One of the reasons I became a Registered Dietitian was my own personal lack of nutrition knowledge which only kept me locked into bad habits of course I did not know were bad habits. In school I wanted to be one of the group whatever my friends ate I ate. Pizza, fries, soda, cookies etc. Then years later being a young mother I started to realize that I was heavier than my circle of friends. I tried diets without anything really working for more than a few months. It took many years of trial and error until I started educating myself. Once you have the basics down it seems that weight control becomes manageable. One of the basics includes reading the nutrition labels on food and knowing how many calories your body needs every day.
Recently I was in one of my favorite supermarkets. My favorite cereal was not to be found and I had to buy a substitute brand of cereal. I did look at the label briefly and thought it was okay.
Today I was going to have my usual breakfast parfait and I looked closely at the nutrition label and was really surprised. It made me realize that another important part of everyday nutrition can be mistaken.
I caught the misrepresentation because I know what to look for. I realized that there are probably so many innocent victims shopping and believing that what they are buying is accurately presented on the food label. This is why I am writing this article. If the public will start to acknowledge false labeling on food the companies will have to own up and stop misrepresenting their products.
The basic knowledge needed to assess a nutrition label starts with knowing that one gram of either carbohydrate or protein is equivalent to four calories. One gram of fat is equivalent to nine calories.
Without naming the culprit cereal I can tell you that there label reads A� cup dry cereal has 50 calories.
Let's compute this together:
-Total fat:.5 gms (9/2=2.25 calories)
-Total carbohydrate: 23 gms (23x4=92 calories)
-Protein: 3 gms (3x4=12 calories)
So far the total calories are 106.25 calories. If that were not bad enough also listed at the bottom of the nutrient breakdown was to my horror: Other carbohydrate: 9 gms (9x4=36 calories). The total now for A� cup of this cereal is 142.25 calories. That is almost three times the amount listed.
I decided to ask another respected nutrition professional and she told me that she had a similar instance with a different food product. I told her I was going to contact the company and her suggestion was to twitter them. I did a little research and found so many people on the internet with similar situations. I did tweet and I am hoping that enough people will read this article and my tweet and take some action.
I hope you will share your experiences with nutrition labels. The take home message is not to believe everything you read.