Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The unbearable lightness of feeding

Believe it or not, once upon a time we had no nutrition labels. We had no sell-by dates either. We may not have been (collectively) as obese, but we did have a mortality rate to match. But I digress.

Lately, I've been noticing calorie creep in the reduced-fat category. I've noticed it chiefly in potato chips and prepared salad dressings. In our house, potato chips aren't a snack, but an ingredient in a supreme comfort food, my mother's tuna casserole. Over the years I've successfully trimmed a lot of calories and excess salt from this recipe, by using fat-free Greek yogurt in place of white sauce, using low-sodium soup for the soup part of the dish, and by using reduced calorie potato chips in the crust. (Don't go reminding me that I could do this dish with pasta. Of course I could, but the chips add the comfort.) As a result, I've been watching the per-serving fat content of "reduced calorie" chips creep up to 7 g a serving.

Now, Pilgrims, not so many years ago an ordinary bag of potato chips had 7g of fat per serving. Doing a little comparison shopping, I saw that the best you can do in that line today is 9 g per serving. Some products are in double digits. The reduced-fat category is relative, not absolute. note too that when reduced-fat chips shaved 2 g of fat off 7 g , the fat content dropped about 28 percent. Shaving the same 2g of fat off 9 g, fat content drops about 22 percent. Clearly, there's a vanishing point somewhere in the future when the act isn't worth the trouble.

Much the same holds with reduced-fat salad dressings, which are a boon to those of us who have to swallow statins every day. Within the past couple of years, these products have undergone a similar, or greater, calorie creep. Worse, the variety of products seems to be shrinking, which is a blow to my salad-making at this season.

No wonder we're all getting fat.

Now that my curiosity is aroused, I'm going to take some names, or rather numbers, and track this trend. Results as they happen.

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Blogger malevolent andrea said...

Please read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. Please? I *know* you have the physiology background to understand the science and the skeptical attitude to appreciate what a lie the American public has been sold to the detriment of all our health.

In fact, I'd be happy to lend you my copy if you want.

1:35 am  
Blogger Uncle said...

So noted, and I appreciate the offer.
After I wrote that, out of curiosity I picked up a bag of chips: 15g of artery-stuffing saturated fat per serving! It's enough to take the comfort out of the comfort food.

11:47 am  
Blogger malevolent andrea said...

I hate to be That Person who goes around saying "Read this! It'll change your life!" but at least it's not religion I'm selling ;-) Though the difference between religion and health/fitness advice is very small these days. Hmmm...

1:22 pm  
Blogger massmarrier said...

That difference would be that one tries to save souls and the other savors sole?

10:46 pm  

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