Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scary Nutritional Facts that Suck

When it comes to healthy eating, everyone knows the basics by now: lots of fruits and veggies, limited saturated fats, trans fats are the devil and will kill you where you stand. Also, it appears that everyone in the world finally understands that taco "salad" is not, in fact, good for you.

Despite vacation splurges and the occasional premenstrual ice cream binge, I always thought I did fairly well in the food department. Then I subscribed to SELF magazine a couple years ago and learned some health facts that, quite frankly, I think are bullshit. This doesn't mean I don't believe they are true- SELF magazine is one of my Bibles and everything in it is Holy Word as far as I'm concerned. I mean it's sneaky and underhanded that this shit actually happens. I think companies that practice these sneaky habits should be forced to print "WE ARE ASSHOLES" in bright pink letters on their products for duping us well-intentioned healthy eaters that think we are doing something good.

These are a few facts that pissed me off and almost made me give up and resort to living off fast food and donuts for good (almost):

1) The extreme amounts of sodium found in canned soup. Soup, especially broth-based vegetable soups, are a dieter's staple. We've all seen those commercials with the middle aged women jumping up and down and freaking out, shouting, "It's the turkey noodle diet!" and what not. And it's true, some soups are very low cal, low fat and have fiber-containing veggies and beans. They're an easy, quick, affordable lunch. They also have approximately 2/3 of the amount of sodium you're supposed to get in a day- PER SERVING. Most of those cute little cans have two servings, and really, who eats half a can of soup? Not this girl.

The simple solution would be to buy those low sodium soups, but have you tried those? I usually end up adding salt just to get any flavor, which totally defeats the purpose. My solution is to limit my soup intake to once a week and drink approximately a gallon of water afterwards to avoid bloating. Thanks a lot, soup companies!

2) Hidden SUGAR in stuff that doesn't taste sugary, like salad dressing, ketchup, and spaghetti sauce.

I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. At every wedding, I hit the cake line before the booze line... every time. All you have to do is talk about chocolate, cookies, cupcakes, or anything related and I will drool. However, I also come from a family prone to obesity, so I really have to watch it when it comes to sugary treats. So every cupcake is planned, every teaspoon of cream in my coffee is monitored.

Imagine my outrage to learn of these hidden sugars. When I allow myself sugary goodness, I want to thoroughly enjoy it. When I eat condiments, I want them to taste like condiments! Not only do these assholes hide sugar in things that don't taste like sugar, they give them fancy scientific labels like "fructose" and "galactose" and what not. Chemistry was the only class in high school I failed- my brain doesn't work that way. Well done, salad dressing companies. You suck.

I just did a Google search to make sure I know what I'm talking about and found CBS posted an article on this subject today: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/19/earlyshow/health/main1223039.shtml

3) Restaurants make seemingly healthy food unhealthy by drowning it in butter and oil. For years, I stayed up on my high horse, ordering grilled fish and steamed vegetables, smugly thinking I was being healthy and awesome. Turns out, I wasn't. Apparently, most restaurants douse the steamed veggies in butter and oil to make them taste good... so THAT'S why my broccoli at Outback always tasted so much better than the broccoli I made at home. The obvious solution is to ask for the veggies with no oil. I remember to do this about half the time. The rest of the time, I say screw it, enjoy my meal, and watch my portions.

It seems like being healthy is so complicated. Sometimes I envy those I know that eat whatever they want, whenever they want, and truly don't care. Then I remember the way I used to feel when I did that (tired, lethargic, bloated, gross) as opposed to the way I feel after a nice long workout and an apple with almond butter (like a sweaty rock star who can take over the world). It might be complicated... but it's worth it. But I still think companies that trick us are assholes.

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