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“The Big Junk Food Test”

by Courtney on November 10, 2010

Since yesterday’s “Twinkie Diet” post attracted so much attention, today comes a follow-up post of sorts that I thought you might all find equally interesting…

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Coincidentally, I happened to by reading my November issue of Glamour magazine yesterday, when I came across an article that quickly caught my eye:

The Big Junk Food Test”

In the article, 31-year old Beth Shapouri agrees to follow 1 week of a very unique “diet” –

**Eat only the foods she sees on TV for one week.**

Staying within a limit of 2,000 calories a day, Shapouri began filling her meals with anything she found on TV:

    • Dulce de leche doughnuts
    • Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
    • Subway Steak & Bacon Melt
    • Cheetos
    • Jimmy Dean Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuits
    • Totino’s Pizza Rolls
    • Nutrigrain Bars
    • V8 Juice
    • Arby’s Jr. Deluxe Sandwiches
    • Olive Garden’s Parmesan-Polenta Crusted Chicken
    • Frosted Mini Wheats
    • KFC fried-chicken meal
    • Starbursts & KitKats

The main premise of the article was to show the negative effects of a diet that consists mainly of foods that are advertised on TV. While many of these foods were packaged and processed, some of the foods also came from chain restaurants.

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However, what I found most interesting in this article, which was missing from the Twinkie Diet article, is a timeline of how Shapouri felt from the beginning of Day 1, until the end of the week.

This seemed to be a common question that was brought up by many yesterday who read the Twinkie Diet article:

“Even though he lost weight, he couldn’t have been feeling well??”

So here are some recaps from Shapouri as to how she felt each day of her week-long “Junk Food TV Diet”:

Day 1 – A morning doughnut gave instant energy, but left her “ravenous and headachy” by 11:30 that morning. After consuming the Wendy’s salad seen above (which has 39 grams of sugar!!), she became too tired to complete her afternoon workout.

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Day 2 – She added protein to her morning meal to try to head off an energy crash which worked better. After eating the pizza rolls (seen above) for lunch, another headache sets in. After consulting a doctor, she finds out that the chemicals in the food, combined with a lack of vitamins and nutrients, are the culprit of her headaches and exhaustion. Her afternoon workout “felt like an eternity.”

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Day 3 – Her depression from the lack of fruits & veggies in her diet causes her to sneak bites of her friend’s fresh sandwich. After consuming a heavy meal at the Olive Garden that evening, laden with cheese, she found herself in “a fat-and-cream-induced coma” just minutes later.

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Day 4 – She can’t get enough water at this point…all of the salt in the foods is leaving her parched. She also determined that she had 2 hunger modes: (1) desperately starving, and (2) uncomfortably stuffed. Another phone call to a doctor helped her understand that the excess fat was making her feel fuller, but since she was consuming more sweets, her blood sugar was spiking & crashing…usually around the time the full feeling wore off.

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Day 5 – Shapouri woke up “foggy” and soon begins to notice that “easy” tasks were making her overly anxious. Not only that, but she became a self-proclaimed “klutz” (i.e., increase in typos, motor skills were uncoordinated, tripping over her own feet in Zumba class…) A third phone call to the doctor informed her that all the fat, sugar, and salt in her diet were overstimulating the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. When the levels dropped, she became “anxious, unfocused, and uncoordinated.” The doctor followed up with saying that experiencing changes like these can happen after just one meal. ALSO by Day 5, some added fiber was needed…a Fiber One bar + Activia yogurt did the trick.

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Day 6 – She gained 1.5 pounds and had incredibly swollen hands, feet, and belly. Her mood was starting to take a turn for the worse, and her typos were not improving.

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Day 7 – Very interesting. Shapouri ate the same doughnut as on Day 1, but this time, it was not as sugary tasting. Apparently we get used to sweet flavors (and salty flavors) fast. This is why so many food companies now make “super-flavor-blasted” products…they need to keep the customers coming back for more. By day 7, she now has no problem finishing big portions, her headaches are gone, and she isn’t as thirsty. Unfortunately, this meant that her body was beginning to adjust to the TV diet. Scary indeed.

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Talk about interesting, right??

Shapouri said it took her three days to lose the extra bloat, and at least a week to get back to feeling satisfied by her pre- TV diet portions.

So while these findings may have been different from those of the Twinkie Diet, at least here we can see just how quickly the side effects of eating poor food choices can wreak havoc on the body. I can’t say I’m very surprised; I can only imagine how she must have felt after a week of eating all of this food, and I would think that Haub had to have felt the same way. I know how I feel after eating just one meal of these foods, let alone a whole week! :shock:

Question for the Morning:

What are your thoughts on THIS article??

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Di @ http://thetreadmilldiaries.com/ November 10, 2010 at 7:09 am

This article is more in line with what I’d expect. My experience is that my food choices either power me when good or drain/drag me down when bad. And the effects are pretty immediate. Here’s to good food!

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2 Mackenzie November 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

This is the sad part.. so many people are used to eating this way that they dont even realize how good they could feel if the just chose to be healthier. I was amazed at the amount of energy and how awake I felt when i started eating right again and I can def feel a sugar crash from even one small dessert.

Its sad that the food industry is so greedy that they will kill our health to make a buck..

