alarm on the supposed "obesity epidemic" would have been thrilled. Two million people craving a zero calorie liquid....

No one was talking about ice cream or M&M's or hamburgers or French fries. Just water, H20, ice cubes.

And by Monday, the anxiety had mushroomed as coffee drinker buzzed (or, as the problem unfolded, didn't buzz) about their caffeine withdrawal. Coffee houses in the 31 affected communities couldn't brew their cup of Joe, and that left many, many people in an added place of deprivation. No one was stressing over chocolate chip muffins, donuts, or bagels. Water and coffee, that's where the derivation and anxiety were, because that's what you couldn't get.

Three days after the water supply was compromised, tap water was again deemed safe to drink. Store shelves now overflowed with the extra shipments of bottled water that hurried into stores. After a minute of rejoicing and toasting one another with a bacteria free glass of tap water, life goes on much as it did before the burst pipe. I overhear people ordering their coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and once again stressing about whether or not they should order the muffin or donut that now beckons to them. In restaurants and on the street, I overhear people lament about their weight, committing themselves to another diet with self-imposed deprivations.

In lesson 6, we end with a quote from Mark Twain: To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to do that very thing. The recent water ban made it crystal clear - as clear as the water that now flows plentifully from my tap. Scarcity makes us scared. Abundance makes us feel calm. I wish I could rewrite the news headline today and proclaim: Deprivation no more: Burst your own pipes and flow in abundance!


Monday, March 15, 2010


As a promoter of wellness, I am sometimes asked to have a booth at wellness fairs, and I had the opportunity to do so yesterday. My colleague and good friend, Debbie, was one of the organizers at the 2010 Wellness Day at her temple, where they've developed a wonderful program to promote enrichment and renewal throughout the year. This particular day combined a fantastic line-up of workshops with a variety of vendors.

When I arrived at temple I had to set up in a hurry - I had completely forgotten about the time change and was just deciding what to wear when my husband informed me that it was an hour later than I thought! Thank goodness I had packed up what I needed to bring the day before.

I displayed my handouts, brochures and books to teach people about the non-diet approach, and enjoyed the many conversations with attendees who stopped by to ask questions and share their experiences. As people left the room to attend a slot of workshops, I finally had a chance to look around.

Next to me on my right, there were two female doctors, primarily advertising skin care services, and I immediately noticed the botox brochures. I can't help having a reaction to that - it just makes me think about the constant focus on looking younger. One of these women came over to my table and asked about my services. After my explanation, she said, "we help people lose weight too." that what I said? She picked up a copy of The Diet Survivor's Handbook and asked if she could take a look. "Sure," I said, hoping that would clarify my message. Apparently it did. She dropped it back off at my table, and never made eye contact with me again.

That interaction got me thinking. I wished I had asked her about how she helps people lose weight and what the results are. I am so reactive to people prescribing any kind of diet, that I generally just avoid the conversation.

So I decided to get curious. Instead of just feeling tense - and making all kinds of assumptions - I figured that in the quiet time between workshops, I would talk to other vendors and listen with an open mind.

I started with Herbal Life. I asked the woman behind the table to tell me what she was offering. She explained that she drinks these drinks (there were samples available, but they looked awful; my mind - and taste buds - weren't that open).

She made it clear that this was not a diet because, she agreed, diets don't work. Instead, she has a machine to check how much protein you need for your body, and you can then get however many grams it tells you are right for you through their protein drinks. I asked her why not get the protein through real food, and she told me that there were a lot less calories in the drink than food. On this not-a-diet plan she has lost 30 pounds since August and runs a program out of her home to help others do the same. I asked her if she had any statistics on how people were doing at sustaining their weight loss five years out - the standard set through the National Institutes of Health - and she told me that she didn't know, but that she thought it was a great question. I invited her to stop by my booth - she never did.

I returned to my table proud of myself for having the conversation, but feeling no relief for my tension. On my left, there was a social service organization that serves teens, and on their table was a large basket of stress balls. "Do you mind if I take one of those?" I asked the young woman at the table, "I could really use it." "Sure," she said. I chose a purple one and squeezed many times.

