There are two weird things happening with food right now. First, people care more and more about what we eat and where it comes from. And second, we increasingly have no idea how or when we should be eating. Should I go Paleo? Vegan? Slow-carb? Juice cleanse? What diet is right for me?
LUNA, best known for its line of nutrition bars marketed toward women, is playing middle-woman between those two sides with a new video series, "Debunking the Diet," produced by One Lens Media. Each short video (there will be six in total) tackles a new diet or food myth and attempts to solve it with practical takeaways from LUNA's in-house dietician, Tara DelloIacono Thies.
Hosted by comedian Erin Gibson, the episodes deliver real-world advice in a light-hearted tone. The first episode, "To Eat or Not To Eat After 8pm," starts out with Gibson promising, "No no, don't worry, I'm not going to make you feel bad about yourself or make you go on a diet!" Instead, LUNA stands by the motto, "Strong beats skinny any day of the week." There is also a campaign on LUNA's Twitter account and Facebook page to start up a meaningful conversation around women's health and diet habits.
"A discussion about health and nutrition is often thought of as serious, so by lightening the tone we will hopefully engage women into conversation," Thies says. Her favorite video is an upcoming one on Fad diets: "I want to see women stop going "on" or "off" diets. You "diet" is what you eat day to day every day. On and off sets women up to fail and feel bad about themselves for what they are eating. Women need to start feeling good about what and how they eat."
This, to say the least, is a different approach to diet and food myths. Most diets are designed to make you look skinny or lose weight. The LUNA series is focused on food facts that help people become healthier and cut through popular misconceptions.
Why the Heck Is LUNA Doing This?
"Debunking the Diet" is a way for LUNA to reach out to new customers who are concerned about their eating habits and want to make a difference. It's advertising. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. LUNA decided to start the series as a way to show another side of the brand, according to The New York Times. Nutrition bar companies aren't always known for their social "pep." LUNA's video series shows a lighter side of the brand while also discussing the kinds of eating trends and concerns that are central to its product (nutrition bars).
In January 2012, LUNA partnered with the Institute for the Future to release "Power of Snacking Study: The Next Decade of Women's Changing Nutrition." Unsurprisingly, the study found that snacking (on, say, a healthy nutrition bar) was a good way to control hunger and banish unhealthy habits (goodbye, Doritos). LUNA, however, may be on to something. Eating smaller portions can lead to healthier eating habits while snacks can help us get our daily doses of fiber, protein, and more.
This might be the right moment for snacks, too. A 2012 report called "Eating Patterns in America" from the NPD Group, a market research company, found that nutrition bars are one of the three fastest growing foods in the country over the last decade in terms of consumption, The New York Times reported. LUNA bars might not always the healthiest snacking option (see image above), but it's clear that nutrition is increasingly front of mind.
Why It Matters
Aside from the brand boost (snacking is good for you!), "Debunking the Diet" isn't about slamming the LUNA brand in your face. The first episode does a good job of explaining misconceptions around eating at night, providing healthy food options (that aren't LUNA bars), and listing out simple takeaways that are easy to follow. Of course, sometimes one expert isn't enough. Recent studies with some recent studies finding connections between weight gain and time of day, though the connection is up for debate.
"Healthy eating means eating small, frequent meals to provide the nutrients we need and maintain our energy throughout the day," Thies says, "honoring our cravings in an intelligent way, and being as proud of what we put in our bodies as what we put on it."
LUNA's videos are a form of branded content that is ultimately more concerned with helping people be healthier than pushing product. It's a little dubious if "eating at night" is really a "diet" that needs debunking, and I could be eating my words if the next episode is titled "Why LUNA Bars Are Good for You," but the video series is a great start to helping people live healthier lives with a smile.
Have you checked out the video? Do you trust diet advice from your nutrition bar? Let us know in the comments or find the author on Twitter at @zsniderman.
[Update: This article was updated with quotes from Thies and recent studies on weight gain.]