Despite my hope they would just be passing fads, I've learned "skinny" foods and drinks are hot again.
Many food companies and restaurants proudly boast their "skinny" menu items each contain "only" a certain amount of calories, instilling the belief that starting your day with a "skinny" latte, enjoying a "skinny" flatbread sandwich for lunch and ordering a "skinny" margarita at night will keep you within a designated calorie quota.
What many people fail to see, unfortunately, is that the sole focus on calorie count means "skinny" foods miss the boat on several issues that potentially wreak havoc on your waistline and health.
1. They neglect sugar impact.
When manufacturers cut calories, they usually reduce dietary fat which is higher in calories than carbohydrates or protein. Unfortunately, "skinny" often becomes euphemism for "lower fat, higher sugar."
"For decades, we blamed fat for making us fat," writes Dr. Mark Hyman. "It sounds so simple, right? Just cut out the fat and you'll get lean. Except while manufacturers touted their 'healthy' fat-free and low-fat Frankenfoods, added sugar was slipping in through the back door, and the consequences have wreaked havoc on our health and our waistlines."
2. They ignore hormonal impact.
Food is information. Focusing solely on calories neglects the hormonal underpinnings that signal your body to store fat. When you eat that "skinny" dessert and flood your body with sugar, your hormone insulin stores that excess sugar as fat. Other fat-regulating hormones eventually take a hit, leading to cravings, inflammation, and sugar's numerous other problems.
3. They cling to outdated science.
Calories matter, but quality matters more. "Thinking that all calories are the same is an antiquated notion," writes Dr. Frank Lipman. "With calories, as with diamonds, it's the quality that matters most and enhances their value."
4. They use artificial sweeteners.
To reduce calories, "skinny" foods sometimes resort to aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Among their many problems, artificial sweeteners can trigger sugar cravings, contribute to diabetes and adversely change the way your body responds to carbohydrates.
5. They create a halo effect.
"Bet you can't eat just one" might be the most potent marketing phrase ever, and it definitely applies here. "Skinny" items give the impression you're eating healthy, but one "skinny" margarita with friends can quickly become three because, hey, they're only 150 calories each! That halo effect will eventually take its toll on your waistline.
6. They neglect food intolerances.
Food intolerances could care less about calories. That "skinny" latte may only have 100 calories, but if you're lactose intolerant and react poorly to milk, drinking that morning latte will create cravings, weight loss resistance, inflammation, acne and other symptoms.
"Just like a bad one-night stand, [food intolerances] will give you a momentary high and leave you feeling depleted and depressed and craving more of these foods, which are often your food sensitivities," writes Dana James.
7. They drain your wallet.
Manufacturers and restaurants love "skinny." Besides sounding healthy, it allows them to cut portion size: a 400-calorie meal simply becomes a smaller, pricier portion of an original higher-calorie meal.
If you really want to "skinny" your meal, order a regular entree and split it with your friend or take half home. You'll save calories, overeating and cash. Just be aware that food intolerances, high-sugar impact foods and overeating even healthy foods can stall fat loss.
Hopefully "skinny" will fade like "fat-free" and other so-called healthy claims. What fat-loss marketing term are you tired of hearing to sell products?