My next stop was kitty corner from me in the room where a woman was advertising her personal training program. She greeted me as I walked over and offered me a t-shirt, which read, "Have you seen yourself naked?" "No thanks," I said. "I wouldn't wear that." Despite my attempt to stay open minded, I couldn't help myself as I launched into an explanation.

"I think that makes people feel shame," I told her. "I think it gives the message that you don't look okay, and you'd better do something about it. I spend much of my life trying to counter that idea."

"No," she responded, "I thought people would think that too, but they love it."

Forget the stress ball. I needed a massage and took advantage of one of the vendor's knowing hands on my back. Ten minutes later, I was a bit more relaxed, and decided that I had made enough observations for one day.

But then I saw the chocolate guy! You may remember my previous blog about my love of chocolate. This guy's shirt said something about healthy chocolate, and unfortunately, the word "healthy," is always a buzz word to me for "diet." However, it was now that time of the afternoon when I craved some chocolate, and even though I had my Dove chocolates in my bag, I decided to go on one last adventure.

The chocolate guy explained to me that chocolate, which comes from cacao, is actually a vegetable! I didn't know that...but I did know that chocolate is said to have healthful benefits. One of these benefits, he explained to me, is weight loss. Here we go again!

I spent a lot of time talking to Scott about his chocolate product, which actually tasted good. He explained the history of chocolate to me, which was quite interesting. He says that the process of manufacturing chocolate strips it of most of it's beneficial compounds, which apparently include a high concentration of antioxidants (according to his materials, three squares of xocai chocolate "is equivalent to eating 1.6 pounds of spinach or 6.5 pounds of tomatoes.") Maybe this is a type of chocolate that people would like to know about and have access to - regardless of whether they lose weight by using it.

I think it's time for me to clarify my view of weight loss. I consider myself to be weight neutral, which means that I do not have expectation of what a person should weigh, or a determination that someone is "successful" if they do lose weight. It's not that I'm against weight loss - it's just that I object to it being a stated goal of a program, since while any type of diet produces weight loss in the short-run, there is absolutely no proven way to help the vast majority of people sustain weight loss over time (if that research existed, we'd all know about it!) And, it potentially causes physical and emotional harm when used as a primary motivation for change. If - or when - weight loss does happen, I view it as a side effect of whatever journey a person is on to enhance their wellness. I hope that everyone will end up at whatever is a natural weight for them.

As I returned to my booth, I realized I had learned something new from the chocolate guy, and it got me thinking - if people frequently feel they're not supposed to eat chocolate because it's a "bad" food, and now they're actually told to eat it three times a day because it's a healthful food, what happens? Does the deprivation end, allowing people to take pleasure once again in this truly pleasurable food? I think the chocolate guy got excited by my curiosity and thought that I might be interested in it for my clients. I like to think that my clients, when they're hungry for chocolate, will make sure to get some. If this particular type of chocolate feels like a good match - for whatever reasons - I hope they will make sure to have some.

On the way home from Wellness Day, I was describing the day's events to my husband. He asked to see the brochure of the fitness program with the tag line, "have you seen yourself naked?" and liked what he read about it. Her model of personal training seems helpful, and the actual title of her business promotes empowering one's body - what a wonderful idea. But the weight loss references are all over the place.

I can't help but wonder what the experience was like for people at the wellness fair as they moved from vendors promising weight loss to my booth - which proclaimed that diets don't work, and the focus on weight loss is counterproductive. Is it possible to "sell" wellness without promising weight loss? Let's just say that as I continue to show up and promote my view of wellness whenever I can, I'll be making sure to have my brand new purple stress ball easily accessible.

Eat well! Live well Be well!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


As I was driving home from work a couple of months ago, I turned on the radio and caught the end of a story about Michelle Obama. She had given a speech that included her intention to launch a campaign to prevent childhood obesity, using a quote that suggested this generation of children would live shorter lives than their parents.

