Calorie check in isle 5, please?
Before I started counting calories, I hadn’t paid much attention to nutrition labels. At least, not nearly as much as I do now. Sure, I would check fiber and protein counts occasionally. Sometimes I’d double check to make sure a product didn’t contain any trans fat. Beyond that I was in the land of ignorance-is-bliss. I figured that similar products would all be about the same calories, unless something was marked as “light” – and then I assumed the item was ok to have on a diet.
When I did start to track calories, obviously this required me to pay close attention to those labels. It was a huge eye-opener. Products that seem exactly the same – can vary in calories to a huge degree. Once I saw that, reading the labels of everything I buy has become both a necessity and an obsession. It certainly has made shopping trips take a lot longer, but the quality of food I’m buying is worth the extra time. Something that can look and taste almost the same, can differ in calories by a few hundred. And the big surprise, not all of those items labeled “light” are really lower calorie.
Just today, I was looking for some quick, easy lunches. I found some instant-noodle bowls that looked interesting. They all looked about the same, but read the label and one package was around 500 calories. Another was under 300.
Another thing to watch out with those nutrition labels, sometimes I feel like they design them to fool the consumer. Something that may look like it’s a low-calorie item, may not be at all – it all depends on the portion size too. I see this a lot in cereals. We found an awesome tasting cereal that was made to look healthy and low calorie, but the one serving the nutrition label was basing it’s numbers on was so small, there would be no way to feel satisfied with it.
Scanning the labels is pretty time consuming, and with a husband and two kids usually in tow – it’s not very practical. The first few weeks of calorie counting, I had to go shopping on my own so I could spend the time to look at all the labels on the shelf. Thankfully, now things have gotten a lot easier. I’m starting to be familiar with what to expect for calories for certain items. I’m getting to know the brands that have the lower calories so shopping trips aren’t as slow as they used to be.
It took time to make this part of our regular routine and way of eating. But it’s well worth the time we invested.