Monday, April 27, 2015

What's Inside The Package?

Before I go to the grocery store, I usually have a list of everything I need to purchase for the week.

If I don't, my grocery bill will be double the amount I intended it to be. 


Because I will get sucked into purchasing grocery and household items based on their outer appearance.

Marketplace grocery and household items are contained in very attractive packages.

Take cheese for example. 

As soon as I get to the cheese section at the grocery store, I am faced with about thirty different types of cheese that all look delicious!

Suddenly, I think I need to purchase white American cheese versus the yellow American cheese that I initially intended to purchase along with cheese sticks and various flavors of brick cheese because they look good.

And then...

Wait a minute.

Did I just see veggie cheese?


It looks so healthy.  And, I found it in the vegetable section at the grocery store too!

I think to myself,  Maybe I should get some veggie cheese because it is probably made with vegetables.

But, after reading the ingredients label, I realize these cheddar flavor shreds are not made with whole vegetables, but with soy base (filtered water, isolated soy protein).

The Go Veggie! cheese product above contains the following: Soy Base (filtered water, isolated soy protein), Casein (a dried skim milk protein), Canola Oil, Modified Food Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, 2% or less of Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Enzyme-Modified Cheese Flavor which incudes cultured milk, salt, enzymes, and calcium chloride, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Sorbic Acid (a preservative), Dried Yeast, Carrageenan (Cara...who?), Lactic Acid, Food Color known as carotenal (must be related to Carrageenan), Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin C, Ferric Orthophosphate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, Butterfat, Riboflavin, Vitamin E, Potato Starch, Powdered Cellulose to prevent caking, Natamycin - a natural mold inhibitor (well, at least it's natural).

The package also claims that this food product melts and stretches.

So, is it cheese then?

No.  This is definitely NOT cheese. 

Cheese is the curd of milk separated from the whey.

This nice colorful package contains a cheddar flavor processed cheese food alternative that is not made with whole vegetables.

In fact, soy protein isolate is mainly used in food products as an emulsifier and to improve texture.

But, since the label of this food product is GoVeggie! consumers are led to believe that it is as healthy as eating fresh vegetables, especially when the slogan on the package says, "Eat Smart. Live Happy.  GO Veggie!"

And by the way, there is also a Go Veggie! processed cheese food alternative that is made with rice instead of soy. 

Is rice a vegetable?

Do you see how misleading the brand names of food products can be?

The colorful packages of food attract the eye of the consumer and the marketing claims lead you to believe the product inside the package is healthy.

"Naturally Flavored, Made With Whole Oats, Sweetened With Real Honey Flavor, and Can Help Lower Cholesterol," are examples of marketing claims used to convince consumers to purchase food products.

Take a look at this package of Lucky Charms cereal:

Each marshmallow has a description beside implying that cereal containing marshmallows is healthy.

This Lucky Charms cereal box claims the cereal inside has no high fructose corn syrup, has 10 grams of sugar per serving, and is a good source of calcium and vitamin D.

Did you also notice at the bottom of the box the words Goodness first?

Consumers may purchase a package of Lucky Charms because after reading the marketing claims, they believe marshmallow cereal is not only magically delicious, but it is healthy too!

Unfortunately, Lucky Charms cereal is not magically healthy.
If you read the ingredients list on the side of the cereal box, whole grain oats are the first ingredient which is good and healthy.

But, they are covered with sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, corn starch, dextrose, artificial colors and flavors which is not so healthy.

It's like taking peanuts (healthy) and covering them with chocolate and a candy layer to make M&M's (not so healthy). 

Sure, Lucky Charms and M&M's taste good, but they are in no way, shape, or form considered to be healthy.  But, the marketing world tries to make us believe that they are!

The marketing world is very good at their job which is to get consumers to buy products.  

The food industry is a business. 

The food industry is happy to accept your money and presents food and beverage items in colorful packages to get your attention.

When I go down the cereal isle at the grocery store, I don't see cereal.  I see high-fiber breakfast products with added vitamins and minerals that have been clinically shown to enhance my morning performance.

Successful strategies to marketing food includes showing consumers that the food product is more than the food itself.

This is the challenge we face as consumers of the foods and beverages being marketed to us.

