Friday, February 3, 2012

surprising nutrition facts

This semester I'm taking an intro to nutrition and health class, which so far I LOVE. I'll most likely be sharing lots of tips and information from that class throughout the semester, and hopefully beyond. Sorry in advance for the amount of text that is in this post- I promise that next time I'll have more pictures and less words.

Although I've learned many new things, one thing really aggravated me about food labels. I'm not a calorie counter, but I am conscious of checking nutrition facts before consuming a packaged food. I'll use the exercise we did in class to share what I learned:

take for instance a "100- calorie" vitatop. (I actually have no idea what this is- apparently it's a breakfast food that is the top of a muffin fortified with tons of vitamins.. it's supposed to be healthy, but so processed?)

The package reads that there is 100 calories in it, but when you do the math and calculate out the calories based off the protein, fat, and carbohydrates you come out with 126 calories. *to do the math you calculate the grams of these nutrients times how many grams per calorie there is (9 cal/gram of fat, 4 cal/gram for protein and carbs), then add them all up.

So, this vitatop that is advertised as 100 calories is truly 126 calories- which is a lot more than they perceive their product to have. You may be thinking that 26 extra calories is not much- but every processed food you eat is most likely lying to you about the calories. Food Labels are allowed to do this because:

-Food labels are allowed to round, but must have 20% accuracy within the true amount of calories. Therefore a 100 calorie product can say they have anywhere from 80-120 calories. Similarly, a 500 calorie product can say that they have anywhere from 400-600 calories. It adds up..
-If there are more than 5g of fiber within the product, food companies are allowed to deduct calories from the total amount (hence why the vitatop goes outside the 20% range). This could be good and bad, depending on your calorie needs.

Knowing this, I'm not going to go out and count calories, or calculate every amount. I feel more aware and, honestly, frustrated that food companies are allowed to show their food labels incorrectly. For people who are watching their weight, and count the amount of calories they eat- they are being lied to. I'm not sure if the government or USDA has tried to change these rules, but I'd sure like to see someone try.

Besides my frustration of food labels, my friend from home sent me my birthday present:

A new matching scarf and beanie set! Purple and white- although the colors in the picture are a bit funky. I'm in love :), and have already worn it out today to drop off my food compost. I'm off to do some homework.. :)

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