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3 Savannah P November 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

Yikes, how scary is this.
I know that went I took my diet holistic and started staying away from the sugary processed goods I actually started being able to feel a weird coating on my tongue/smell the chemicals when I walked through the aisles of the grocery store. It seriously grossed me out!!!

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4 Amy @ Second City Randomness November 10, 2010 at 9:13 am

Yep…

…all I have to say is that sounds about right.

I wish the twinkie guy would have included a little more about this in his study.

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5 Katie H. November 10, 2010 at 9:15 am

Ick… so gross. It is interesting to see how quickly her body adjusted to the fat and sugar in the foods. Yikes!

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6 Lauren November 10, 2010 at 9:15 am

Yikes.. that is so frightening. Its also why I tend to avoid fast food or restaurants in general unless I know what I’m getting is uber-fresh!

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7 Lisa November 10, 2010 at 9:18 am

Wow, that explains why it is so hard to get back on track when I’ve been eating “bad.” They have already got me sucked back in to my old habits. Thanks for sharing!

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8 Meg November 10, 2010 at 9:54 am

I read this article too! It’s scary because some people actually live like this and wonder why they have no energy, even though they may seem “healthy”. It’s really eye-opening.

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9 Ashley November 10, 2010 at 10:06 am

If you like these studies, you should check out the book ‘The End of Overeating’ by David Kessler. Talks about how the food industry entices us to overeat by layering sugar on salt on fat.

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10 Lindsey November 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

Reading her diet makes my stomach hurt! It makes me wonder, though… How many people who are on anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants would feel better WITHOUT the meds and WITH a healthier lifestyle? It’s scary how quickly we can succumb to unhealthy lifestyles! Thanks for such an interesting post!

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11 Melissa November 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

Reading this just reminds me that I need to eat well consistently. I eat healthy all day long, exercise, drink lots of water, etc. But around 7 or 8 at night, my sweet tooth kicks in & I devour cookies, brownies, ice cream, you name it, in unhealthy quantities. It always leaves me feeling awful, but it’s a bad habit I can’t seem to break. I need to work on this!

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12 Lisa @ I'm an Okie November 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

very interesting and I believe every word!

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13 Molly November 10, 2010 at 10:54 am

ah this is so crazy. i have realized since cutting back on somethings that arent as good for me, that the taste sensation when I DO have them are so much more noticable. Like Skippy peanut butter…I can almost feel the sugar underneath my teeth. I prefer natural peanut butter so much more now.

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14 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun November 10, 2010 at 11:07 am

That’s a really cool spin on it! Thanks for sharing it. And yea…I imagine I would feel like total crap eating all of that, well, total crap day in and day out. Blah!

Although then again that may be because I don’t eat that way. Interesting that she got so used to it. And scary!

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15 Shanna, like Banana November 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

With all my work travel lately, I’ve been eating very abnormally and not as healthy as I normally do. It has resulted in me feeling the same way: starving or stuffed. There is rarely a happy medium and I despeartely want to get back to normal eating.

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16 Samantha Robertson November 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Did the article say what her diet was like BEFORE she started this one? I do my best to eat fresh foods, but when it comes down to it, most of my diet is convenience foods due to time constraints (frozen fish, frozen veggies that I roast or steam, sandwiches made with packaged whole wheat bread and deli meats), packaged hummus, etc. I try to buy all natural products when I can, and buy meats without nitrates and nitrites but I know it still has to have SOME kind of effect on me.

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17 sonal chopra November 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

We have been eating out more often lately and I can totally related to the stuff you mentioned.. thanks for sharing, it’s time to hit the gym for me :)

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18 Megan (Braise The Roof) November 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Hmmm really interesting story, and definitely a little more than scary. We all know that processed foods aren’t good for us but I think this just goes to show how much they can affect how we feel and function.

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19 Melissa (MelissaLIkesToEat) November 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Ugh….that made me feel nauseous and I wasn’t even eating that food. Our bodies were not designed to handle all of that chemical crap. I do believe “everything in moderation” but a whole week of that stuff is disgusting. :)

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20 erica November 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm

very interesting! i find myself feeling a lot like how she felt….anxious, tired, workouts feel like an eternity….i need to start eating better.

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21 Julia November 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm

After reading this I crave veggies and fruits that much more! I can’t imagine going through those mood changes and finding myself unable to finish even the simplest of tasks in my day. I just hope people take these kinds of experiences into account when trying to improve their own eating habits instead of simply forgetting come lunch or dinner time.

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22 theprocessofhealing November 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

All i can say is wow.. and how SAD it is that some people’s diets actually look like that!

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23 Jaclyn November 10, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I read that Glamour artcile too – before the one you mentioned yesterday, actually – and found it very interesting as well. I totally agreed with the bit about sugar/fat/heavy foods making you lethargic and crash…but then craving them, the more you eat them, the author of the article getting used to high sugar and high fat meals and not feeling so full toward the end of the experiment… goes to show that we can get used to a particular diet.. so why not a healthier one?

I also found it interesting some of her initial side effects: migraines, etc. While she said she did gain weight, i think both articles explain that while yes, calories in versus calories out is what inevitably effects the el bees, brain and physical function is HIGHLY affected by WHAT you put into your body!

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24 CaSaundra November 12, 2010 at 9:02 am

Funny you mentioned this–I just ripped it out of my magazine on Monday and gave it to my Marketing prof, he loves all things about food/marketing!

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