Immediately, I went into high alert and promised myself that I would at least write a letter explaining my point of view and my expertise in this area. But the holidays, family, and all of the other daily demands that can interfere with the best of intentions distracted me. When President Obama announced his wife’s initiative during the State of the Union address, I felt more saddened than surprised by what lays ahead.

I have the greatest respect for Mrs. Obama and have no doubt that she passionately believes in her mission. I think that her focus on weight and weight loss only goes to show how our culture normalizes the beliefs that you must be thin to be healthy, and that through changes in eating patterns - usually in the form of dieting - everyone can achieve a smaller body size. If this is what you believe, then a campaign that focuses on childhood obesity makes sense.

What I would give to meet Michelle at a local Starbucks for a cup of coffee and conversation! As I have with so many friends and colleagues, who also held similar views, I’d talk with her about what I’ve learned in my work with clients over the years, and how the science now supports these ideas.

I’d tell Michelle how wonderful it’s been to see her growing vegetables at the White House with children who can now appreciate the beauty of nature and the taste of fresh foods. I’d agree that making fruits and vegetables accessible and affordable for all children is a goal that would improve the quality of our children’s health. I’d applaud efforts to make physical education available on a daily basis – for children of all sizes – in our schools. I’d encourage her to figure out ways for organizations to support families so that all children have access to all kinds of activities, rather than spending hours in front of the TV (although sometimes, just chilling out in front of the TV after a demanding day at school is the perfect activity – just ask my children!)

Then I’d ask Michelle to take weight out of the equation. After all, good health is much broader than a number on the scale. I’d point out to her that there are thin children who are unhealthy, and ask if she is aware of girls who purge or use dangerous diet products to keep their weight low. I’d ask her if she knows that there are children who fall in the higher BMI categories that eat fruits and vegetables every day, are physically active, and come from a family where their genetic inheritance means a larger body size.

I’d also have to respectfully wonder if she’s familiar with the multitude of studies that challenge the notion of thin as most healthy. Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control released her findings in 2005 that showed no difference in death rates for people in the overweight and lower end of the obesity categories. In fact, she concluded that only people at either extreme – very large or very thin – had increased risk, with those who are the thinnest carrying the most risk. Two other long-term studies came out this past year – one from Canada and one from Japan – that also confirmed people in the “overweight” category of BMI actually live the longest lives.

I'd hope I'm not boring her with research and statistcs, but then I'd remind myself of the value Barack Obama places on science. I'd describe a huge study by Steven Blair, who was with the Cooper Institute at the time, that found obese-fit men have half the death rate of thin-unfit men, suggesting again weight is not the key factor when it comes to health. I'd point out that plenty of research shows yo-yo dieting, in which people repeatedly lose weight and regain the pounds, actually leads to health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

By now it might be time to refill our coffee, but if I could keep the First Lady’s attention for a little longer, I’d like to raise her awareness about the discrimination faced by children who are fat. Kids get bullied all the time, and body size is a frequent target. I'd ask her to imagine the experience of a large child when there’s a campaign to support obesity prevention at the highest level – by none other than her - a warm, kind and loving mother! I'd ask her if she understands the implications of her message: if obesity is “bad,” - and you are large - then you are not okay. I'd implore her to think about what that does to the self-esteem of our children, which I know she cares about very much. I'd like Michelle to know that even though I don't believe this is her intention, the campaign affects all children because the covert message is that if you're not already fat, you'd better do everything in your power not to gain weight - or else you will no longer be acceptable.

Now that we’ve (hopefully) established a connection, I’d like to get a little more personal in my conversation with Michelle. I want to broach the topic of her daughters, and how they will grow up to feel in their own bodies. I’d explain to her that it’s wonderful she viewed her daughter’s body size as “perfect,” and that her doctor was wrong to focus on their weight.

I'd suggest that the best way to raise healthy daughters is to help them stay connected to their hunger and fullness, provide them with a wide variety of food, and tell them to follow their dreams! I’d explain how focusing on food restrictions creates deprivation and frequently leads to the very weight gain she is trying to prevent. I'd share with her how I’ve worked with so many women over the years who felt great shame about their bodies - often triggered by a negative comment made about their body by someone who loved them - leading to a lifelong struggle with food and weight.

