Friday, January 26, 2007

Food follies

While waiting in the cafeteria line, I glanced at the packets of condiments on the counter. I'm all for truth in labeling but I found it odd that the Hellman's mayo packet was announcing, with a big zero in a noticeable red circle, that it had zero grams of carbs. I don't know about you but I was never really worried about the carb content of my mayo. Fat content, you betcha. Carb content? Not so much.

Apparently the packaging design people think consumers are going to say "Wow! I'm worried about my diet so I'll choose this awesome mayo with NO CARBS! Slather it on!"

I can't really blame the food companies for packaging stupidity. People want to have their cake and eat it too (pun intended) when it comes to eating junk food. They'll grab on to anything to make themselves feel better about eating crap (myself included). I've said before that I think Snack Wells and their ilk have contributed to the obesity epidemic in this country. Somehow, people have gotten the idea that they can eat as much low-carb crap as they want without gaining weight. Trans fats are the new carbs - every snack food that can get away with it screams about having little or no trans fats. Guess what - if you fill up on junk (with or without trans fat, low carb or otherwise) - you're going to gain weight. There is no such thing as a free bag of chips.

On the subject of blaming everyone but ourselves (read: food manufacturers and fast food companies) for our obesity, I read an article this week about an interview with supermodel Gisele Bundchen. She was discussing the recent trend of fashion shows refusing to allow underweight models to participate in runway shows. There have been recent accusations that the use of too-skinny models is leading to anorexia. She said it's not the fashion industry that causes anorexia, it's screwed up families that cause anorexia. Although I'm not ready to let the fashion industry off the hook completely, she has a point. But the best point she made was that modeling is all about genetics. There are certain people (like herself) who have the right genes to be a model. If you have to starve yourself in order to have the "right" body, you don't have the right genes and maybe you should think twice about your choice of profession.

The same is true of professional sports. Although there are legions of young boys who want to play in the NBA, there's about a million to one chance that any one of them will get there. For the most part, they won't have the genetics. Regardless of talent and no matter how hard you work, if you aren't very tall, you aren't going to be a professional basketball player. Play the game for fun but make sure you do your homework - don't count on that multi-million dollar contract to support your family.

I guess the bottom line of this post is that people don't like facing the simple fact that you can't have everything you want and sometimes the things you want aren't good for you. You can't eat all the junk food you desire and be healthy (or thin) - even if the junk food you eat has no trans-fats or carbs. You can't be an NBA superstar unless you're born with the right combination of genes. If you need to starve yourself to death to be skinny enough, you shouldn't try to be a runway model.

And if you don't like the media images of too-skinny models, stop buying clothes from designers who promote that kind of body image. Stop buying the magazines that sell those clothes. Or do what I do, refuse to go clothes shopping until you have nothing to wear (except horrible 1980's era suits with shoulder pads). It doesn't help anything but it gives me something to bitch about.


Jessica said...

Great points - and as a former personal trainer, I couldn't agree more.

Kristen said...

Oh yeah, don't even get me started on the food industry. First the rage was "fat free" where everyone started loading their food with carbs, but it was FAT FREE! WEE!! Then when they realized carbs were bad, too, we stopped hearing about fat. Who cares about fat? It's all about the carbs! In another couple of years, it'll be something else. The bottom line is that we all know what we should eat and what we shouldn't - and when we eat a bunch of junk food, no matter what the label says, we will not be healthy. End of story!