Marketing fads and their toll on health

Ever been influenced to buy something based on it being marketed as something “healthy” for you?

Marketing is a necessity for many essential and vitally important items that the consumer needs to be aware of. Whether you see it in “sale” flyers on goods you desire, or in advertisements regarding a new drug being released for a condition you suffer from, it’s important to do further homework before purchasing.

Just because a marketing campaign has caught your eye with claims of being the healthiest thing on the market, or suggesting unbelievable results, doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for you.

This is where I mindfully take two steps back and analyze what the product is, the way in which it’s being promoted, the credibility of who is promoting it, and what potential role it could play in assisting or derailing my health.

Marketing campaigns can be described by many adjectives: straight-forward, misleading, catchy, and fanciful. In law, I always learned to read the fine print. Where is the asterisk leading to? That info tucked away in a footnote is usually put in tiny font for a reason and it’s highly worth reading.

What I am relaying are just a few marketing campaigns promoting “healthy” items that have caught my eye and tempted my wallet in recent years. Some of which I’ve jumped on the bandwagon (at the time) and others I steered clear of (more common these days).

First and foremost, its key to identify what your goals are. Write them down, set a plan, and try to not deviate from the plan.

One of my biggest examples are juice cleanses. Have I done a 5 – 7 day ‘cleanse’ in the past?

What is it cleansing and how will this cleanse influence me after the fact? Namely, what benefits will it provide six months or 2 years down the road? What would my doctor’s advice be?  Is this a long-term solution or better yet, what would be?  These are all legitimate questions.

What enticed me to buy and do these cleanses was the marketing efforts that deemed it the ‘in’ thing, promising more energy and upon completion, a “smoother, tighter, flatter” mid-section. No doubt. I don’t recall any profound results. Some of the ingredients are known to aid in digestion.

Those juice cleanses did not provide me with long-term benefits.

What has provided me with key lasting benefits is commitment to my health and following a plan. Cooking with healthy fats, preparing lean meats and fish dishes, consuming vegetables, fueling up with slow-burning carbs, enjoying fresh fruit in moderation, and staying hydrated with water.

It does not include a lot of alcohol, habits that impact my lungs or other organs, consuming packaged treats high in carbs, fat, or sugar, and pulling ‘all-nighters’.

It doesn’t include warding off meals for endless days and substituting in a juice cleanse. Never again.

All combined these are integral parts of my journey and commitment to health. Long lasting, immune boosting things are important to me. Having my annual lab work, an EKG (yes, I’ve recently had one), and the desire to do my best to minimize my acquisition or the exacerbation of illness and disease that is hereditary in my family (a long list).

Here’s the thing. I do like juices – but not all of them that were in that daily cleanse pack. I can honestly say now, umpteen years later, I am aware of the nutrients and properties of what I’d call a “clean green juice.” An example of this includes one with kale, spinach, ginger, lemon, and apple. These green juices are weaved in and out of my lifestyle and my eating regimen. Particularly when I’m on the go and needing to fuel up on more greens, when I’m a little under the weather, and also when I’m just craving one at a farmer’s market.  The one pictured below is a clean green juice, absolutely perfect and healthy. One of my favorites.

The other ones I used to drink, along with the good green juices, had me thinking, “How am I going to stomach this?”  No matter how long you mentally prepare, it’s still just as rough. Who was I doing this for? Not myself. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to myself by consuming these and not eating whole foods. I was just expending money to feel like I was in the ‘it’ crowd while dreaming about my figure and the ‘cleansing’ results after the allotted time ended! So marketing won in this instance and the ultimate result was that I was able to say “I did it!” (Or I survived).

Present day, I’ll enjoy a fresh (1 ingredient) watermelon juice. I like it. I’m also aware of the amount of natural sugar in it too. This is what I consider a treat. I can put it in that bucket. I pair it with an egg white veggie omelet and a side of breakfast protein and it works for me.

I guess I really try to stay balanced. Staying balanced doesn’t equate to letting marketing campaigns dictate my health.