Which would lead me to a touchy subject. Speaking mother to mother, and wife to wife, I'd wonder if she might have a long talk with her husband who reportedly referred to their older daughter as "chubby." I have no doubt that if he understood that gaining weight is a natural part of female development and that the power of his statement - which is now public - can have a devastating effect on his daughter(s), he'd rethink how he talks about the wonder of their beautiful, developing bodies. I'd encourage them - as a couple - to stand by their commitment to diversity, and publicly acknowledge that this value extends not only to racial, ethnic and religious diversity, but to size diversity as well.

I'd suggest to Michelle that we all have a lens through which we view information, and I understand that she - with full support from the President - truly believes that this campaign will improve the lives of our children. So before we end our conversation, there's just a couple of more things I'd need to share.

Michelle, remember your statement that this generation of children will live shorter lives than their parents? I think you were referring to the quote by S. Jay Olansky, Ph.D. stating, "The current generation of children is the first generation in modern American history projected to have shorter life span than their parents."

I knew I had heard some challenge to that, so I sent a message to a list serve I'm on, and I want to share with you these responses:

Dr. Linda Bacon told me that she writes in her book, Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, "This proclamation was drawn from an opinion piece published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and offered no statistical evidence to support its claim, though you would never know it from the authority it has been granted in the media. Consider this before you buy into the hype: Life expectancy has increased dramatically during the same time period in which our weight rose (from 70.8 years in 1970 to 77.8 years in 2005) and continues to hit record highs."

And then a couple of days later, Dr. Jon Robison, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University posted, "Also, when Olshansky was questioned about the validity of these predictions in an article in Scientific American entitled Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic (June 2005) he replied, 'These are just back of the envelope, plausible scenarios. We never meant for them to be portrayed as precise.' And yet they published them in one of the major medical journal in the world - and the Journal permitted it."

I'd sincerely hope that this information would make Michelle reflect on what she's putting out in the world - and how to truly make the world a better place. I'd give her a wonderful resource from the Academy for Eating Disorders, an international, professional organization, that offers guidelines to promote the health and well-being of all children.

Finally, I'd leave Michelle with an article that appeared on February 1, 2010 in the Huffington Post by Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh.

It is so moving that I am going to print it here:

"In the eating disorders world, putting any child on a diet is not only unacceptable but appalling.

In the eating disorders world, a father referring to his child as "chubby" and commenting on her eating habits is not only frowned upon it is reviled.

In the eating disorders world a mother who felt her children were "perfect" should not be corrected by a doctor who points to the children's weight as altering that.

In the eating disorders world it is well-known and embraced that healthy children rapidly gain weight as they approach puberty.

In the eating disorders world it is understood that dieting is an unhealthy behavior, that healthy weight is whatever one's body ends up with when they are behaviorally and mentally healthy - a wide range of body shapes and sizes. Average weight people can be unhealthy, and non-average weight people can be healthy.

Behaviors, not weight, are appropriate health goals.

But OUTSIDE the eating disorder world none of the above is true. In fact, most people believe the opposite on every single point, and are not aware of any other way to think or that the science supports all of the above. I am sucker-punched to read that our First Family put their daughters on a "diet" because they feared "obesity" and no doubt will be lauded for it.

This is not an eating disorder issue, however, and it should not be only us who know this and speak out about it. These are medical, social, and ultimately self-defeating errors in thinking that do harm to all children and all of us. I am very sad today."


Michelle, thank you for the coffee and conversation. You have a lot of power. Use it well.

Eat well! Live well! Be well!



Monday, January 11, 2010


I was at the grocery store the other day, making my way through the produce aisle. I'm not much of a fruit eater, but I happen to love bananas!
Usually around mid-morning, a banana hits the spot for me in taste, texture, and satisfaction. I like them to be more yellow than green, but definitely not too soft. So in order to get the ripeness I like, I buy some every 3 0r 4 days.

