Here’s a perplexing mathematical puzzle – If 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese, how can it be that 9 out of 10 Americans (think they) are eating healthfully?
That’s what Consumer Reports wants to know, and a recent article explains why so many of us get it wrong:
We found that Americans are making an effort to practice good nutrition and weight control, with 90 percent describing their diet as “somewhat,” “very,” or “extremely” healthy. But they have a tendency to give themselves more credit than they perhaps deserve. They drink more sweetened beverages than they should, for example, and sometimes undercut their own efforts at weight control by not limiting their intake of sweets and fats.
Also, they like Cheerios a lot, but parsnips, not so much. Read the entire article…
What you need to know:
From our review of tens of thousands of nutrition labels, we’ve come to some conclusions as well:
#1 Many of us are simply clueless as to the nutritional value of what we eat. This is because packaged food products are designed to embellish the positive attributes of a product while obfuscating the negatives. Extreme examples: Soda pop is low-fat!!! Full fat beef is low-carb…
#2 Serving sizes are out of whack. Since nutrition fact labels show calorie information per serving, we are duped into thinking our calorie consumption is lower than it actually is. Examples: a serving of soda pop is one cup (8 fl oz) and has 90 calories. However, vending machines usually dispense 20 fl oz. bottles which we guzzle down to the tune of 225 calories! Other examples include a serving size of 2 cookies or 11 chips.
#3 It’s not enough to look at the calories and nutrients. Ingredient lists tell the story of the product. How much sugar has been added vs naturally present? Is the fiber real or fake? Just what did they add to the food when they took out the fat? Most people are not aware of all the additives in processed food. When we start eating fake, ultra-processed foods, our bodies react in unexpected ways, some which scientists are still trying to figure out. Example: some studies show that consumption of diet soft drinks actually increase the craving for sweet and thus overall caloric intake.
What to do at the supermarket:
Trust no brand and no product in the supermarket. The only way to know what you are actually going to be eating is to read the nutrition label and the ingredient list. Start with the serving size. Does it make sense? If it’s too small, then you’re actually consuming much more calories than you intended.
If you’d like to test your nutrition IQ, take this 5 question quiz from Consumer Reports.