Our challenge is to start being more mindful when we are purchasing food and to try to pay attention to the food itself.

The marketing world will continue to label foods using misleading names and claims which promote unhealthy consumer choices, behaviors, and lifestyles. 

In a nutshell, don't let the powerful influences of the marketing world fool you. 

The only way to truly know what is inside the package is to read the food label.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Caught Up In The Moment

We've all done it. 

Getting caught up in the moment of doing something other than what you should be doing at that moment in time. 

Daydreaming about a glorious summer vacation while you should be productive at work. 

Catching the last episode of your favorite T.V. show instead of studying for that test tomorrow.

Surfing Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram catching the latest on what your friends are getting into these days instead of doing household chores or anything else on the to-do list.

Trust me.  I get it.  I live it.  The acknowledgement of having responsibility.  It's always been there and it's not going away. 

Responsibility.  There's ALWAYS something that needs to be done. 

And not only is there always that something that needs to be done, but there is a moral component included because we either did a good or bad job completing our responsibilities.

But, when it comes to the responsibility of our health, what do we truly deem as being right, wrong, good, or bad? 

Do we believe we are being "good" because we are following the latest fad diet? 

Is it "right" to take control of our health by counting calories and exercising to prevent weight gain so that we can look good in less clothing for the summer season?

As the weather is getting warmer, there are more commercials on the radio to purchase products that will help people lose weight and get rid of unwanted fat just in time for bikini season.

I respect the fact that individuals want to look good, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and take control of their health.

I also think it is important for individuals to self-reflect by asking questions such as, "Who am I looking good for, and why am I trying to lose weight?

Questions such as, "Am I losing weight to look good on the beach?  Am I trimming up and building muscle so that I can look good for those wedding pictures?  Am I counting calories so that I can achieve a healthy weight to look good for my boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife?"

And, what makes us feel attractive?

Do you look in the mirror, take a brief moment then conclude either:

(A.)  I like what we see.
(B.)  I hate what we see.

(C.)  I don't care what I look like.

Or, do you rely on other people to determine your self-worth, physical attractiveness, or acceptance in society? 

What about the concept of looking good for YOU and no other person, place, or thing?

What about finding a healthy balance within yourself because YOU want to?

What about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight because YOU are worth it?

Based on commercials and what is on television these days, the societal standard is to continue to look young and be happy.

However, the means of looking young and being happy according to advertisements is to drink adult beverages, eat burgers, take prescription drugs, and have plastic surgery.

And, do we not get caught up in the moment when we see and hear these advertisements?

That moment when the commercial allows you to imagine being thin or muscular because of a new diet or weight loss pill.

That moment when you can imagine eating that indulgent burger layered with melted cheese.

That moment of imagining yourself dancing with your soul-mate at age 68 and still being able to make sweet love because of a magical blue pill.

It's that moment of happiness. 

The feeling many of us strive to achieve on a regular basis.

And if we are not feeling content or happy from within ourselves, then we may strive to achieve these feel-good emotions via drugs, alcohol, sex, plastic surgery, vacations, consuming food in excess, restricting food, or spending money.

Can that irresistible ice cream bar covered with three layers of milk chocolate make you feel better?

Will adhering to the latest fad diet to lose ten pounds provide a sense of satisfaction and contentment?

If you kick back and have a few beers then will you feel happy and relaxed?

I predict the answer to these questions is...


But, the feelings of contentment that may result from consuming high fat and high calorie foods, using the latest fad diet to lose weight, or consuming beers and spirits until you feel a happy buzz are only temporary.

Not all temporary moments of happiness are healthy or beneficial to your well-being.

It's your choice to determine the external sources that will not only provide temporary moments of happiness, but will also benefit your long-term health and wellness.

It's easy to get caught up in the moment when you are feeling pleasant as a result. 

At the same time, it can be challenging to determine whether or not your long-term health and happiness is taking a toll due to the indulgence of external sources that provide temporary happy moments.

The good news is we have the ability to live our own lives and think for ourselves. 

We can choose to get caught up in the temporary moments that lead to long-term health and wellness instead of long-term health destruction.

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis. -- Margaret Bonnano