There have been some eye-opening discoveries recently around dietary advice doled out by influencers on social media. It turns out that the food and beverage industry has been paying registered …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there and welcome to episode 195 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, taking control of your food choices.
There have been some eye opening discoveries recently around dietary advice doled out by social media influencers. And it turns out that the food and beverage industry has been paying registered dietitians to promote diet soda and sugar and supplements on Tiktok and Instagram. And while this may not come as a big surprise, it speaks to a much bigger issue.
The food industry is deliberately confusing us into eating more junk foods, so they make more money at the expense of our health and well being. In this episode, I’m going to shine a light on this quite alarming topic, in my opinion, and explain why it’s important to know who’s paying who to say what, and encourage you to take control of your own food choices.
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Okay, so taking control of your food choices. So I came across a really interesting investigative article recently that showed that the food industry is paying influencer dieticians to shape our eating habits. Registered Dietitians are being paid to post videos to promote diet soda, sugar and supplements on Instagram, and Tiktok.
So the food beverage and dietary supplement industries are paying dozens of registered dietitians that could collectively have like millions of social media followers to help sell their products and deliver industry friendly messages on Instagram and Tiktok.
According to this analysis by the Washington Post and the examination, which is a new nonprofit newsroom that specializes in global health reporting. So the analysis of thousands of posts found that companies and industry groups paid dieticians for content that encouraged viewers to eat candy, eat ice cream, and downplay the health risks of highly processed foods and pushed unproven supplements.
Messages that run counter to decades of scientific evidence about healthy eating. The review found that among 68 dietitians with 10,000 or more social media followers on Tiktok, and Instagram, about half had promoted food, beverages or supplements to their combined 11 million followers within the last year.
One particular registered dietitian from Vancouver, British Columbia, posted videos of herself eating ice cream and peanut butter cups, while telling people that denying themselves sugary foods will only make cravings worse.
These and other posts were paid for by the Canadian Sugar Institute. The trade group, which is funded by sugar producers, includes the videos on its Instagram page to in one video This woman held a glazed doughnut and chocolate chip cookie and she mocked advice to reduce sugar intake.
She said, “The best ways to cut sugar are with a knife with my hands and even with my teeth.” Another Dietitian with a large social media following from Vancouver posted a video on Instagram where she added a lollipop to a dinner plate.
And she told parents the strategy will prevent sweets obsession, and to help kids develop healthier eating relationships with food. And another Instagram video she told parents that they can make Halloween less stressful by allowing kids to eat as much candy as they want when they’re done trick or treating.
And she said this helps decrease the stash and makes it less of a big deal she wrote in the text alongside the video. Yes, they may barf but that’s a great life lesson for them. She was also paid by the Canadian Sugar Institute to promote these posts to create these posts and promote them.
Since last year, The Sugar Group has paid at least a dozen registered dietitians to post videos about sugar on Instagram. One person said if your kiddo is obsessed with sweets, they likely need more access to sweets rather than less. Wow, okay.
The food and beverage industry has for years nurtured a close relationship with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AMD). This is the trade group that oversees registered dieticians, which has accepted millions of dollars in donations from leading producers of soda, candy, and ultra processed foods including Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle.
The Academy has allowed these companies to provide continuing education courses to its dieticians and has invested in food industry stocks to the academy sponsors are American beverage, and Tate and Lyle, one of the world’s largest producers of high fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners.
So I just read a few blurbs from the article that came out about a week ago or so in the Washington Post, and I was really blown away by this. Like I know that registered dieticians AMD has been funded by these sugar companies and by the food industry, I’ve known about that.
I’ve also known that they teach their registered dieticians and give them courses on proper nutrition. And I’m using finger quotes proper nutrition meaning like, eat lots of sugar, it’s fine for you sugar isn’t bad. You know, you know, drink diet soda, that’s fine.
Kids should be eating more sugar, like all these things, in my opinion, are kind of crazy, right? The sugar, the food industry, sugar industry, food industry is blatantly influencing our food choices. They have billions of dollars to spend on marketing, and advertising. And they’re very influential.
They are supporting the community of registered dieticians out there. And now listen, not all registered dietitians buy into this. There’s a lot that don’t, but a lot of them do. The food industry also pays scientists to write research papers to promote their products as the healthier choices.
And the idea here is to keep us confused, right to make it impossible, for you really know what’s healthy and what’s not. Because if they keep us confused, then we buy more of their junk food. And I’m just going to call soda diet soda and sugar industry a bunch of junk food because I think it is because they make more money and it’s all about the bottom line.
And so they’ll spend billions of dollars, you know, in marketing and advertising and influencing to make it really confusing for us as human beings who are concerned about our health, right? They just want to sell you more of their foods so they make the food hyper palatable by loading it up with sugar and grains and vegetable oils and they don’t care about your health.
They just want to sell more food and they know this hyper palatable food. This highly processed food is amazing, tastes amazing and it’s really hard to stop eating it once you start and they know that you are going to crave this stuff so they make more and more and more of it. And you know they are just concerned about making more money regardless of whether it’s good for you or not.
Over the years, they’ve convinced us that things like meat and eggs are bad for us. And sugar and grains are good. So they don’t make money off of meat and eggs, right? I mean, there are companies that do, but it’s not highly subsidized like the sugar industry. Highly processed foods full of sugar and grains sell like crazy and they’re super cheap to make. This stuff is super cheap. So the profit margins are a lot higher than a steak or eggs or whatever.
