What to do with WhoNu (and other imposter "health" foods)?

Have you seen the commercial for WhoNu nutrition rich cookies?  How about the Splenda commercials touting the extra fiber or B vitamins added in each yellow packet?  What we have here are companies hoping to make us feel at ease about foods that are not-so-great.  Two words:  Please stop.

I’m all for a good cookie (OK… cookies)—perhaps more than many dietitians, but these types of foods (treats infused with nutrients to make us feel better about eating them) drive me nuts.

 From the WhoNu website:

According to Suncore, makers of WhoNu, the cookies have 3 grams of fiber + 20 essential vitamins and minerals. 

Sure, the product delivers manufactured nutrients in the chocolate chip or sandwich cookie (actually you need to eat 3 cookies to get what’s advertised) but, and this is a big “but” – these cookies are not something to feel good about eating. 

·       The ingredient list is nothing to brag about.  Trans fats, artificial flavors, and plenty of sugar (including high fructose corn syrup) + an artificial sweetener are part of each morsel. 

·       The “nutrition” comes from isolated nutrients picked up and plopped into a highly processed food.  Is that as good as the fiber found naturally in oatmeal, the vitamin C found naturally in blueberries, the iron found naturally in spinach?  Nope. 

·       Oatmeal, blueberries, spinach , carrot juice, milk and the other wholesome foods listed for comparison contain the nutrients called out in this picture, but science suggests these nutrients do not work their health magic in isolation.  They likely help our health because of the company they keep – i.e. all the other nutrients naturally found in oatmeal, blueberries, spinach, etc.   Single nutrients aren’t what make us healthy – it’s the full package of nutrients found naturally in wholesome foods that give our bodies a boost. 

·       Whole foods offer more than the vitamins and minerals we know about.  They also contain hundreds of phytonutrients (a special class of nutrients such as lycopene, quercetin, etc.) that take the food /health connection to a whole new level.  No cookie or sugar sweetener would ever be able to capture those effects.


So, skip WhoNu, supercharged Splenda and other imposters of "healthier" food indulgences.   

If you want  a cookie(s), make it the real deal and enjoy every less-than-healthy bite of it.  Just keep the 80/20 rule in mind.  80% of the time – you’re toeing the line with a plate filled of tasty, wholesome, real, healthful food.  20% of the time—indulgence kicks in.  For that 20%, bring on the good stuff--buttery, ooey, gooey sweet treats (or whatever your Achilles heel may be).