As I grabbed the bunch of bananas that looked just right, I noticed a green sticker on one of the bananas, in addition to the usual Dole label. It read: Lose Weight. See

Oy vey! Does everything need to become a diet food? I don't know about you, but the minute I'm told that I should eat something because it will help me lose weight, I'm pretty turned off. (However, I love bananas enough that I will ignore the sticker and continue my satisfying relationship with this delicious fruit...)

When I got home, I decided to pay a visit to the banana diet website. Here's what I read:

The original Morning Banana Diet was created by an Osaka pharmacist to help her husband lose weight. By following the simple plan, he dropped 38 pounds. Word spread like wildfire and soon stores across Japan couldn’t keep bananas on the shelves.

Now, Americans are joining the bandwagon, losing weight and enjoying the benefits of increased fruit consumption.

As a leader in nutrition education, DOLE wanted to create a healthier banana diet that substitutes well-balanced meals and nutritious recipes for the “all you can eat” approach.

Explore the Recipes section for two weeks of healthy and low-calorie recipes for the Dole Banana Diet!

Next, I clicked on their two week diet menus. So, here's the magic bullet: Start every morning with two Dole bananas (do they have to be Dole or will Chiquita work as well?) The rest of the day involves lots more varieties of Dole fruits (Dole fruit cups, Dole raisins) snacks that consist of Dole red peppers and Dole broccoli (do I detect a pattern here?) and some small amounts of protein. No fat anywhere in sight. A total of about 1,200 calories per day if you follow their menus. How do you spell H.U.N.G.R.Y.?!!!

Dole is not alone in using the marketing tactic of promising weight loss to sell their product. While I was thinking about writing this blog, a Special K commercial appeared on TV with the tagline: Lose up to 6 pounds in 12 weeks. V8 Juice asked: What's your number? The Dairy Council recommended: Drink more milk to lose weight. And multigrain Cheerios suggested: More grains. Less you.

Have we gone bananas? How is it that every food is now part of the latest diet plan? Actually, the answer is quite simple. If you restrict calories - and all of these advertisements have the caveat that you must combine their product with a low calorie diet and exercise to get results - you will lose weight. Of course they forget to tell you that you will feel deprived, your metabolism will slow way down, and ultimately you will gain back the weight and then some - but that wouldn't help their sales. And I guess some of us just want to believe.

Here is the most outrageous diet promise of the season: Taco Bell now has a spokesperson. If you haven't heard about her yet, Christine lost 54 pounds by eating the "Fresco" items offered at Taco Bell. In their marketing campaign, they refer to this as the Drive-Thru Diet. Before you swallow the whole enchilada, keep in mind that she was limited to 1250 calories a day (about the same as the banana diet). And they are clear that results aren't typical. Did you see that? Results aren't typical!

The truth is that any food could claim to be part of a diet for weight loss. How about:

Chocolate: For a richer, sweeter, thinner you

Potato chips: Enjoy the crunch. Chip off the pounds

Ice Cream: The latest scoop: one bowl a day - and two on sundae - melts the weight away

Just focus on that food, keep your calories under 1250, increase your exercise and voila - another diet plan doomed for failure.

So what is a diet survivor to do? In my last blog entry I talked about avoiding the magazines that sell diet and weight loss messages. But I'm not prepared to avoid all of the foods that are now promoting themselves as weight loss aids. I like milk. I even like Taco Bell. And I love bananas!

Instead, I'll do what I've always done: pay attention to the way a food tastes and how it feels in my body. I'll eat the foods I enjoy and stay away from the ones I don't. I'll remember that no single food is magic, and that variety is the spice of life! And when those weight loss labels are staring me in the face, I'll remind myself that choosing bananas has absolutely nothing to do with my body size, and appreciate the flavor and nutrients they provide.

In fact, I'm going to replace that weight loss mentality with the adorable image I have from my childhood of the banana dancing away as it sang a song - now that's the type of creative marketing we could use a little more of!

Eat well! Live well! Be well!