Do you think that fake brownies and artificial cheesecake are actually healthy?
Imitation desserts are some of the most featured products in advertising by the nation’s leaders in commercial weight loss programs, including Medifast and Nutrisystem. Don’t believe me? Take a look:
So, even more important, do you think THEY believe that these fake desserts are really healthy for you?
Answer: They don’t care, as long as you buy these artificial foods from them.
What’s really going on here?
Lie #1 – These Foods are Healthy!
These types of ads “bait” consumers and attempt to make them believe that there are no hard choices or lifestyle and habit changes required to become healthy and lose weight.
This is THE ILLUSION OF HEALTHINESS that they’ve built around artificial foods, and it’s a marketing strategy honed by commercial diets and traditional food companies. The underlying message — somehow, they’ve created a “healthy” version of foods you know you shouldn’t eat regularly.
The implication is that indulging in desserts and sweets is no problem with these magical formulations. So tempting to believe, but of course, this is patently false. It can be difficult to break unhealthy habits. Moreover, in our society and culture today, people are much less willing to make personal sacrifices, even for their own long term benefit. No wonder this is a message that so many embrace, even if in their heart of hearts, they know better.
Lie #2 – You Can Have Your Cake and Lose Weight Too!
Just as important, the message of this advertising is that all those bad habits you’ve had for years – turns out you don’t need to change them at all! Just eat THEIR versions of those bad foods. This is the ILLUSION OF BREAKING COMPROMISES – yes, you can have your cake (just name your flavor) and lose weight too!
This has in fact become the STANDARD messaging from all of the big diet companies – from Weight Watchers to Jenny (Craig) to Nutrisystem to Medifast – and especially from the “gimmick” or “magic potion” companies like Sensa and others. In the face of consumers who would like to accomplish their weight and health goals without the challenge of making changes and choices (who wouldn’t?), this is the easy albeit unethical compromise that large diet companies gladly make in their advertising in order to sell their products – knowing full well that their approach can rarely translate into long term or sustained weight loss for their clients.
The truth is that the diet foods peddled by these companies (particularly the fake desserts) typically have had one unhealthy ingredient replaced with another (for example, processed carbohydrates and salt for fat). Or, they are laden with all manner of artificial substances and chemicals that may leach important nutrients from our bodies, injure our digestive systems and increase our toxic load. Furthermore, what is required to become healthy IS a change to lifestyle and habits. There are no shortcuts – though there are MUCH better ways than packaged food programs to accomplish these changes (more on this in a later post).
So if you are looking for a weight loss program, consider whether that program helps you build the foundation for a lifetime of health and weight maintenance. Avoid the seduction of the illusions promoted in typical weight loss advertising. If the message tells you explicitly or implicitly that you can have your cake and lose weight too, turn on your inner truth detector and take a reading before proceeding.
Paul Amoruso, CEO