Quick go grab a label off of a food product. I’ll wait. No put the water back and grab something with ingredients (though I am very proud of you for drinking water). Okay got one? Do you understand half of those words? Me neither. Actually I look at labels like a foreign language, I just know they are trying to tell me something but I just can’t figure out what. I remember in elementary school my teacher was explaining calories and ingredients in products. I don’t know why, all I know is I brought in a water bottle and it wasn’t helpful. I still only remember my teacher laughing about how water has nothing and moving on to the next product, but I don’t actually remember anything else about why we were doing that lesson. I am sure if I had paid more attention just maybe I would be better to this day about understanding those darn pesky labels.
Recently I had to learn to read labels when I started reducing my sugar intake thanks to the lovely insulin resistance that comes in a package deal with my PCOS. I mostly look for hidden sugars because sugar just doesn’t agree with my insulin resistances, go figure. At first it was a frustrating process but then I realized there were all these lovely websites that broke it down for you, including sugar substitutes. It was AMAZING!
Well it was amazing up until I started more avidly reading labels. Now I am afraid I can’t eat anything but meat, vegetables and limited fruit. Nothing else. Nada. It would appear mostly everything has sugar in it these days. I am not kidding. Milk, ketchup, BBQ sauce, yogurt (plain), mayonnaise (just a tiny bit though) and many more. I walked around the store discouraged and pissed off. Anything that was zero carbs ended up having fake sweetener in it and I don’t know about you but fake sweetener’s make my stomach hurt. So here I was trying to reduce my sugar and instead I am left wondering what’s left to eat? Oh and don’t get me started on low to non fat, the lower the fat the higher the sugar. My co-worker said she thinks it has to do with taste but I would rather have the fat and not the sugar thankyouverymuch.
The husband knows the about to have a melt down look and started cheerfully announcing fun things I could eat like a new kind of fish or lets try stuffed mushrooms (which are much better than stuffed bell peppers in my opinion). It just got me thinking, no wonder it is so hard to eat healthy. Here we are surrounded by unhealthy choices pushed on us every single day. I watch TV and suddenly see about a million ads for fast food or restaurants with special deals going on flash across the screen. I almost feel like a crazy pregnant lady with cravings when I start watching TV because suddenly I want whatever they are selling.
Then there are the sneaky supposedly healthy foods. Friday is my cheat day. Usually I go out with the ladies from my work and we treat ourselves to a fun lunch (someplace new each time, nice part about working in downtown). Even though it is my cheat day I really try not to go overboard because lets face it, if you are eating a weeks worth of calories in one day, how are you helping yourself? I pack my own healthy snacks and then just cheat on lunch. Well today, we were out of healthy snacks, seriously, we need to go shopping. So I decided to stop at Starbucks to grab myself a Chia latte and maybe a yogurt parfait. I ended up leaving with a banana, chia tea frappuccino (with a shot of espresso), a yogurt parfait and one of those cheese box things they sell that comes with apples, almonds, cranberries, 3 different kinds of cheeses and cute little crackers. I thought I did pretty good. No blueberry muffin or donuts for me.
I didn’t read the labels because I figured how unhealthy could it really be? Stupid, stupid, stupid. When I logged on to my calorie counter and logged it all in, I almost fell out of my office chair. Really? I had to be imagining it. So I messed with it, checked that it was all right and re-calculated, yep it was correct. So that little meal mentioned above is 1430 calories and 214 carbohydrates. Some of that might be from fruit (in the banana’s case all of it), but seriously that many calories still is just plain old whacky. The drink was by far the worst culprit. It alone had 500 and something calories, plus 99 carbohydrates (OMGOSH!!!!!!). *sigh* I thought about throwing it all away but the fact that I paid for all of it made me feel so guilty I just ended up eating it with a guilty conscious. After a lunch of soup and half of a sandwich, plus dinner, I had gone over my calorie intake for the day and my carb intake, so depressing.
It is just so depressing sometimes to realize there is so little for me to eat these days. I love vegetables, I love fruit, I love meat but sometimes I want a nice pesto pasta without running into a whole bunch of carbohydrates or sugar. I spend a lot of time looking up alternatives (like zucchini lasagna, yum) and I do like the alternatives. What I am really saddened by is how un-educated most people are about these products. We make fake food cheaper and real food more expensive. We make TV dinners convenient for the career people (ew by the way just ew). Fast food is advertised on every corner of every street and on every TV station. They say they have healthier options but they really don’t, it is still processed crap. And most people like me can’t read or understand the labels. Ever since I started counting calories, keeping track of my carbs and generally reading labels, it has come to my attention how crazy out of control this system has gotten. Do we even know what is in our food? Probably not. Maybe ignorance IS bliss! In my case it is not and I just have to work a little harder to make eating fun.
Do you read labels?