Recently, USA Today reported that the nutrition labels on the backs of 700,000 packaged foods are getting a proposed makeover that will make calorie counts more noticeable, serving sizes more realistic, and added sugars more obvious. While any progress toward bringing more awareness to reading labels (especially to sugar content and serving sizes) is positive, there are some fundamental concerns here.
For decades now, we have been a calorie-obsessed society. From just one calorie to no-calorie products, mainstream America is trying to condition us into believing that we only need to pay attention to the calories we eat. It’s a “program” that functions like a magician’s sleight-of-hand trick: if we keep our eyes on the calories, then perhaps we won’t see how they’re continuing to put all kinds of other ingredients in our food–which only serves to keep us wanting more.
If we can’t wake up and see that that this “program” is riddled with dangerous messages, we are all continuing to head down the same path that we’ve been following over the last 30 years. The message is that we will all be more beautiful and healthy if we keep our caloric intake within a range based on our weight and gender. But is this message true? Why is calorie counting so important?
The idea that simply restricting calories and paying attention to portion control is the key to changing our obesity and health demise epidemic is still such old-school rhetoric. The truth is, all calories are NOT the same! It’s the empty calories and the chemicals that are put into foods that are typically calorie dense, but nutritionally poor. For example, MSG–which is disguised in most all processed and fast foods under a variety of names — is a chemical that enhances food flavor, but also causes weight gain. Scientists actually get their “fat rats” to study by giving them MSG!
Hormones, nitrates and other food additives are so ubiquitous in our foods that most of us no longer pay attention to the list of ingredients that are in our favorite foods. Sometimes these ingredients, most of which we can’t even pronounce, actually comprise half the side of the package they come in. We have become so accustomed to this laundry list, we don’t even bother to look at it anymore.
The mainstream, however, continues to be more fixated on calorie content as the cause of our obesity and resulting health crisis rather than the real tricks in our food that cause the illusion that they are actually healthy foods.
Once we give our bodies the nutrients they need without the side dish of chemicals, we will not have the cravings to continue eating more empty calories, which ultimate leads to weight gain and poorer health. It’s time we all become fully aware of what is in our products, which is really the root cause of our obesity and poor health crisis. If we continue to count calories instead of chemicals, continue to watch the monkey on the magician’s shoulder instead of understanding what’s really going on, we will continue to be misguided, perpetuating this vicious, sick cycle.
I am hopeful that the more we become empowered and share this information, we can take charge of our health, no matter what the label says. Why? Because we will know better than to buy processed junk food that is full of chemicals and genetically modified ingredients. We will know the health problems those foods cause. As for the calories…well, that is farther down on the list of importance for discussion.
So, choose wisely and may your health become vibrant as you walk in your own empowerment!