As you sit back, relax and sip your “Morning Joe” while reading this week’s installment, hold off on adding any creamer (powdered or otherwise) until you finish swallowing what I’m about to tell ya.
I know most, if not all, of you are health conscious enough to read food labels when you go grocery shopping. And I also know, that most of you are keenly aware of how to read said labels. Right? Well, maybe not.
Did you know that the US Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers of packaged food products to indicate, on the product name and label, that an item is Sugar-Free, Cholesterol-Free and Fat-Free when indeed it may not be?
Yes Sir, and Madame, that’s true. Why? Well because of Serving Sizes. Huh, you say? What does a product’s Serving Size have to do with whether there is Sugar, Cholesterol or Fat contained in the product?
In regards to its Sugar., “foods” are allowed to display a “0 g” content if the amount of Sugar is less than 0.5 grams per serving. The same holds true for “calculating” a food’s Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat amounts.
For Cholesterol, companies are allowed to claim “Cholesterol-Free” as long as there are less than 2 milligrams of Cholesterol and no more than 2 grams of Saturated Fat per serving.
Discouraging ain’t it? No? Why? Because, you say, the amounts are so small, they won’t matter in the long run? Really? Well, try this on for “size”…
Let’s say you’re like Tracy (who used to use Nestle’s Coffee-Mate Original Fat-Free Powder coffee creamer) and, as it does, the label “reads” 0 grams of this and 0 grams of that per serving. That may be true and all well and good, if in fact she, and everyone else who “measures” everything stuck to only using one serving. However, at least for Tracy, and I am sure for most people who use this type of creamer, one serving isn’t enough. Is two, three or four servings enough? If so, how many cups a day are you drinking and therefore, how many total servings of the Creamer are you using? And now, the Total Sugar, Cholesterol and Fat? Exactly!
In this example, ONE SERVING (which is 1 teaspoon) of this particular creamer sports zeros across the board on its label. Total Fat, 0. Saturated Fat, 0. Polyunsaturated Fat, 0. Cholesterol, 0. But, according to a scientific lab study, this Fat-Free Creamer actually contains 0.4 grams of fat per serving. Let’s say you uses six teaspoons (equal to two tablespoons) of the powder to each during the day, multiply the Serving Size by six. What do you get. That’s right! You get 2.4 grams of fat per Cup-A-Joe! Unfortunately, the study did not indicate the “trace” amounts of Cholesterol that may be in this product.
So, I know what your question is…”How do I know how many grams of ‘unwanted ingredients’ am I eating”. Unfortunately, you really don’t. But I can tell you this much, if you are ingesting much larger amounts than the Serving Sizes listed on the labels of your “favorite” Sugar-Free, Cholesterol-Free and Fat-Free “foods” you are adding too many empty calories to your daily intake and limiting the chances of you reaching your “dietary” goals.
That’s right, remember, I am not just talking about Coffee Creamer. I am talking about any and every “Zero” processed-thing you consume; Carbolites, Sugar-Free / Fat-Free ice pops, cookies, beverages (diet soda maybe?), chewing gum, etc. If it’s processed, it’s probably “free” on all or any levels.
So, here’s a tip…assume that every serving of every “free” thing you eat contains 0.4 grams of Sugar, Fat and Cholesterol. That way, you’ll hopefully limit, reduce or forgo their use.
And on this day in history, May 19, 1977 – “Smokey & the Bandit,” premieres. One of my favorites!