There’s A Difference Between ‘Natural’ and ‘Diet’ Food

packaged and plated-14.jpg

'Diet foods' - one of those things that we're all quite aware of, but it's not until you start to delve into the products, their ingredient lists and their mass popularity that you start to realise just how big of a problem they are. I think we've all been there, right? To some level or another, we've experimented with, used and put all of our hopes of looking like 'the people in the magazines' into at least one of the diet products in the market. Which, just to reiterate, generally fall into one of the following categories:   

- Slimfast                                      
- Meal Replacement Shakes      
- Fat free foods                           
- Low-fat foods                         
- Carb-free foods
- Weight Watchers + ‘sin-free’ food
- Diet pills/appetite suppressants
- Low Calorie snacks  

I'm sure we're not alone in the 'tried them all' category, and truth be told, they were all absolutely miserable. Yet despite an overwhelming feeling of ‘HOW did we do that to our bodies?!’ they're still prevalent in the market - just with slightly better branding and packaging, and an 'influencer' backed campaign to support. 

But we're not here to rant about the diet industry (ok, we sort of are - but only a little bit), we're here to point out a much bigger point. This whole 'natural eating movement' is pretty often seen as just another diet trend, which is something we feel pretty strongly against, mainly for one reason: unlike these trends, we’re not trying to sell a quick fix - nor is it based more on marketing ploys than actual research and evidence. Of course we don’t speak for the whole movement (and note the lack of ‘clean eating’ in the statement) but as far as advocating a natural, whole food lifestyle, it seems slightly different to the likes of low fat or shake based diets.

Let’s explore further. To point out the stark differences between 'real' and 'diet' we've taken two popular diet 'lunch options' and compared the ingredients and nutritional info with one of our lunch boxes:   

meal replacement powder.jpg
diet meal.jpg
cut outs-1-10.png


Ingredients: Whey Protein Concentrate, Skimmed milk powder, Inulin, Natural flavourings, magnesium oxide, potassium chloride, ascorbic acid, mixed natural tocopherols, zinc gluconate, ferrous fumarate, vitamin K2-menaquinone, molybdenum chelate, manganese gluconate, beta carotene, cupric gluconate, nicotinamide, calcium d-pantothenate, pyridoxine hydro-chloride, thiamin hydrochloride, riboflavin, cholecalciferol, methylcobalamin, chromium picolinate, folic acid, potassium iodide, sodium selenite, d-biotin), xanthan gum, guarana extract, green tea extract, sunflower lecithin, sucralose, lactase 3,500 ALU, protease, vanilla seeds, bifidobacterium bifidum, lactobacillus acidophillus

Nutritional Info: 
Energy (kcal)             144kcal
Total Fat:                   2g
of which saturates    0.9g
Carbohydrate           7.9g
of which sugars        6.8g
Fibre                         3.1g
Protein                      22.9g
Salt                            0.4g


Ingredients: Egg noodles (wheat flour, calcium carbonate, iron, niacin, thiamin), pasteurised egg, tuna, peas, broccoli, red pepper, spinach, edamame, rapeseed oil, salt, turmeric, paprika, white wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar, ginger purée, lime leaf, soya, wheat flour, cornflour, mint, pectin, sunflower oil







Nutritional info: 
Energy kcal                 364kcal
Fat                                8.4g
Saturates                     1.1g
Carbohydrates           38.0g
of which sugars          11.4g
Fibre                            6.8g
Protein                        30.8g
Salt                              2.1g


Ingredients: Quinoa, sweet potato hummus, tahini dressing, beetroot, cabbage, rocket, apple cider vinegar, pomegranate seeds, beetroot powder, sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts, Himalayan salt.

Anything there you don't recognise? We didn't think so. 







Nutritional Info:
Energy kcal              485kcal
Fat                            22.7g
of which saturates    3.1g
Carbohydrate           46g
of which sugars        3.5g
Fibre                         10.5g
Protein                      19g
Salt                           1.4g

So what exactly does that mean? If you look at the nutritional info across all three products, you'll notice that ours is significantly higher (scandal). The shake comes in at only 144kcal, which is nothing more than unhealthy, malnourishing and quite simply irresponsible to market (in our humble opinion).

Looking at the salads however, our lunch box comes in higher across calories, fat and carbs - facts that are likely to put a lot of people off. But lets look at the stuff that we believe actually matters - we have less than half the sugar content, more fibre and significantly less salt. A quick glance at the ingredients list also differentiates processed carbs from slow release carbs and stabilised food from fresh. And it's these factors that differentiate between 'real food' and 'diet food'.

Here at Pollen, we never claim that our food leads to weight loss - we design based on real food, real flavours and a meal that will leave you feeling satisfied, nourished and full. The difference between this and a diet-lead design process is that one is designed for longevity, whereas calorie deficient meals are meant to be a quick fix (which I think we've all learnt by now is a bit of a myth). Natural food, and the wellness industry that we're a part of, care about your insides - the bit that counts. Diet foods are simply focusing on the exterior. Our advice? Love your insides, love your body and love delicious, tasty food. No diet-designed, sad salad (or meal replacement shake...) can't compete with that. 

pollen + grace