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What's Really in Our Food?

In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, Eat It to Beat It!, Men’s Fitness consulting editorial director David Zinczenko answers that question.

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Imagine if waiters told you the truth about your dinner order. They’d probably start like this:

“Hi, folks! Thanks for dining with us tonight! We’ve got some delicious specials for you. Our featured pizza comes on a dough built partially from plastic foam; topped with human hair, duck feathers, and the desiccated abdomens of beetles; and finished with a delicate dusting of silicon dioxide—you know it as sand. And for the kids, we have a yummy selection of ice creams blended with wood shavings and flavored with extract from the anal scent glands of beavers. And, as always, your meal comes with a chef’s selection of more than half a dozen chemicals that are only suspected of causing—but let me emphasize, have not yet been 100 % proven to cause—obesity, hyperactivity, asthma, cancer, and diabetes!”

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Wait, Can This All Be True?

Are we feeding our kids anal scent glands and human hair? Yes, in fact, as well as more than 3,000 natural and artificial chemicals approved by the Food and Drug Administration as preservatives, additives, and artificial and “natural” flavorings. (Wood chips, beaver anuses, and beetle bellies are natural, so they’re among the “natural” ingredients you might be enjoying with your “healthy” dinner tonight.)

So if you’re wondering why watching your weight has become so challenging—why all the diet foods and the low-carb this and low-fat that aren’t making a difference—it might have to do with something more than your willpower. It might have to do with the fact that much of the food we’re buying is filled with things that only vaguely qualify as “food,” and that marketers and manufacturers are using a remarkable array of tricks, tools, and tactics to fool us into buying their products.

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In fact, as more and more Americans become health-conscious—as we spend more time reading labels and looking for “whole foods,” “organic foods,” and “natural foods” (not to mention gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, unsweetened, low-fat, dairy-free, and no-high-fructose-corn-syrup-added foods), marketers have become even more savvy at finding ways to force-feed us things that can make us fat, without our even knowing.

You can follow any diet plan out there, but unless you know exactly what’s in your food, no diet is really going to make a difference, at least not in the way you’d hope. Not until you learn how to Eat It to Beat It!

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