Weight Loss Carpetbaggers

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Weight Loss Can Be Challenging

Well they’re doing it again. When the New Year rolls around, Big Food companies start peddling their insane weight loss programs filled with leanwashed, “healthy” food options. It’s pretty ironic if you think about it—the very same processed food companies that mislead us into eating more and more empty calories then turn around and sell us even more processed foods that pretend to help us lose weight. Much like the carpetbaggers who went South for political and financial gain after the Civil War, these weight loss carpetbaggers don’t really solve any problems. They just profit from them.

Special Karpetbagger

One of the most insidious of these carpetbaggers is Kellogg’s and its Special K brand. After spending millions of dollars researching women’s attitudes about diets and body image, Kellogg’s has learned how to talk about weight loss. Leveraging these insights, Kellogg’s Special K has created advertising that connects with women by recognizing happiness is more than a number on a scale:

 

But like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, after connecting with women emotionally, Kellogg’s sells them out. Rather than deliver healthy, real food options for women wanting to lose weight, Kellogg’s twists its knowledge and sells an über processed, highly profitable Special K line-up:

 

On its website Kellogg’s describes its Special K items as “goodness you can taste” and then goes on to say:

Look forward to every meal with a delicious and nutritious variety of Special K foods. We’re proud to include nutrients your body needs with the tastes you crave. From wholesome breakfast foods and savory snacks to shakes, sweet treats and so much more, all of our products were created to delight your taste buds.

But do these products deliver? Can you taste the goodness that Kellogg’s promises? And is Special K truly wholesome and nutritious? To answer these questions let’s take a closer look at several Special K items to see how they stack up:

[Click here for complete ingredient and nutrition info for these products.]

Unfortunately the Special K lineup follows a disappointing, faux food theme that concerns me for many reasons:

  • Servings that will leave you hungry:  In order to hit low calorie counts, Special K uses exceptionally small servings and/or foods that are literally filled with puffed air. While real food like vegetables or a piece of fruit make you feel full, it’s doubtful if Special K’s lineup will do much to satisfy your appetite.
  • Lots of sugar:  To make their bars, pastries, and drinks sweet, Special K pours on the sugar. In the items I reviewed, total sugars ranged from 6g-18g per serving and drove 25%-40% of the calorie count.
  • Loads of sodium: If you’re watching your sodium intake, watch out since most of Special K’s items have 125-250mg of sodium per tiny serving.
  • Many “fake” ingredients: From GMOs to artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners there’s not much about these products that is real.
  • Preservatives and controversial/potentially carcinogenic ingredients: BHT, trans fats, caramel color, TBHQ, and carrageenan are just some of the worrisome ingredients frequently found in the Special K family.

So does Kellogg’s provide a responsible action plan for weight-loss? No. Rather than advocate eating more real foods, Kellogg’s has merely taken out their processed food toolbox to profit off the global obesity epidemic they helped to create.

Awakening people to Big Food’s deceptive tactics and changing how they think about food and weight loss products is no easy task. Processed food companies have a lot vested in maintaining the status quo. And with their big research and advertising budgets they’ve successfully dominated and controlled the conversation about food. However, step by step real food believers like you and I are fighting back and spreading the word.

So do you want to help me change the conversation about food? Then share my blog with your friends and family. And if you haven’t checked out my novel, Fat Profits, please do. It’s an entertaining thriller about a corrupt food company launching a revolutionary, new weight loss product (sound familiar?). While it’s complete fiction, I’ve leveraged my 15+ years of Big Food marketing experience to create a suspenseful read that brings to life the corporate greed and corruption that’s endemic in the world of food. So seriously, if you love a good thriller, read a FREE copy of the first chapter today, and I’m sure you’ll be hooked.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. If you’re new to my site and you’d like to learn more inside scoop on the world of food, please subscribe here.

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10 comments… add one

  • Vanessa B January 31, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Another great article. I lost 50 pounds eating “healthy” food. Guess what? I gained most of it back! This time around I’m making healthier choices. Sure, it’s taking me longer, but I’m happier and not hungry/grouchy all of the time. I still love the Special K cereal with strawberries and have an occasionsl bowlful. I have yet to find anything else like it. There’s probably a reason for that!

    Reply
  • Sarah January 31, 2013, 1:39 pm

    This is fantastic! I discovered in April 2012 that calorie counting was keeping me from losing weight, not because I wasn’t good at it, but because of the types of foods most people choose to eat when trying to survive on a calorie deficit diet. The “best bang for your buck” diet doesn’t work. I would always plateau after a 20 pound weight loss, feel starving all the time, crave like a mad woman, and quickly give up.

