It has been a long, long time since my last blog post, and before I get into it, I wanted to thank those of you who are still reading my old posts, whether you're just checking up on me periodically or find me another way, I appreciate when you spend a little bit of your time with me.
Why haven't I posted in so long? It's a long story - multiple ones, actually, and I may get into them at some point, but for now, I'm just going to jump right in as if I never left and the very first thing I thought I'd start with is this story I heard on the news this morning:
The above links (which will, as always, open in a new window) take you to 2 articles talking about what the Royal Society for Public Health is proposing as a new way to label food because of the growing epidemic of obesity in the UK.
Speaking as someone who has struggled with weight my whole life, I think this is a fantastic idea. Whenever I am on a "diet", I often use as motivation just this idea, and I can tell you from experience that it works way more often than not. Other times you just want that bag of chips, and you're going to eat it no matter what the label says.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, is proposing a simple infographic on foods to give consumers a better understanding of what they're consuming. Let's face it, nutritional labels on foods are chock full of information that most of us just don't understand, nor can we put it in perspective. I don't know what the numbers are in regards to how many people actually read labels on food before they buy, but I actually do. I want to know what's in that package. More often than not, it makes me put it back on the shelf and head over to the produce aisle, but I feel that I may be in the minority.
I think this style of labeling may change that. Picture this for a moment: You're shopping at the grocery store and pick up a Reese chocolate bar. (I picked that because I found the nutritional label online and that makes my life easier.) When you look at the label it tells you this:
It makes sense to me because I read labels all the time, and so I would put it back on the shelf and keep moving. Someone who hasn't counted calories like a crazy person previously could look at this and think, "hey, 210 is not so bad - I can definitely eat this. Peanuts are healthy, right?"
Say that same person picks up that same chocolate bar and sees this alongside the nutritional info (which, I am only assuming, they will keep on the packaging):
Now that 210 doesn't sound so great - not if I have to run for 19 minutes to burn it off.
There are millions of people struggling with their weight for a number of reasons. They include lifestyle, income, genetics, and illness, or any combination of factors. One of the major contributors, in my humble opinion, is our society's love of the convenient packaged food. I understand it, I really do. Life is hectic and it is really difficult to cook and clean up after an actual meal. It's also really expensive to eat real food, which is really sad, but a post for another day.
Since we're all eating out of boxes, cans, and packages, why not add a little more information in a really easy to understand format? It may help someone who is struggling to make a better choice. To pick up a box of frozen veggies which will take 9 minutes of running to work off rather than a box of Twinkies which will take you 47? I'm only guessing at the actual times, but you get my point.
Let me get personal for a minute. I am currently on a diet, since I have a big event coming up in September and I want to look better and fit into my dress. My food intake is restrictive, but I have kids, and I am still feeding them the same as always, which includes full dinners and dessert. Whenever I really, really want to eat something that I'm not supposed to, I go upstairs and step on the scale. One of two things is going to happen; either I'm happy with what I see and I don't want to jeopardize my efforts, or I don't like what I see and I am motivated to work harder. Either way, I really don't want that food anymore.
Another way I circumvent my need for foods I can't (and really shouldn't) have is to look up their caloric value. As I mentioned earlier, I have been an avid calorie counter in the past (it helped me shed 60 pounds), so seeing those numbers helps me gain back my self control. Putting simple pictures on a package letting you know how much energy you need to expend to work off that particular food should have the same impact.
Of course, there are always multiple opinions about everything, and this is no different. Although I do not remember who it was, and when I tried googling the topic I couldn't find it, I did hear during the newscast that there are some who do not find this idea appealing, as all calories are not created the same. Although I agree that the calories from an apple and the ones from a Reese cup may be equal numerically but never nutritionally, I still think I like this new idea and would definitely like our Canadian health experts to look into it. Why would you be wary of a picture of a stick figure on a bike, but okay with a number?
What do you think? Would a system of labels such as these make you think twice before eating certain foods, knowing the amount of time you'll have to spend on the treadmill to burn it off?
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