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Tag: sugar

After doing a presentation for the Santa Barbara Girl Scouts, a troop leader came up to me with the empty box from a Lunchables package. She said she thought that given my presentation, I should see what was actually in this product. Notice how I used the word “product” instead of “food.” These are not interchangeable.  My goal with this post is not to make any parent feel bad about feeding their child Lunchables, but rather to open your eyes to what is actually in this item.

I started my research with on the Kraft Lunchables website. When I clicked on the picture of the Bologna + American Cracker Stacker with Juice, this is what it says:

Give them the good stuff. Made with Oscar Mayer bologna made with chicken and pork, Kraft American and Ritz Crackers. Includes Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Excellent Source of Protein, Calcium
  • Crackers made with 5g Whole Grain per serving

Wow, protein, calcium and whole grains? This must be the “good stuff!” Or maybe not…
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Updated 9/20/11 – The full ingredient list of Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls ice cream is now shown at the bottom of this post.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream announced yesterday that “Schweddy Balls” ice cream is on its way to stores around the country. Schweddy Balls is a reference to the popular Saturday Night Live skit featuring Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon and guest host, Alec Baldwin. It is a parody on National Public Radio in which the actors continually refer to Pete Schweddy’s (Baldwin) dessert balls. The fun ensues when Shannon asks if she can touch Baldwin’s “balls” and then comments that she likes the way they smell.
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Image: Vinni/Flickr

A newly release national survey reveals that Americans drink a boatload of sugary drinks. I know, shocking news. None the less, here are some of the key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey:

SEX: Males consume more sugar drinks than females.

AGE:  Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.

RACE:  Black children and adolescents consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than their Mexican-American counterparts. Black and Mexican-American adults consume more than white adults.

INCOME: Low-income persons consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than those with higher income.

LOCATION: Most of the sugar drinks were consumed away from home are obtained from stores and not restaurants or schools.

The other major finding is that approximately half of the US population consumes sugar drinks on any given day. At first, I was actually surprised as I thought that number seemed low. Then I read the definition of  what was and was not considered a “sugar drink:”

“…sugar drinks include fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters…Sugar drinks do not include diet drinks, 100% fruit juice, sweetened teas, and flavored milks.”

It seems crazy to me that they did not include sweetened tea or flavored milk since both have ADDED sugars. And what about diet drinks? I’ve noticed they are always excluded from studies on regular soda consumption. I want to see data on all forms of soda with any ADDED sweetener. While I’m not a proponent of drinking fruit juice, at least there is no added sugar. If you include diet drinks, flavored milk (can’t you hear Jamie Oliver’s voice now?), etc. how high does that 50% number climb? Are 75% of the US population drinking sweetened beverages daily? Maybe even 90%?
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We at Be Food Smart, are constantly telling and teaching people to read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists. It is, by all accounts, the only way to know what’s in packaged food.  Many argue, however, that the current labeling system is confusing and doesn’t allow Americans to quickly tell if the food they are about to buy or consume is good for them.  Ingredient lists are a pain too. Have you ever noticed the the smallest possible font size is used in combination with leaving Caps Locks on? This is not by accident. They’d rather you not read the 45 ingredients on that box of crackers. The good news is that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of updating the required nutritional facts. It will be interesting to see how consumer friendly the new labels turns out. Yes, I am a bit cynical when it comes to the FDA siding with the consumer and not the food industry.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Rethink the Food Label project which is put on by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s News21 program and Good Magazine. Here is how they describe the project:

We asked the public, food thinkers, nutritionists, and designers to redesign the Nutrition Facts Label to make it easier to read and more useful to people who want to consume healthier, more nutritious and wholesome food. Designs could incorporate the nutrition label’s existing break down of fats, sugars, vitamins, calorie counts and percent daily values. Or, they could re-imagine the label to include geography, food quality, food justice, carbon footprint, or lesser-known chemosensory characteristics. Above all, we asked for designs that were informative, instructive and memorable.
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The check arrived after a decent Chinese dinner of Egg Foo Young and Stir Fry Vegetables. As is customary these days, the paper check was buried under a pile of individually wrapped fortune cookies.  My 3-year old’s eyes greatly enlarged as she realized the noisy packages were filled with dessert. I let her select her cookie and explained why there was an itty bitty piece of paper inside. This was my fortune:

You will take a chance in something in the near future.
Daily Numbers 0, 3, 9.  Lotto Six #’s 22, 43, 11, 13, 4, 27

As I crumbled up the wrapper, I noticed that the ingredients were listed in small red lettering.

INGREDIENTS: Flour, Sugar, Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening, Margarine, Corn Starch, FD&C Yellow 5 & 6, FD&C Red #40, Citric Acid and Preserved with Sodium Benzoate.

I know it’s dessert, but this cookie barely has one redeeming ingredient to it’s name. It’s really just refined white flour mixed with sugar, trans fats, colors and preservatives. It’s funny to me that they have to add 3 different types of artificial colorings to achieve that “baked brown” look. I wonder what color the cookie would be without it.

My fortune is quite amusing and accurate. I’m taking a chance with my health just by eating the cookie! In fairness, one fortune cookie is not going to kill you, but understand you’re eating crap, even if it does come in a decorative package with lotto number suggestions.

Image: Ksayer1 via Flickr

I love ice cream. I love Cold Stone’s Signature Creation, Mud Pie Mojo (coffee ice cream, Oreos, peanut butter, roasted almonds and fudge). There is something about those two spades mushing up my gooey concoction on a freezing marble slab that makes me happy.  I’m a label-reading-freak and yet I somehow seem to turn a blind eye when out for an after-dinner treat. Just a quick look at this “creation” tells me that I’ll be eating a boatload of sugar along with a highly likely dose of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. But what about the ice cream itself?
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How Healthy is Your Ice Cream?

July is National Ice Cream Month!

In celebration of this sweet treat, check out our new infographic. How many scoops did you get? What’s your favorite ice cream? We want to hear your comments!

Click on the image below to see the full flowchart and to get the embed code to add it to your site.

Click on the image to see the full infographic

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