29
Jun
11

A healthy diet isn’t a Mad Lib

…and neither is an unhealthy one.  So why the blue-veined throbbing burns-when-you-pee fuck do people write articles like this?

Consumer Reports found that 11 popular brands are more than 40 percent _<macronutrient>_ by weight, and even brands that at first glance may seem relatively healthy include some surprises in the fine print of their nutrition labels. For example, one cup of _<pretentiously health-conscious food product>_ contains _<large number when taken out of context>_ _<SI or Imperial unit>_ and the same amount of _<macronutrient>_ (_<a different number>_ _<SI or Imperial unit>_) as a standard-sized _<junk food product your high school Health teacher told you was icky>_; once you add a half _<serving size or SI or Imperial unit>_ of _<shockingly ordinary food item>_, it has roughly the same amount of _<macronutrient>_ (_<a still different number>_ _<SI or Imperial unit>_) as a _<large corporation that makes Naomi Klein cry>_  _<food product marketed by that corporation>_.

Let’s fill in those blanks, shall we?

Consumer Reports found that 11 popular brands are more than 40 percent sugar by weight, and even brands that at first glance may seem relatively healthy include some surprises in the fine print of their nutrition labels. For example, one cup of Cascadian Farms Organic Oats and Honey Granola contains 348 calories and the same amount of sugar (19 grams) as a standard-sized Hershey bar; once you add a half cup of 2 percent reduced fat milk, it has roughly the same amount of fat (11.5 grams) as a McDonald’s Cheeseburger.

Is a food with 348 kcal “unhealthy”?  Depends on what else you’re eating.  If your energy intake is 350-some kcal over what you need to support your activity level, then — maybe! — it’s unhealthy.  But we’re talking about breakfast, here: you’ve just fasted (hence the name) for eight or more hours, so your body needs some calories to crank itself up before you start cannibalizing lean muscle.  Is 19g of sugar “unhealthy”?  If you eat it at breakfast, probably not: it’s likely to go straight into energy systems rather than swim around as blood glucose for a while before getting converted into adipose tissue.  On the other hand, if you’re diabetic, 19g of sugar might be a very bad idea; but on the gripping hand, if you eat that 19g of sugar with plenty of other foods that provide fats and fibre, you might not take it up quickly enough for it to cause trouble.

You can’t just take a grab-bag of random food-related nouns and cite it as proof that whatever you’re writing about is scaaaaawy!  Nutrition is hard, and there ain’t no such thing as an easy answer.  If you’re looking to skip the endocrinology texts and just want to eat a healthy breakfast, though, I’d suggest 800kcal or so of bacon, eggs, and steel-cut oatmeal with water and coffee.  I suggest that Greg Beato consider fruit juices for his next zOMGWTFBBQ column: apples and oranges minus the fibre you get from the actual fruits are mostly just brimming glasses of blood sugar.  Not that that’s necessarily a problem at breakfast, mind you, but it’s handy to know what you’re getting.

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