Tuesday, July 6, 2010

100 Calorie Snacks

These tiny packages hold the big promise of a satisfying treat with little calories. Nothing could be further from the truth. These 100 calorie snacks are a good example of how the marketing and packaging of food can sabotage our quest for weight loss and overall wellbeing. As you can well imagine I have many issues with these snack items.

The first should be obvious – over-processed food that has the nutritional value (taste and texture) of cardboard! In fact I am sure the big food companies could take cardboard, add some artificial flavours, package it and sell it to the hard core dieters. They could label it as fat free and high in fibre and it would sell like hotcakes. Eating one of these packages does nothing to curb hunger or satisfy; often it leaves the person wanting more food, food that can actually nourish the body.

Secondly – not all calories are created equal! This is a subject that will require a few blog posts but I wanted to touch on it since the subject line clearly reads 100 calorie snacks. Most dieticians will say that weight gain is related to taking in more calories than you expend. Most of the major diet systems are built around this premise of portion control. So too are food pyramids, and government food guides. Cutting calories may initially trigger weight loss; however it is only one part of a bigger story. A larger part of that story is how our body regulates the storage and release of energy (fat); this is done through hormones. A hormones ability to do its job well is determined not by the calorie content of a food, but by how efficiently our bodies can use what we eat. Therefore the quality of food you eat, determines how well you can maintain a healthy weight while being nourished. A 100 calorie snack holds no value here! The idea that the calorie alone determines weight loss and wellness is an idea that is being challenged.

Artificial flavours, preservatives..................too much to say here so stay tuned for another blog.

Another issue for me is PACKAGING. 6- 8 individual packages in an oversized cardboard box! That’s why it sells for an outrageous price. The consumer will pay for over processed; over packaged “food” because the value is falsified by how pretty the package is. Yes, I know you can recycle the box but both the recycling and manufacturing of it requires energy. A “food” product not worthy of all that energy usage!

So the next question I often get is “what are alternatives to the 100 calorie packages?”. I am hesitant to give choices as I really think we need to start thinking more about the quality of food and less about the quantity (calorie count).  When we enjoy fully nourishing meals, the need for snacking is often unneccesary. 

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