Calorie Labels That Are Lying To You!
In ancient times, the world was free of all the gadgets and gizmos. Men and women blended and grinded food manually and walked for miles to procure them. Words like diet and calories were unheard of. They ate to live and led a healthy life too and there was very little of that excess of fat or carbs that got deposited as an adipose tissue. Then came an era, when all grinding, churning, mixing and baking was done by machines. Elevators and cars made life easy and there was little scope for exercise. Still, cooking was done at home and many things remained natural. As the ready to eat things and fast food started becoming popular, so did the percentage of obese and diabetic people started rising. Calorie labels or nutrition labels became mandatory. Laws were passed, amends were made, yet there remained loopholes, which were used to their own advantage, by manufacturers and restaurants.
Calorie labels are the externally visible information of the food wrapped inside. Recent inspections have found these labels to be marketing gimmicks and unearthed the lies hidden deep underneath them. Here are some of those;
Calories are usually listed as guidance, for people who are concerned about the calories they consume and serious weight watchers. The food laws allow a difference of 20% of the stated calories. This is exploited by food manufacturers, who mention lower calorie content on the cover. Calories are rounded off and the calorie calculation is done for a serving size, which is very much less than what an individual consumes.
The calories that come from the bad fats are bad for the body, as the excess of these, get stored in blood vessels and are bad for the heart. It is a well known fact that trans fats are bad. So, manufacturers tend to use terms like saturated fat to fool people and also mention trans fat as zero.
The zero calorie oil or spray – this is the worst joke of all. There is nothing called a zero calorie food or oil. The government requires the manufacturers to state the nutritional composition for a serving portion. There are no strict guidelines regarding the size of a serving portion. So, serving portion of oil is mentioned as low as one third of a second spray. This is impractical. Teaspoons or table spoons of oil sounds logical. This one third second spray usually contains around 0.4 or 0.5 calories and this rounded off to zero and the label screams zero calories. If we calculate the amount of fat for 2 teaspoons, this runs to 40 calories with a fat content of 4 grams. Shocking right!
*Calories from unmentioned source, is another issue of concern. Some labels mention things like calories from fats, so what about the rest, which may actually contribute more calories. Most of the calories from cookies and desserts come from corn syrup, which worse than the sugar itself.
*Fruit juices contain added sugars, which don’t appear prominently on the label. The calories from these added flavors, sugars and other additives are pretty high. The percentage of real fruits in a fruit drink is not clearly known.
*The whole wheat and whole grain tag is another marketing gimmick targeted towards the health conscious ones. The percentage of flour or the food, which is made up of whole grains is not mentioned at all. Just adding few whole grains or a small percentage of whole wheat flour, does not qualify to be called as a whole grain or a whole wheat food. We get fooled by this and end up consuming the refined food after all, which is not recommended for diabetics. Similarly, the real fruit tag is also controversial.
*Added fiber – fiber is a complex sugar and has a relatively low calorie count and is low on the glycemic index as well. Hence, good for diabetics. But, most of those who make claims of added fiber or high fiber are under scanner. These foods did not actually, contain any of the natural fiber, occurring in grains and seem to contain an added isolated fiber called maltodextrin, which is actually a sugar and does not carry the benefits of the natural fiber.
*Sophisticated terms like enriched bleached flour actually denote the ordinary refined flour, which is high calorie and is also high on the glycemic index.
Lying about the sugar content is another harsh truth. It is shocking to find frequently used beverages containing more than the permissible levels of high sugar fructose. Pepsi, coke and sprite were found to contain as high as 65% and gastorade and Arizona iced tea, were found to contain nearly 60%.
* High sodium content in foods, usually escape our scrutiny, when they mention the content to be well within the daily value or the percentage consumed by the average person. They mention the daily recommendation as something twice that of actually recommended.
The laws require mention of 13 core nutrients and because of them, the harmful ones don’t come under the scanner.
Calories are mere number and a recent study has found that they don’t deter many from consuming high calorie food. A new column mentioning the amount of activity like running on the treadmill for an hour might have a better effect. People should look beyond the calories mentioned in the labels and should look out for carcinogenic additives, super refined sugars and artificial chemicals. The best way to overcome this problem is to put forth tough laws devoid of loopholes and there has also been suggestion from nutritionists to shift the nutrition label to the front of the packet. To stop worrying about the cunning nutrition labels, try cooking from the scratch, once in a way.