I saw this comic today and nearly “splurfed” my green tea with the snort-laugh that bubbled up. This laughter comes from remembering from some of the many different diets I’ve worked through over the years of my life and the “fake foods” they “allow” you to eat.
I remember eating turkey bacon while on Weight Watchers. Fewer calories! “Similar” Taste! Fake yourself into thinking it is REAL bacon and think that you’re giving yourself a treat! It’s Fake-on! Whee! Yeah. Not so much. Anyone who has EVER tried turkey bacon will assure you that it is NOTHING like regular, good old, slightly fattier, slightly higher in calorie pork bacon. It doesn’t cook the same either. I mean come on; nothing says “This is NOT bacon” better than the fact that turkey bacon will never get that wonderful crisp bacon snap when you cook it. It just always remains the same too-bright pinkish strip of slurried meat product. Blech! And for the record, you aren’t fooling your body into thinking that dessicated piece of reconstituted turkey pressed into a bacon shape is actual bacon either. It knows. You know. Stop lying to yourself and admit it. That ISN’T bacon. It never will BE bacon.
Then there was South Beach, or just the “Low/No Carb” diet for those not subscribing to any particular brand-name diet. After 2 weeks of “induction”, by the end of which a piece of half-rotted pear sounded like freaking heaven, you’re willing to try anything even remotely resembling a bread product. And then you try to fake-out your body, trick it again into thinking it is getting something that you really aren’t going to feed it, by mashing up cauliflower into “Mashed Potatoes”. Come on folks. We’re adults. If you want to eat mashed up cauliflower with some butter and spices and enjoy that awesome tasty, go for it. But stop acting like you’ve somehow managed to convince your body that it is really “Just Like” eating mashed potatoes. Your body isn’t a 3 year old that can’t figure out you’ve hidden peas inside their food (which, for the record, I’m not sure fools even 3-year-olds).
And from the days of calorie-counting in the generic “I can just stop eating so much, because obviously if I’m overweight I just must be eating more than my body needs” diet phase comes another of those “ooo this is just like eating ____, but fewer calories and none of the taste” items: Any sort of “fat free”, “diet” or otherwise “low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar, low-something” product out there waiting to take your money. Your body knows it isn’t the real thing; why are you still trying to convince yourself that it will never know that difference? And frankly, every food stuff that feels the need to market some sort of “diet” version of itself knows that it isn’t supposed to be eaten as a sole nutrient-providing part of a balanced human eating regime. I feel if marketing groups just used their funds to focus on intelligent commercials like “Hey! This soda/snack-food/treat/sugar-filled tasty thing is delicious but shouldn’t be the only thing you eat (which honestly, if people just stopped following diet marketing scams in the first place we’d all realize we KNOW anyways)” instead of trying to put all their mental energy into crafting these “tricky”, slightly less calorie but far less tasty (and likely full of even more junk additives you might NOT want), products that they just know people will try to eat more of in an attempt to trick and appease their body into accepting it as the original fun food item; then perhaps we could move away from this overwhelming belief that we humans have no idea how to choose foods that are good for us; in amounts that are right for us as individuals; and start to revamp the whole idea one person actually being able to make good decisions for their own eating habits.
Basically, my thought on these fakey foods is: If you want to eat it, fine, but stop trying to convince me and you and everyone around you that you love it more than the real thing because it is something that dieting introduced you to and it is a Wonderful Non-Food to “enjoy”. This diet-induced self-delusion has to stop.
If you like Turkey Bacon, fine. I’m still not going to eat it. You can have my share even. If, like me, you enjoy cauliflower mashed up as a tasty veggie, fine. Just stop calling them “Fake Mashed Potatoes” though, as if that somehow makes them quasi-carbs that will appease your carb-starved inner-body gods demanding potato-sacrifices be made to them. And if you love the taste of diet soda, have a blast; drink it up. But that 0-calorie sip is by no means “tricking” your body into losing weight, or into believing that you’re really drinking the real thing. Both of you know the truth. So stop lying to yourself. Stop lying to your poor body and own up to the fact that these are what they are: Fake Foods. Denying it doesn’t make it any less true.
So if you ARE only eating those things in the vain hope that somehow your body will one day love them as much as the original; join me in the D.A.R.E to Eat Real Foods challenge; whereby you acknowledge exactly what it is you’re eating for what it actually is, and not for what it is supposedly replacing. Join in the fun chant and just say “Fake Foods: No Thanks!”