Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nutrition Labels & No Fat/Sugar Free

I must admit that I spend a good part of my time at the super market reading nutrition labels, especially on products I'm not familiar with. It's important to know what you're getting into. For one thing, it's interesting to compare the information on No Fat and/or Sugar Free items with their full fat/full sugar counterparts. Usually, you're better off eating the real deal. Why? Because if you compare them, often the No Fat items have actually loaded up on the sugar to compensate for the flavor change. And often the Sugar Free items have increased the salt as well as the fat grams for the same reason. In addition, it's a bit like what happens to me in those moments I decide I should exercise. For me, exercising makes me hungry and gives me the excuse to be nutritionally bad because I figure, "Well, I'll just work it off." The truth is, I usually don't. I can't ever seem to walk enough or lift enough weights to really and truly get rid of that third slice of pizza. And even if I could, I would just be breaking even. I know me. I'm not able to do MORE than I need to do, when it comes to exercise, in order to get rid of the pizza AND lose a pound. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that you shouldn't work out, if you can do it and you want to do it, fabulous. I think it's healthy to get up off the couch and get going: walk, play tennis, lift weights, swim. It's just not something I've personally learned to do well.

But as I said, like exercise gives me an excuse to eat more or at least poorly, eating fat free foods can give some people the feeling they can get away with eating twice as much. So, do yourself a favor and read the labels. Know what the company says about those cheese crackers, as in how many (grams or ounces) make up a serving. Not your serving, their serving. Even if you think what they call a serving wouldn't feed a gnat, you need to know that so you can make the important choice: whether to 'spend' that amount of calories on that amount of food.

Knowledge is power, my friends. That little pint of ice cream really is supposed to serve 4.

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