Working to find balance in our lives is a worthy task.  I wish I had valued it to a higher degree earlier in life.  Now, I do place a top priority on it. It’s yet another thing worth instilling in the next generation.

We can easily become burnt out – which is where a lot of marketing campaigns swoop in to pull you out of your funk, for a small price.    With the “30 day guarantee” to “boost fat burning.”

I don’t need the most expensive piece of cardio equipment to move my body, nor the next best protein powder or the newest electronics. Call me old-fashioned but – those things don’t define me or guide me to better health. All it takes is motivation and consistency.

Most things can’t be fixed in 30 days, well at least when it comes to health. From a car perspective, surely, a new set of tires, a tune up and oil change can get you from 0 to 100 really quick.

When we look back to our ancestors – they didn’t need all that jazz. An elder of mine and I were speaking about dog treats the other day. She was sharing how common it was when she was growing up for animals on her family ranch to be fed real human scraps. We do understand that the overall health of that serving could be mixed depending on who was preparing it. We’re talking about a bowl with a mix of meat protein, potatoes, vegetables, etc.

Do you pay attention to the marketing campaigns geared toward your furry friends? I do and it’s baffling. Baffling as in – how are these companies allowed to even sell some of these products?

Some brands encourage you to check out their facts. Others hide concerning words on the back of the product, hoping you just buy and feed to your pet. Some brands have the bare minimum – good luck finding a “best used by date” or what country it originated from.

Please always read the packaging, check the barcodes, look at the dates, and reach out to company’s customer service departments. Here are two dog treats… One I buy and one I would never consider buying as it isn’t even considered safe for humans. And they want me to feed it to my dog?

Let this also be a reminder how so many “human treats” are just as toxic. Whole ingredient products are harder to come by, these are ones that have ingredients that you recognize and can pronounce. If you can’t find ones that suit your requirements for your pet, why not try making it? Recipes abound.

In regards to human food, minimizing preservatives is always a good thing. One example is how easy it is to make homemade soup versus buying the canned variety. Think water, bouillon or fresh meat broth, leftover veggies in your refrigerator, leftover meat if desired, and season with garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, salt and pepper! Voila – likely a healthier option than canned and most items are already in our kitchens. It’s a great way to use up leftovers!

I think it’s a great decision to prepare homemade meals, snacks, and more and freeze for those times when the family is busy. If you keep things simple, they take less time to make, are more budget friendly, and can be refrigerated or frozen and easily accessible.

Another hotly marketed item is smoothies! Beware of smoothies, I say. This blended beverage (though frequently marketed as a meal replacement) is not a substitute for a balanced meal. Not all smoothies are really healthy for you. It depends which way you want to look at it, but a meal from a fast-food joint could be better nutrition-wise.

If you’re buying and adding the ingredients into the blender, fully aware of the nutrition label, then they can be healthier. Once in a blue moon I’ll make a smoothie with Fage 2% Greek yogurt (learned that low-fat is better than no-fat or full-fat from a great, experienced personal trainer), a handful of spinach, some ginger, and a handful of berries (strawberries or blackberries). Water is always a great added base or you can find a low calorie, low sugar drink to mix in (diet Ocean Spray flavors are a good choice).

Having a store-bought smoothie once in awhile can also be placed in my earlier-referenced hypothetical bucket. Ryan Andrews confirmed in Time’s piece, sharing “Once in a while, these aren’t a major concern.  But if these types of smoothies are in your regular rotation, they could lead to excessive sugar intake or digestive distress.”*

Food for thought. Literally.

“With store-bought smoothies you lose control over quality and quantity of the ingredients used,”* said Miranda Hammer.

Acai bowls. Gasp! I wish I could just leave it at that. Something I recently heard was: “Eat the acai, leave the rest.”  So true!

Acai bowls are commonly 20 to 32 ounces, tailored by the consumer and can include berries, granola, coconut flakes, honey, banana, almond butter, chia, Nutella, chocolate chips…  It’s common to even see “Oreo” acai bowls. Come on…

This is marketing at its best. Taking something that could potentially be deemed healthy and twisting and turning it to literally convince you that you want it because it has your favorite childhood cookie in it or it has 3 servings of honey and peanut butter galore. It defeats the purpose of what I believe is the original intent of acai.

