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!