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    Archive for the ‘Luna bars’ Category

    “Man Food”, “Woman Food”: A Very Profitable Food Industry Scam

    When it comes to marketing food, sex sells.  Well, gender, really.

    Food companies love to market what I refer to as “gendered foods”; that is, products that perpetuate the classic (and socially constructed) “this is for boys, this is for girls” dichotomy.

    Despite their proclamations of “addressing a particular concern” to a particular segment of the population, these gendered products are, in all actuality, “unisex” ones backed with highly gendered marketing campaigns.  In a 2009 post, I briefly touched upon “his” and “hers” vitamins.  This time around, let’s examine three of the bigger gendered food players.

    Continue Reading »


    Three Easy Ways To Reduce Your Intake of Added Sugars

    sugarFollowing last week’s post on the amount of added sugar in a large McDonald’s vanilla latte, I received several e-mails asking for tips on gradually reducing sugar consumption.

    Here are my three favorite strategies.  They are realistic, practical, and will have you consuming a lot less added sugar (and calories!) in a few weeks.

    1. At Starbucks: Call The Shots

    Although it’s common knowledge — and prominent in pop culture humor — that Starbucks lets you customize your drink to the last detail, many people forget this applies to the amount of sugar you get.

    Any time you ask for a beverage with flavored syrup in it (i.e.: hazelnut latte or caramel machiatto), these are the sugar and calorie amounts you are getting:

    • Tall: 1 pump of syrup (4 grams/1 teaspoon of sugar, 16 extra calories)
    • Grande: 3 pumps of syrup (12 grams/3 teaspoons of sugar, 48 extra calories)
    • Venti: 5 pumps of syrup (20 grams/5 teaspoons of sugar, 80 extra calories)

    Next time you order a Grande or Venti flavored drink, specify “with 1 pump of syrup.”  You’ll save yourself anywhere from 8 to 16 grams (two to four teaspoons!) of added sugar.

    2. Befriend seltzer

    A daily soda habit can be a difficult thing to change, particularly if the goal goes beyond simply replacing full-calorie soda with diet soda.

    My favorite tip here is to slowly wean yourself off regular soda with the help of seltzer.

    Say your soda habit consists of a 20-ounce bottle of Sierra Mist with dinner every night.

    Rather than make your goal 20 ounces of Diet Sierra Mist’s artificial chemicals a day, gradually adjust your tastebuds to flavored seltzer (which has no added sugars or sweeteners).

    Even though artificial sweeteners are calorie-free (or very low in calories), they register as “several times sweeter than sugar” with our tastebuds.  The last thing you want to do is make the tastebuds become accustomed to that degree of sweetness!

    Start by drinking a 75% soda/25% lemon-lime seltzer combination for one full week.  The next week, try a 50/50 ratio.  The week after that, create a 25/75 ratio.

    By the time you fully replace soda with seltzer, you will have effortlessly gotten rid of 188 calories (and 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar) from your diet.

    3. Get Your Energy From Whole Foods, Not Candy Energy Bars

    The vast majority of “energy bars” and “protein bars” are nothing more than vitamin-and-mineral-fortified chocolate bars with a sprinkle of extra protein.

    The average Luna bar has almost three teaspoons of added sugar, while a typical Clif Bar contains anywhere from five to six teaspoons (as much as 10 Hershey’s kisses).

    High-protein bars, meanwhile, can pack in as much added sugar as a 12-ounce can of soda.

    I am not suggesting you should never eat these bars, but they truly belong in the “treat” category (rather than under “healthy snacks”).

    As an alternative, pack one of the following snacks in your gym bag, briefcase, bookbag, or purse:

    • Handful of nuts of your choice
    • Lara or Clif Nectar bars (since the sugar in these bars is exclusively naturally-occurring from fruits, it is not a source of empty calories)
    • Mini nut butter sandwiches (try almond or cashew butter if you’re bored with peanut butter) made with 100% whole grain crackers
    • Low-sugar (no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving) 100% whole grain cereal

    Luna Lore

    I don’t really have a problem with Luna Bars. I think they’re okay once in a while, although at 190 calories and a tablespoon’s worth of added sugar, you’re better off having some whole fruit and a handful of raw nuts instead.

    They are definitely not bad enough to be considered one of my “wolf in sheep’s clothing” items, but I was a tad bit disappointed when I saw their latest line of products — Luna teacakes (not pictured).

    It’s not so much the product I have a problem with, but the claims on the label.

    For instance, the vanilla macadamia teacake is meant for “mood balance”.

    Per the eye-pleasing website, “Omega-3, vanilla for aromatherapy, goji berries for increasing spirits and optimism, and Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, connected to boosting mood through the stimulation of serotonin.”

    Let’s break this down.

    “Vanilla for aromatherapy.” Except this isn’t a candle. Unless you plan on snorting your Luna teacake, how is this relevant?

    “Goji berries for increasing spirits and optimism.” Yes, goji berries are a nutritional powerhouse (which I will soon feature as an “All-Star of the Day”), but to say they increase optimism is silly. Optimism is not a nutrient.

    As for the Vitamin D claim — the best way to get it is just by being out in the sun, so it truly IS the sunshine vitamin (no quotation marks necessary).

    Regardless, increased serotonin levels are also linked to carbohydrate consumption, so McDonald’s could make that same claim for their French fries!

    Again, though, this statement is such a leap. It would be equivalent to a company saying their blueberry sauce is relaxing because the color blue has been shown to lower stress levels.

    Although eating healthy, whole foods definitely provides us with more energy (in turn giving us an overall feeling of physical and emotional wellness), going to the other extreme and selling a food as a “mood upper” is just a hyperbolized marketing strategy.


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