Fortunately or unfortunately, my brain goes into “nutritional evaluation” overdrive when it comes to beverages, snacks and meals. I look at it as a blessing that I have the knowledge, but sometimes it’d be nice to quiet that noise down! A quick snapshot of that nutrition: high in sugar, high in carbs, antioxidants, and whoa – more calories in the serving than one needs for two meals. puts it perfectly stating that an average 16 ounce acai bowl is “the equivalent of two and a half jelly donuts.”* The dietician who lent her knowledge also suggests that the consumer can control the nutrition facts by making it at home.

Not the healthy meal you thought anymore? For me, I’d rather reach for a Fage yogurt with a few sliced berries and a ½ teaspoon of flaxseed. Give it a try. It’s a satisfying, cost efficient dessert option that won’t give you a sugar high.

What I have learned through my own health and food journey is that a flurry of marketing campaigns for snacks, meals, and drinks should not be recognized as a “complete meal” unless you are composing it yourself.

Sugar (natural sugar too), makes me reach for more food. It’s a dangerous cycle and one I’ve fortunately broken. It’s taken time and a proactive effort. We all have our struggles when it comes to food and healthy habits.

This is a good opportunity to look at your day, your shopping habits and examine why you buy what you do. I agree that good deals are hard to pass by, but, if it’s solely because you see a flat stomach model on the posterboard behind the product – maybe look into it more and intuitively verify the authenticity and validity of it.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to feel healthier, lose weight, sleep better, or get through the work day. The results you’re looking for can be achieved in more minimalistic ways.

A great example is how easy it is to access free workouts on platforms like YouTube. With a few free sign ups to recipe websites, you can get easy meal ideas delivered to your inbox (think crockpot or one pan oven dishes)! One example is I just found a delicious oven-baked chicken pesto dish with veggies (literally 5 ingredients and great for a night in).  And with a book, a puzzle, or literally just turning the lights low and winding down earlier, you can create your own Zen space and work on positive thinking, meditation, or how you want to feel/look/think in the coming days to months.

You may not be doing yourself any favors by leaning into the marketing campaigns that ask you to skip breakfast and pick up an acai bowl for lunch and finish out your day spending top dollar at a cycling studio.

I hope this post allows you the opportunity and newfound perspective to review how big of a role marketing plays in your life. How these marketing agencies define health is likely not how your doctor defines health.

You don’t need to spend top dollar or get sucked into marketing campaigns to lead your healthiest life. Don’t equate good health with the latest marketing campaign.

Before buying another round of supplements, getting full blood work and communicating with your health care professional should be first on the list. Make sure you are only taking what supplements you truly need.

Lab work helps you understand if and in what areas you are deficient. Just because a supplement is endorsed by a well-known figure with a huge “following” on social media, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

We’ve come to learn that many well-known figures are given the opportunities to promote / endorse a brand because of the number of followers they have, not because they really use the product, not because they believe in the product, not because they are thinking about the consumer. It’s all about the dollar signs.

I love when a person endorses a brand and you know they fully back it and 100% swear by it. It’s rare, but that earns a lot of respect in my book. So admirable.

Your health, body, and mind are long-term investments, so why invest in short-term answers or fixes that marketing campaigns throw at you?  It’s a real slippery slope.

You’re not going to fail by saying no to marketing. Little secret: there’s no miracle to having the best health ever and avoiding all illnesses or we’d all be doing it.

The next cleanse, reset, or detox you see – mentally revert back to this statement, “Most experts agree that smoothies (or any food, for that matter) aren’t the solution – and that the human body has its own resources (namely the liver, kidneys and GI system) to cleanse itself naturally. There’s also no solid scientific evidence to suggest the idea of a detox for overall health or well-being.”**



**Are smoothies healthy? Here’s what the experts say. Time Magazine, Nov. 2018:


Coming next: Your past does not have to dictate your future


What current marketing efforts sway you to purchase?  Do you stop and consider your health first?  

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