“Link calories to minutes of exercise on food labels, says health body”
You’ve probably seen those images on social media that tell if you eat one piece of your kids Halloween candy you need to do 100 burpees, well now a healthy body here in the UK are suggesting we start labeling foods with this kind of information.
When I saw this on the news it made me cringe. I thought about it repeatedly today, trying to see it from every viewpoint, because undoubtedly there will be plenty of you who think this is a good idea. Well, here’s why I don’t think this is a good idea.
There are TWO issues that are being addressed, eating unhealthy foods and not moving our bodies enough or not moving them enough to ‘burn off’ these foods. The issue that needs to be addressed (and isn’t by this idea) is regarding healthy eating. What does healthy look like? How do you eat healthily a majority of the time? How can you make veggies taste great or make nutritious food more satisfying? How do you curb cravings? How can I make cost effective meals for my family?
It’s about education and this is a band-aid treatment for a long-term issue.
Telling young people that when you pick up a chocolate bar or bag of crisps that they now need to run/cycle/swim for X amount of time is going to start causing association issues. Okay, they might not pick that snack, but when they do (and they will) are they going to feel guilty for enjoying a ‘treat’, are they going to start shaming themselves because they gave into temptation? This is already happening because as adults we also behave in this way, we associate guilt and shame with food choices, this will only worsen the ‘dieters mindset’. I do not want my son to feel this way about food. We are going to have young people showing up at a gym and doing endless amounts of cardio to burn off a piece of chocolate. Perhaps the chocolate isn’t healthy, but neither is the concept that you can out train a bad diet. Linking certain foods to the number of minutes you need to exercise to burn them off, does not erase the effects on your metabolism, blood sugar levels or health. It’s merely another reminder we are still surrounded by the ‘calories in vs calories out’ theory.
I grew up with a dieters mindset and I know mum feels incredibly frustrated by this, but I remember always being proud that I knew how many calories are in a peanut (25, in case you are wondering). So I didn’t eat peanuts, and despite my love for peanut butter I rarely had it because it’s high in calories, it became this ‘naughty food’. What’s funny about this story is that I didn’t eat peanuts because they are high in calorie, but I wasn’t healthy, fit or slim. I was still overweight, because I lacked any knowledge about calories or health.
Instead of teaching people that working out is punishment for eating, we should be encouraging people to move in a way that satisfies them on a daily basis. Educating them that they don’t have to do a workout they loathe just to have a glass of wine, that walking is a hidden treasure for fat loss and actually living a satisfying life will create happiness. Yes many of us are overweight, but spending our entire lives in a diet-trap revolving door is no fun, it’s not healthy and these labels would encourage extreme measures.
Finally, there will be people who just don’t care about the labels. Cigarette packets have awful images of the damage nicotine and tar causes your body, yet people still smoke. Bottles of alcohol advise pregnant women not to drink, it still happens. We now have color coded labels telling us green is healthy and red is going to kill us, I still eat pizza and chocolate.
What do you think about these labels? Would it help you or make you a neurotic mess?
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