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WHOLE GRAIN BANANAS

By on January 17, 2013

This post could easily be classified as another “RD rant,” but I’m trying my best to keep the steam from streaming from my ears this time. That said, here’s my rant…

The recent “whole-grain” movement is great. People are eating more fiber and decreasing their consumption of refined grains, which is never a bad thing (unless, of course, you’re on a low-fiber diet for medical reasons). The abuse of the movement, though, is absolutely bananas to me. Large food companies and restaurant chains are jumping on the whole-grain bandwagon faster than Usain Bolt can sprint 100 meters. Not only is business booming for food companies, but “better food” is also music to consumers’ ears. Your child’s favorite sugar-coated cereal is now “heart healthy” and your family’s favorite Italian restaurant famous for their cheesy, saucy, butter-laden dishes is now on the “healthful” list thanks to the addition of whole grain pasta to their dishes. Not so fast. A few weeks ago a friend asked me to check out a particular menu (cough::Carrabba’s::cough) and show her exactly what to order. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the “Pasta Weesie with Whole Grain Spaghetti” dish topping the nutrition facts chart for highest calorie, highest fat dish in the Signature Pasta category. Oh, and the sodium content: 3,193mg. That’s about 1,000mg more than anyone should consume in an entire day. But hey, it’s whole-grain, right!?

I see the same BS with gluten-free foods. It blows my mind how so many companies and restaurants are touting a “g-free” logo on some of their products when the rest of the ingredients are far from what’s considered “healthful.” Sure, having all these new products on supermarket shelves and on restaurant menus is extremely convenient for people who suffer from celiac disease or a true gluten intolerance, but it’s not a green light to eat as much as or want, or even the portion you’re served, for that matter. Companies and restaurants may have substituted a higher fiber pasta or taken out the gluten-containing ingredients, but they’re not monitoring your portions and they’re not counting your calories for you. That’s your job. Their job: sell, sell, sell and boy are they doing a great job of it.

I cringe at the thought of multi-million dollar brands excelling at the expense of an innocent bystander’s complete diet derailment. The moral of the story: Consumer beware. Read labels and stalk menus before you go.

Your RD,

Jenny

About Jenny

Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator & Certified Personal Trainer based in New York City.

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