Are you a label reader?
Are you a calorie counter?
Are you both?
I was, errr...am, uh...kind of. I read labels. A lot. I want to know what is in the food I buy. I try really hard to avoid prepackaged foods when I can. let's face it, if I want that creamy macaroni and cheese, I'm better off making my own and knowing what I put it it. Yes, it's still likely going to be not very good for me with the carbs, the high fat content of cheese and high calories. But here's the thing that I keep thinking about. If I really want mac & cheese and I spend the time to make it myself, I get the enjoyment from cooking, I know what I put in it, I can tweak it to my liking, I can substitute skim milk for full fat milk to make it lower in calories and I must really really want it to make it on a weeknight after working all day. I'm also much more likely to be satisfied by a smaller portion of it, if it's really good homemade stuff.
So I read labels a lot. And I used to be a calorie counter. For quite a while. I had an app on my iPhone and a journal and I'd log my food via SparkPeople sometimes. There was something very controlled and comforting about logging food and know where I stood with calories, fat, carbs and protein each meal. And I spent a lot of time at the grocery store reading labels and putting together meals based on the information from the package. It was as though my tracker was my Bible and the food boxes were my preacher speaking to me about the Bible. I relied on them both and gained lots of insight into my eating, my portions and what I was getting from my daily food intake.
So when I saw this story: Rosen's Study on "diet" Frozen Treats I was flabbergasted. It NEVER occurred to me that the label on the side or back of that package would be incorrect. Let alone, totally misleading. It makes me wonder if this is why calorie counters sometimes have such trouble losing weight without the help of a Weight Watchers group to help interpret foods. Then I realized that the two biggest offenders in the study were from Weight Watchers themselves. Very interesting, don't you think?
What does this all mean? Well, for me, it means that I have to remember I am my biggest advocate in ALL THINGS. And in the case of food, I can advocate for myself by continuing to try and limit my packaged food intake. When I buy pasta, fresh cheese, milk, butter and whole what flour to make mac and cheese, I know what I'm putting in it. (Yes I realize that some of those items are "packaged" but I do the best I can with what I have at the time.) When I buy the blue box mac and cheese, I'm tied to what they tell me they've put in it and what that means to the calorie count and all the other information on the side.
What does it mean for you?