Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm Peeved...

Do you have any pet peeves? I sure do! I probably have WAY too many that I shouldn't have. A lot of them might border on OCD behaviors, like only using blue ballpoint pen or at least using all the same color ink. My boss was recently helping me with a group and she used black pen on my weight charts, It took every ounce of my being to not say something, but seriously, how are you going to tell your boss to use a different pen? I do realize it's silly.

A lot of my pet peeves come from food labeling. The different words that companies use are so ambiguous that most people don't know what to make of them, words are just randomly thrown around, people are deceived and think they're eating well when they're not. Here's a few that might be confusing you...

Light means the food has half the fat, 1/3 the calories OR half the salt of it's
regular version, that means that a food can still be really unhealthy for you depending on what the original food's nutritional content is.

"Made with Whole Grain"
You can do your own research on this one to find out the full details but to sum it up, "made with whole grain" really means that there is very little whole grain in the product. Let's face it, any wheat flour even enriched bleached white flour has to come from a whole grain. I would go as far as to say that ALL wheat flour is at some point, "made from whole grain." What we actually want to look for on our labels is 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat. The Whole Grains Council has a nifty little stamp that it allows to be put on products that meet it's standards. You can take a look at it and read a bit more about whole grains at their website which I linked to above.

"Natural" vs. "Organic"
Seeing the words "All Natural" on a label makes us think that what we're eating is good for us but it's important to know that there are really no regulations when it comes to using those words. "Organic" however comes with strict regulations and organic foods are produced without antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, irradiation or bioengineering. Organic farmers must follow certain soil and water conservation methods and rules about the humane treatment of animals. It is also important to keep in mind that "organic" does NOT mean it's healthy for you. Cupcakes and french fries can be "organic" and I don't think anyone would ever call them healthy foods. (though I sure wish we could.) If you'd like to learn more about organic labeling or would like to see the USDA's label that they put on organic products, you can click here to go to the website.

"0 Calories"
When a label says "0 Calories" the thing we must remember is that this is PER SERVING. Splenda, the popular sugar substitute actually has 3 calories per packet but because it is less than 5, the government allows the company to say 0. This goes for "Pam" the popular spray oil as well. Pam is 0 calories for a 1/3 second spray but if you spray for a full second, you're getting 7 calories. Yes, these items are going to give you far less calories then the foods they're being used to replace but it's still good to know that they're not truly 0. I just don't like the idea of being deceived by the manufacturer which is why this is a big peeve of mine. Personally, I feel the government should make manufacturers say what the calories truly are even if they are less than 5.

I'm going to end here for today, I have one more labeling "trick" that I believe is the worst and the one that can do us the most harm. It is my biggest pet peeve of all! I also believe it's the one that people don't understand and know the least about. I was recently talking to the Fitness Director at the Y who is extremely fit and healthy (We call him "Hot Bill" and by '"we" I mean I do.) and even he was misinformed about this popular ingredient and no, it's not high fructose corn syrup although I could go off on that crap too! I'll devote an entire blog post to this evil, evil thing tomorrow.

Until then... stay healthy, read labels and educate yourselves about the things that the food manufacturers don't want us to know. Don't bury your head in the proverbial "food labeling sand" like so many people do, and pretend it doesn't matter, you're too smart to be taken advantage of! Enjoy your Friday, we're snowed in AGAIN.... ahhhhhh!


BlueRidge Boomer said...

I have been reading food labels for years and they drive me nuts,too!!

I constantly preach about knowing what you put in your body....not many listen!!

Stay warm and enjoy.....LindaMay

Running Jen said...

I hear ya! I am a label reader, and I am always a bit surprised by my friends who tell me that they just buy whatever is cheapest when they shop, not reading labels at all. I never buy food without checking the ingredients first, we try to go for all natural, and minimal ingredients.

My first thought when you talked of your biggest pet peeve was Trans fat, but then you said that it's something the fitness director wasn't aware of, so now I'm wondering if it's something else you're speaking of? Because, I guess I'd think a Fitness director would be aware of this. But, I cannot stand the products that yell "0 trans fat" on the label, then when you read the ingredients, they do in fact have trans fats, they just don't have enough per serving to disallow the "0 trans fat" claim. That's why I just stay totally away from hydrogenated oils and such.

Buying all natural (by reading the label) and looking for the right ingredients is what I was just talking with my sister about right before I read this post - she was asking me about food labels. For instance, I have certain "rules" I follow, like a minimum of 5 grams of fiber per serving in a cereal, or a minimum of 3 grams fiber per slice of bread. I could go on, as I have many of these "rules", but I'm getting quite boring! But, for me, it's all about minimal ingredients, all natural ingredients, and not buying into the "light" claim on things - I'd rather watch my portion size of the "real" stuff than have an unnatural version just because it might be a few less calories

Darlene said...

I need to get a LOT better at reading labels!! Great post!

Michele said...

I agree! Great post. I am a pretty well-educated label reader but discovered today that I've been making a big mistake -- for YEARS regarding 94% fat free microwave popcorn. Thanks for the Pam information, too. Very helpful. Can't wait to see your post tomorrow......

gnome517 said...

i'm with jen on the trans fat!!! ug!!! I hate that they can still say 0 trans fat / serving even if it has .5 just ain't right!