I watched part of an Oprah show a while back (it might have been a rerun) in which Oprah and her fitness guru, Bob Green, went to Mississippi to save the residents of “the fattest state in America.” Oprah, who has famously had her own troubles in that regard, was well aware of the irony of her attempt to give out advice on weight loss. She magnanimously absolved Mr. Green of any blame for her most recent relapse and took sole responsibility while vowing to try harder.

One of the five people chosen as the focus of her Mississippi mission was a 600-pound man who was shown eating his new “healthy” breakfast: a bowl of cereal, a banana, and a glass of orange juice. Then he headed off for a full day of exercise at the gym, loaded up with insulin that would make it really difficult to move any of that fat out of storage and actually burn it.

Shortly after this segment aired, there was an insert in the Sunday papers advertising products bearing Bob Green’s Best Life logo. The list was heavy on processed, pseudo-foods such as egg substitutes, low-fat mayo, and soy milk. [The second ingredient in the Yoplait® Light yogurt is high-fructose corn syrup. The Fiber One Oats and Chocolate™ bar lists different kinds of sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, seven times in the ingredients. But they are low-fat, and that’s all that seems to matter.]

You can see what Oprah eats in her Seven Day Food Dairy on her Website: Her menu includes soy-veggie burgers, low-fat mayo, cereal, fruit, rice, potatoes, bananas, small amounts of lean chicken and turkey, Barilla® pasta, Yoplait® Light yogurt, and Slim-fast® shakes. Here is a sample (Day 6):

Breakfast: Oprah’s Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast: 1 Yoplait Light yogurt with 1 mango, blueberries, and walnuts

Snack: ½ pita dipped in 1/3 cup hummus

Lunch: Arugula, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad, 2 ounces fresh mozzarella in ½ pita

Snack: 2 ounces turkey breast, 1 grilled red pepper

Dinner: I can Slim-Fast® Optima®, 1 banana, 6 ice cubes, 3 tablespoons trail mix

Add several hours of heavy exercise and it’s not surprising that she once complained about being so ravenous that she ate the lemon slice in her tea, peel and all. In spite of having every resource money and fame can buy, she can’t tolerate hunger any better than the rest of us.

Eat less, move more does work for a while for those with very high motivation, such as a deal with Weight Watchers or a reality show prize, but even high-profile celebrities with lucrative contracts and careers at stake don’t always succeed in the long haul. The bottom line is that those who can lose weight by calorie and fat restriction and strenuous exercise are doing it the hard way. If you cut out sugar and starchy carbs, hunger is no longer an issue and exercise becomes a choice not a necessity. The weight Oprah needs to lose is the 175 pounds called Bob Green.

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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16 years ago

Great post. I had to stop watching Oprah, bc I just couldn’t take it anymore! This poor woman – GCBC needs to be in her library, and her book club.

Judy Barnes Baker
16 years ago

Hi Susanj.

I’m glad you liked the post.

I am a big fan of the People’s Pharmacy as well. I agree that most of us are deficient in vitamin D. I live in the Northwest where we don’t get much sun; I started taking 2,000 units of D3 per day last summer and I noticed how much it helped my mood through the gloomy months of this past winter. I had a blood test to be sure I wasn’t getting too much and the Dr. commented that my level was excellent. Here’s a great site for information on vitamin D:

Thanks for the comment.

16 years ago

I agree with Anonymous. This was an excellent post. Thanks so much! Going low-carb the last 3 months has totally convinced me that I did not gain weight for emotional reasons.

On another subject, the other day I listened to this People’s Pharmacy broadcast on Vitamin D. show

(1) It turns out you can have your Vitamin D levels checked and find out how much supplement you need

(2) Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia and/or exacerbate fm

Judy Barnes Baker
16 years ago

To Anonymous:
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Many medical “experts” blame the patient when their advice doesn’t work.

Have you read “Good Calories, Bad Calories?” Gary Taubes does a great job of explaining that it is hormones that determine whether fat gets burned or stored and it’s carbs that drive fat storage.

Thanks for writing and best of luck.

16 years ago

Thank you, thank you, for putting into words what I have thought for quite some time. The participants in Oprah’s last Best Life challenge seemed to me to be so unhappy. All of the emphasis on discovering/uncovering the emotional reasons why people overeat is frustrating to me. Oprah and Bob seem to believe that everyone who is overweight has big emotional issues. I know plenty of fat folks who do not, myself included. It’s never occured to them that people may “overeat” because they’re hungry all the time from following the low fat, high carb diets prescribed by ‘experts’ such as they. And the insistence that people must exercise to lose weight is very discouraging to those who cannot due to physical disabilities. I have muscular dystrophy, and gained approximately 80 pounds on prednisone, prescribed for a misdiagnosed condition. I began a low carb program in hopes of getting the weight off, and it’s been the only program that’s worked for me. This is on my own, of course; my neurologist, in response to my complaint that I was ravenous on the prednisone, actually offered me a Krispy Kreme doughnut that they had in the office! My blood sugar and blood pressure was rising, I weighed nearly 290 pounds and I’m offered poison pods! (nope, I don’t go there any longer)