    It wasn’t until I realized the problem wasn’t me, it was the food I was eating. There was a sudden realization that corporations don’t care about me, my health, or my waist size (despite their words that they do), but about my paycheck. They make their foods purposely addictive so we come crawling back for more! Then the same corporation that claims to be a different corporation, tells me to stay away from those high fat foods and eat their low-fat/low-cal foods and all will be good in the world. FALSE. All those low-cal treats and snacks are all sugar to make them taste like their fattier counterpart! And don’t even get me started on corn syrup and how physically addictive it is! I went through a horrible 2 week sugar flu while going cold turkey off corn syrup.

    Now I eat a 100% all natural diet. I don’t touch any foods that come with an ingredient list. My food goes from the farm to the local market to my fridge, and doesn’t stop at a chemical plant for processing where crazy chemicals that taste like food are jumbled together to give you some unnatural concoction that’s edible, but not actually food. The result? 60 pound weight loss in 9 months, with only 40 left to go until I hit my goal weight of 120. I have more energy than I’ve ever had before. I don’t crave foods anymore. I’m full after I eat, and I stay full for much longer. My blood sugar and cholesterol are down, Eating like a human being is the simplest thing I could have done to lose weight. No complicated math problems to see if I can eat my food, no tracking, no checking if I can eat something or not. I just eat. My body tracks what I’m eating, I don’t have to worry about having enough points or calories left by suppertime. Had I known it was this simple, I would have done this years ago!

    Thanks for your blog. I’ll be following you much more closely after this article.

    Reply
    • Robin Jingjit January 31, 2013, 3:05 pm

      Awesome! You must feel like a million bucks! We had to drop processed foods, not for dieting reasons, but because my sons were having adverse reactions to artificial ingredients in the foods. But of course it makes sense that when you get rid of fake foods, you’re healthier by default, even without dieting (in the sense of counting, be it points or calories).

      It’s sad when you realize that no company actually cares about your health. But then, you move forward with the truth that you’re the only one looking out for yourself and you make better choices.

      Reply
  • Al Hunter February 5, 2013, 2:51 pm

    I like your 1st chapter.
    I was once co-founder of a corporate food entity & have insights into how unethical they can be.
    Now, on disability, I have no way to buy your book, but I wish you success.

    Reply
  • Norma February 5, 2013, 4:25 pm

    Those 90-calorie bars have about 34 ingredients in them, of which I believe close to a dozen are sweeteners (sugar, HFCS, sorbitol, rice syrup, etc.). Absolutely horrifying little bits of crap.

    Reply
  • Paige B. February 20, 2014, 9:12 am

    I’m so glad I found this blog. I am sharing with my friends and family STAT. I have been changing my family’s diet for about two years slowly. It started for me when my daughter began to develop prematurely. She was 3 years old and developing breasts! I cut out cow’s milk all together and replaced it with organic almond milk. I have seen a huge difference in the way she is developing now physically and emotionally. I have started buying only whole organic foods and (trying to) never buy anything packaged. I want her to grow up with knowledge and discipline about food/fuel. We have to teach our kids the truth about chemicals and harmful additives and chemicals in certain food before they can be brainwashed by big food companies. I’m always looking for information to increase my food knowledge. Thank you for your blog!

    Reply
  • Veena Anantha April 2, 2014, 9:05 pm

    Thank you so much for this write up! I wanted to start this diet for 2 weeks but before that wanted to check how safe it is, luckily your blog saved me.
    Will promise myself only to eat natural food.
    Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Isha April 14, 2014, 11:41 am

    Thank u so much for the information.
    I’m eating Kellogs K for the past 1 year. Didn’t loose even 1 kg.
    I’m not eating outside food. I cook food at home. After reading ur blog I’ll stop eating kellog’s K.
    please suggest what should i do to loose weight.
    thanks a lot again :)

    Reply
    • Bruce Bradley April 16, 2014, 10:18 pm

      Losing weight can be really challenging, and every person’s situation is different. The basic principles I believe in are (1) eat real food focusing on eating more plants (veggies, legumes, fruits), (2) avoid processed foods … even those that are supposedly “lite” or healthy, (3) watch your portions, and (4) get more exercise. Pretty basic advice … but if followed, it works like a charm! Best of luck!

      Reply

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about.me

Bruce Bradley

Bruce Bradley

I'm a father, food advocate, consultant, and author.

Bruce is a former processed food exec turned food advocate, blogger, and author.

Before his food advocacy work, Bruce worked for over fifteen years as a marketer at companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco. As one of the only former processed food marketers actively speaking out about concerns over the food we eat, the media often seeks Bruce out for his honest perspective. His 2011 interview, Confessions of a former Big Food Executive, was one of Grist online's Top 10 clicked stories for 2011.

Bruce now writes, performs speaking engagements, and provides business strategy and marketing consultant services to help ethical, sustainable businesses reach their potential.

Bruce graduated with an MBA from Duke University and a B.A. from Davidson College. Born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, he now lives in Minneapolis, MN with his son and their dog, Katie.

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