A lot of these companies receive subsidies from the government to grow more grains to the federal government, at least here in the US has long subsidized America’s farmers, significantly affecting our food supply and what we eat as a whole.
The most highly subsidized crops corn, soy, wheat and rice are the most abundantly produced and most consumed, often in the form of these ultra processed foods. Sugar is also highly subsidized, which drives up prices even though sugar is widely over consumed.
Fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, receive very little subsidization. And Americans eat much less produce than recommended, we eat much more sugar than we should and much less fruit and vegetables than we should.
So this is all to say, listen, if you think that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has your best interests in mind, think again, if you think the US government considers your health a priority, think again.
Even the healthcare industry here in the US is highly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. Your doctor’s job isn’t to get you as healthy as possible. It’s to sell more drugs. Hey, Doc, I’m suffering from all these diseases of lifestyle, should I change my lifestyle? And the doc says, hey, no, here’s a pill that you can take every day for the rest of your life instead.
Listen, the cards are stacked against us. Okay, it’s time that you take things into your own hands, it’s time to take back control of your own food choices and your own health. How do you do this? You’ve got to make your own decisions about what you feel is good for you, and what you feel is healthy for you and what isn’t.
And if you’re paying attention to people on social media, fine, but no, who’s paying them to say what they’re saying. Now, full disclosure about me, I have zero paid relationships, I do zero advertising of any kind of food products or supplements or anything like that. I don’t receive any money from anybody.
I have this coaching business that I freaking love. And that’s it. The only thing you’re gonna hear me talk about from a promotion standpoint here. I have on occasion mentioned certain supplements like LMNT, which is a sugar free electrolyte drink mix. I mentioned it because I use it. I like it. And it works great.
But I don’t have a paid relationship with them. I don’t advertise their products. You know, like I said, if I mentioned something, it’s because I recommend it to my clients and I use it.
And by the way, there’s another electrolyte drink that I really love. It’s called Redmond Real Light. And it’s by Redmond, the salt company. And so they make this electrolyte drink that is really tasty. And it comes in a little tub. So you can scoop out the amount that you want, which is a little bit different than LMNT which comes in packets. So they’re like pre portioned packets.
Anyway, that’s about the extent of my promotion right there. So you got to pay attention to who’s paying who to say what, right. Someone mentions a study, be sure to see who funded the study. I recently came across a study on the health benefits of canola oil. And then I skipped to the end and I see that this study quote unquote study was funded by The Canola Council.
And listen, canola oil, it’s a highly refined industrial seed oil. It’s been linked to higher inflammation, negative impacts on memory and heart health. It’s just not something I believe is healthy. Even if some of the stuff they’re talking about isn’t quite true. There’s enough evidence out there to say it’s probably best to stay away from canola oil and other industrial seed oils like that.
So pay attention to who’s saying what. Pay attention, who’s paying for the study? Who’s paying for the message? Who’s paying for that health care advice that your doctors are giving you? Is it the pharmaceutical industry? Does he have a certain number of, you know, prescriptions he has to write for pills every month? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
But I’m just telling you, we have to take things in our own hands. Right, you have agency in your life, you’re in charge of your own health. If eating candy for dinner, giving your kids candy with their dinner sounds like a bunch of BS to you then go with your gut on that one. Okay?
If you think eating steak and eggs for breakfast sounds good, and that feels good. It helps you to stay lean and strong, keeps you full all day, helps you lose weight and improves your blood markers. Do that, okay?
My suggestion is always like, let’s eat more like we always have been as human beings. You know, two and a half million years of evolution, humans have been eating kind of the same things, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, and we’ve we’ve not had highly processed foods loaded with sugar, and grains and seed oils, those things are new, those things have only been around for 50 to 100 years or so. Maybe less in some cases.
And so for the food industry to say this stuff is really awesome for you, you should be eating more highly processed foods that have sugar, grains and seed oils in them. I would just say like, I don’t know about that. And I would just question that. It doesn’t mean you can never eat a piece of pizza again, or never eat a candy bar or whatever. Like it’s okay to do that.
I mean, but geez, we got to be careful. And don’t confuse like the occasional Snickers with thinking that that’s healthy for you. Right. And a lot of these messages that they’re promoting out there are saying, hey, this stuff is actually healthy for you that canola oil, the refined grains, the sugar, and I just I don’t I don’t feel good about that doesn’t feel right to me.
And listen, it doesn’t matter what like diet you follow, you know, if you want to eat more plant based, and that feels good to you, and that works for you. And that promotes good health for you do that if you want to eat more of an animal based diet, and that makes you feel good. And that promotes good health for you, do that.
That part to me is less important than staying away from the stuff that is clearly junk food that is clearly processed that is clearly not healthy for you. The right diet is one that works for you, you know the one that you feel good about, but you have to take control here.
You can see what people are talking about out there on the internet. But be mindful and be skeptical. I think having healthy skepticism is really good for you. You know, it’s a good thing to look at who’s paying for these people to say these things, right?
Take back control of your health, take back control of your food choices. Do what feels right for you to become the healthiest and most badass version of yourself yet. Okay. That is your charge for this week. Take back control.
Okay, and as always, if you’re looking for help with any of this stuff, we can talk about coaching, just head over to runningleancoaching.com and click on Work With Me, fill out an application, we’ll have a conversation and we’ll see if coaching is a good fit for you. If it is great. If not, that’s cool, too. All right. That’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I will talk to you soon.