Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One of the problems with striving to eat "healthy"

In recent months, I have added a number of food politics blogs to my reading list.  It's interesting to get some perspective on the highly political world of food packaging decision making.  It makes sense that an industry that generates this much money would run into issues with making claims on their packaging that might not exactly be true (as in proven by science).

Take for instance this article about probiotic sellers (in this case yogurt manufacturers in Europe).  The EU is making changes to what health claims manufacturers are going to be allowed to put on their packaging.  New, tougher standards are going to require increased scientific testing before they can claim their product can positively impact this or that condition.  Obviously, the manufacturers aren't happy because without those claims, you are only going to buy their product based the fact that you actually like yogurt -- not that it is some kind of cure all for every ill.

The interesting thing about this is how under the radar these health claims fly for me (and I assume for many of you).  If Jamie Lee Curtis is telling me Activia with help my digestive system better than some no-name yogurt that isn't "designed" to help my digestive system-- I have assumed that was actually true.  But -- buyer beware!  This very claim is now on the losing end of the EU's new stricter guidelines.

We are all susceptible to food advertising.  Extend the skepticism you associate with used car salesmen, quick-talking mortgage brokers, and diet gurus to "health food" claims.  They are all out to sell you something and are willing to tell you what you want to hear to get you to buy.

Just because something says it's healthy doesn't mean it is.  And when you find yourself eating when you're not hungry, that is the definition of overeating.  Eating when you're not hungry (even if it's a "healthy" choice) is still eating too much.

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