Pizza is a vegetable…really?


For this week’s post, I asked my fellow dietitian Reena Panjwani MS, RD, who is a community nutritionist at a nonprofit serving HIV/AIDS clients for a little help. You can follow her on instagram/twitter @reensgreensRD (cute right?) and check out her blog at !

Reena and I went on a movie date to watch the food documentary (nerdy, we know) Fed Up . We decided to write this post together to give you a little recap of our experience and to inform others of what is happening in the world of food today, how it affects you (because it does), and what to do about it.

fed up photo


We understand it is hard to get into food documentaries. They’re scary and boring, we get it. And often times the people watching these films are usually the ones who care about it already. But they already know this stuff.

So how do we reach those who are uninterested? Well, the reality is that we all eat food (we hope!), and this one is worth watching because it impacts all of us.

Fed Up unveils the root cause of the obesity epidemic…

Consider this:

  • 98% of food-related ads that children view are for products high in fat, sugar, and sodium.
  • America’s school-lunch law counts the tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable.
  • Oh this one is real good- “Ronald McDonald never sells to children—he informs and inspires through magic and fun,” said a Mcdonald’s representative.

Disturbing? Yea we thought so too 

Childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing and will continue to do so.

For the first time, children are predicted to die earlier than their parents.  30 years ago, type 2 diabetes in children did not exist and actually used to be referred to as “adult-onset diabetes”, which is now a thing of the past.

In the U.S., approximately 151,000 people below the age of 20 are suffering from type 2 diabetes. At this rate, it is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans will suffer from diabetes by the year 2050.

Diabetes is no fun for anyone.

 The movie Fed Up”shifts the blame for this epidemic from the consumer (people just like you and us) to Congress, the food industry, and U.S. public schools. It was long thought that the obesity problem would be solved if we all just exercised more and ate healthier. So we tried to buy “healthier” items at the store: 100 calorie packs, low-fat and fat-free xyz, but we noticed that nothing changed.

Fed up debunks the misconception that a calorie is a calorie and that diet and exercise will solve the epidemic. It looks further into the role that sugar plays in our diet today. There are countless (600,000) food items out there and 80% with added sugar. Americans are now consuming 130 pounds of sugar each year (whoa) and much of it is hidden in processed foods sodas, juices, and “energy drinks.”

kid tested

So it’s no surprise that more and more people are confused about how to make healthy food choices.

The food industry knows that we want “healthier” options with fewer calories, so they have responded by making it even more confusing by slapping claims on their packaging such as “fat free”, “low calorie”, “low carb”, “whole grain”, or “high fiber”. These claims are deceptive because ultimately the ingredients are still processed from the same subsidized crops, and have few health benefits or they have compensated for flavor by added sugar.

supermakret junk

We have a food policy in place now that controls much of what we eat. The big food industry has a lot of pull (read: money) in Congress, and most of our food products come from government subsidized crops, the biggest being corn (aka high fructose corn syrup aka sugar), wheat, and soybeans. In other words, sugar is cheap, people like it, let’s use it in whatever we can.

So what can we do now?

Spread the word, raise public awareness, and educate ourselves and our children.

Next time you hear a study about making the claim that soda is not linked to obesity, take a further look at who is sponsoring the study. Read with a critical mindset. Why would a soft drink company sponsor a study that went against what they’re trying to sell?

When you go food shopping, take a look at the ingredient list when you pick a packaged item up. Is there a long list of ingredients you cannot pronounce? Is sugar the first ingredient? Are there added colors and dyes? The more unrecognizable ingredients, the more likely we would say to chuck it!

Screen shot 2014-06-06 at 11.12.22 AM

Just in case you were curious, this is the ingredient list from Nutrigrain strawberry yogurt bar

Look at the nutrition facts and hone in on the sugar – keep in mind one teaspoon of sugar is 4g. Does your cereal say 28g of sugar per serving? Divide that by 4g (1 teaspoon) and you have 7 teaspoons of sugar. Would you add 7 packets of sugar into your morning milk?

sugar teapsoon

We have a lot of purchasing power as consumers, and the less we buy of the sugar-laden processed “foods” that are on our shelves, the less money these big companies make. It might seem like a long road ahead, but if enough people educate themselves and realize that they are “fed up”, we can really have a big impact.

Why do we live in a society where we make it so difficult for parents to feed their kids well?

As professionals who help others make healthier choices everyday and who are always advocating for the health of the public, we’re pretty fed up and hope you are too.

Check out the trailer here,and to find out if Fed Up is playing in a theater near you click here. Our post is just a snapshot of some of the issues we’re dealing with. Hope you get a chance to watch it, we would love your feedback.

Have you watched Fed Up? Do you read labels when you go food shopping? Which foods at the market confuse you the most?

Happy and healthy food shopping (and label reading!!),

Reena and Joanna


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