Labels, Calories, Marketing and You!Posted: March 29, 2010
I learned an important lesson recently. That I have to read labels every single time even on products I “trust.” Product formulations and labels change. Protein bars I trusted in the past have substituted maltitol for sucralose and my BBQ sauce added high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The other thing is that according to independent lab testing, diet products, including products made for diabetics, have been shown to have sugar, corn starch and HFCS that are not on the label. It appears that when manufacturers run short of an ingredient, they just substitute something else, even if that something else is sugar in a sugar-free labeled product. This makes it impossible to trust anything.
This article talks about mislabeling: Every Celiac’s Nightmare.
Another issue relating to calories is that calories themselves are units of heat determined by burning a substance to ash. Does this really reflect how calories behave in the body? Are all calories the same? We “know” that they are not. Fats metabolize differently that sugars and some calories have more nutrition than others. How about the number of calories burned that your treadmill gives you? We love those readouts even while we know that every body uses differing amounts of energy when active and that the formulas used by each different machine or company are wildly different. So YMMV is even truer for your body than for your car.
And even if you come to terms with that, remember that if you are trying to lose weight by counting calories and calorie deficits, be aware that calorie counts are incorrect, like way incorrect. To compensate, I overestimate calories consumed and underestimate calories burned by activity. Click here for a report on this.
I had some allergy testing done several years ago. The nurse would give a few scratch injections and then would leave for 20 minutes. I reacted to some of the injections with the red wheals typically seen in allergy testing but what amazed me was the other reactions I had. At one point she returned and I was fast asleep. She shook me awake, noted molds as the offender and injected some new ones. This time when she returned, I was agitatedly checking my watch. As I told her I needed to leave, that this was taking too long and I couldn’t handle any more, she chuckled and said: “wheat.” The take-home, for me, is that I can not trust my moods, my energy or my health to commercial products or companies. I need to look at products I use routinely and make what I can from scratch. In addition, I examine every purchased product with an open mind and solid detective work. This means that any time I consume a new product, I need to view it as suspect and only have a tiny portion, then pay attention to changes in how I feel, my weight, cognition and mood. I end up feeling either paranoid or disordered when all I am trying to do is eat something “normal!”
What about you? Do you have a condition or allergy where you depend on correct labeling? Have you had a “food betrayal” or product labeling change that has affected you? How do you deal with this?