Exercise, Day 9: New Books!

January 6, 2009 at 11:10 am 1 comment

Yesterday was MUCH BETTER as fasting days go.  I was hungry enough to feel like I was accomplishing something, but I wasn’t ‘jonesing’ for food.  That’s probably a tacky way to describe it, but when I’m in that horrible compulsive mode, I can completely understand what it must be like to be a drug or cigarette addict.  At any rate, I was just glad to feel like I was doing well again.

The happy weigh-in probably helped.

Anyway, I finally got around to rewarding myself for completing the LAST 21-day goal.  I got myself two books at Wal-Mart last night.  Naturally, given the Resolution Season, there are a ton of diet and exercise books out there, but these two in particular caught my eye a few days ago, and I finally decided that I wanted them badly enough to go get them. So I did.  I also picked up the latest People Magazine, the one that features their yearly ‘Half Their Size’ articles, and some Omega-3 and Probiotics supplements, as per Dr. Johnson’s recommendation. (I would have gotten B vitamins too, but my multivitamin already has all of those.)

The first book I got was the Men’s Health book entitled “Eat This, Not That”.  It’s a supermarket guide that pits popular, comparable supermarket products against each other and lets you know which is better for you.  I was particularly attracted because really, this is the burning question in my mind.  I know as well as anyone that food companies play fast and loose with words and packaging to promote their products.  In earlier years, it was “Low Fat” and “Diet”, but in more recent years, the buzzwords have been ‘Natural’, ‘Multigrain’ and ‘Whole’.  A tendency toward brown ‘kraft paper’ packaging or white ‘health food’ labels is also becoming fashionable.  I guess if it looks like it’s being sold by Grandma Jones and packaged in the only thing she had available, that supposedly means it’s healthier.

But marketing is like that, and there’s a lot of meaningless posturing going on.  Something might brag it is ‘Reduced Fat’, but that technically means it has less fat than the other version.  How much less fat, though?  1 gram? 0.5 grams?  And while the fat content may be reduced, it says nothing about the sugar content, or the sodium.  A lot of time ‘reduced fat’ or ‘reduced sugar’ or ‘reduced sodium’ foods  make up for the ‘healthy’ deficit by bulking up on other, potentially even LESS healthy additives and such.

I noticed this awhile back when I was shopping for oatmeal.  Quaker came out with something they called a “Women’s Weight Control’ formula or something like that.  At the time I wasn’t actively dieting, but I’ve obviously been well aware I was overweight for years.  Oatmeal tastes good, and if I could get a formulation that had some magical weight-loss properties to it, hey.. awesomesauce in a bottle, you know?

But then I checked the label, as my WW training compelled me to do, and I learned that while it had maybe 10 fewer calories per serving than the brand I usually buy, it actually had a lot less fiber and fewer vitamins.  Or something…. I don’t remember the specifics.  I just remember being dismayed to find that the label data didn’t suggest it actually was better.  It was just slightly different.  I was kind of disgusted.

And this experience has been part of my frustration as I try to come up with a meal plan, too.  When I’m shopping, I’m spending 80% of the time I’m there making sure my kids aren’t running around or knocking things over, or grabbing food and putting it in the cart, or taking food from the cart and breaking it or dropping it, or taking my keys and dropping THOSE, or getting lost, or bumping into people, or begging me for things I won’t buy.  I have four children, they’re homeschooled, so I can’t very well avoid this.  It’s just part of the job.

Suffice it to say, though, that this makes taking my time and comparing labels a bit of a challenge.  The day I did the oatmeal thing, Andy was with me..which made it easier in that moment. But truth be told, Andy is even WORSE to shop with than shopping alone.  Andy’s goal when it comes to supermarket shopping is to get in there, get some food that tastes okay, pay as little as possible and get out, preferably in record time.  The last time we went (Sunday), he winningly decided to get us some fried chicken from the Deli for lunch right after we walked in, and thereby not only set me up for a high-points day, but also armed himself with an excuse to nag me to hurry up. “The chicken is going to get cold!”  Yeah, well.. maybe you should have picked it up LAST, then? Eh?

So…I want to go shopping alone.  Without him, without the kids.  I want to figure out what I really want, what I really would feel good about eating, etc, and then buy only those things.  We buy so much crap that sits in our pantry week after week, waiting to become ‘last resort’ food on days when we have no idea what else to make.  I guess I like canned-green-bean-with-hamburger-helper-and-some-random-rice-a-roni-mix hash as well as the next person, but I can’t believe it’s really GOOD for us.

Anyway..so then I see this book.  And like I said, it does exactly what I want it to do.  It says, “You see these Mission Multigrain Tortillas you bought a couple of weeks ago?  I know it says Multigrain, and it looks all brown and chunky, but when you ate it you ate enough calories to represent a full meal before you even put anything on it.   The ‘Flat-out Wraps’ would have been a better call.”  The book gives the calories, fat (sat and unsat) and fiber content per serving, so you can see what they’re talking about.   And the brands are things I’ve seen in my supermarket, so it feels relevant and familiar.

It also contains surprising information, too.  For example, disclaiming that sugared cereals are not exactly the nutritional ideal, there are some that are better than others.  If you’re faced with a choice between Cookie Crisp and Chocolate Chex, which should you choose?  Believe it or not, the say, you should go  the Cookie Crisp, which has fewer calories, less fat, no saturated fat (compared to Chex’s 1.5g), less sugar and the same amount of fiber per 1-cup serving.  Choosing between Apple Jacks and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios?  Go for the Apple Jacks, which contains 50 fewer calories, 1.5 fewer fat grams, and 4 grams less sugar.  The extra 1 gram of fiber you get from AC Cheerios doesn’t make up for the rest.  And  if you’re choosing between Golden Grahams and Honeycomb (Rachel), they say take the Honeycomb.  Half the calories, half the fat, half the sugar, same amount of fiber.

Wow.  Now, granted…the servings here are measured by volume (1 cup, as opposed to so many grams), so naturally ‘puffed’ cereals are going to come in lower than comparable ‘less puffed’ stuff, which will crowd more actual cereal pieces into a bowl.  But most us (I know this is true of me) think of our cereal intake in terms of volume rather than weight.  If I could really eat two bowls of Honeycomb rather than 1 bowl of Golden Grahams, I’d rather do that.

I am happy I bought this book.  🙂   It’s supposed to be a handbook, one you flip through as you’re planning your meals for the week or while you’re actually at the supermarket.  But I could actually sit down and read the thing straight through. It’s really fascinating.

They apparently update the book each year to address new products and such.  (I was surprised the Mission Multigrain tortillas were in there, since they’re reasonably new, but they were!).  This just makes me feel a lot better about shopping and planning somehow.  I feel like I’m going in more prepared now.

I declined to get myself the Bob Greene diet book, as a glance through it made it clear that it is a diet approach, and I’m still pretty happy with mine.  I got the cookbook instead, as it seems to have enough nutrition tips to give me what I think I want to know, and it obviously has all the recipes. 😉  I’ll probably talk about that one more when I get a chance to use it.

Woo!  Coming up on the end of my second walking hour.  Go me!

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Entry filed under: Exercise, Successes. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment

  • 1. Melalvai  |  January 6, 2009 at 11:41 am

    That sounds like a really interesting book. I’m naturally suspicious of most prepared foods so it could be the eye-opener for me would be that some of those products are actually ok.

    I don’t choose Golden Grahams when I want a healthy snack. I’d never investigated the nutrition labels closely, I just assumed it was a better choice than ice cream or oreos though not particularly healthy! Sounds like my instincts were right, that it is not healthy.


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