Do calories matter? How much should I be eating? Are there too many carbs in that? Can I really eat fat? How do I make sense of a nutrition label?
These are common questions I get from my clients, and also with friends, family and sometimes complete strangers. There is so much miss-information out there about nutrition and weight loss. There are a lot of people out there who are really trying to make better choices for themselves and their health and yet are often confused by the information presented through government guidelines or marketing campaigns.
Nutrition numbers and labels are probably the biggest source of confusion. Today I read two articles that made me frustrated. One was about a potential lawsuit against Taco Bell because they are potentially not using enough ingredients to use the word “beef” in their advertising. Apparently all they need is 35%. What’s in the other 65% – fillers. What does that mean? Chemicals. Chemicals that are body doesn’t know how to utilize, that put stress on our liver and disrupt our hormonal systems and biochemistry.
The other article, from the New York Times, was about the latest changes to nutrition labels. The food industry is going to start using “nutrition keys” (like the one featured above) on the front of the box, in order to allow consumers to quickly recognize “healthier choices”. Sounds great right?
Here’s the problem. Our body is not just a bank account. It is a chemistry lab. That means knowing the numbers isn’t enough. When it comes to health and weight loss, quality is more important than quantity.
Therefore, this “front of the box” strategy is missing something very important – the ingredients. By putting them on the front of the box, we’re taking attention away from the back or sides, the area that lists the ingredients, which are actually just as important, if not more, than the nutrition panel.
For example, a 100-calorie cookie filled with trans fats, white sugar and preservatives is not the same as a 100-calorie organic yogurt. The same goes for a 130-calorie slice of bread, where one has 20+ ingredients and the other has perhaps just 8 natural ingredients. Your body does not break down, absorb or utilize these foods in the same way.
Over time it matters. If you feed your body with chemicals and nutrient-deficient food it will affect your biochemistry, your metabolism, and ultimately your health.
I don’t know about you, but most people I talk to want to live a long time, want to be healthy and disease-free. So if you’re going to go to the trouble of reading the nutrition panel, don’t forget to turn the box over and look at the ingredients too. Do your body a favor – choose natural food over fat-free, low-cal, carb-free, sugar-free. Don’t let the numbers fool you!
To your health and happiness,