February 18, 2012

Not So Grainy After All

You remember how I was all excited that we were eating healthier? We were reducing sugar, and eating more whole grain? Yeah, apparently I was falling for market hype. And now the FDA is upset with misleading labels. Part of the problem is there hasn’t been a standard for what a “good” or “excellent” source of whole grain is. The new rules will require manufactures list a gram or oz count, to avoid consumer confusion.

Remember those Eggo Waffles I thought were so good for us? They’re more white flower than whole wheat. There’s even an accusation of companies using food coloring to make products appear more like whole grain. It’s sneaky, to say the least. I’m sure this is part of the reason the FDA is getting involved. I’m not saying we would have avoided waffles had we realized the whole grain claim was misleading, but I certainly wouldn’t have paid a premium for them.

While this revelation is a bit discouraging, at least it’s not all bad news for us. I learned you can get a sense of the truthfulness behind whole grain claims by the fiber count. Whole grains are typically high in fiber. One tortilla roll has 48% of the daily fiber recommendation! And the bread we buy lists the number of grams of whole grain (11 per slice and 22 per sandwhich!), which is nearly half of the daily recommendation.

For now, I will stick to products that list a concrete amount of whole grain instead of vague claims like “made with whole grain”. I’ve always preferred ingredients I recognize (‘flour’, ‘sugar’, etc). I knew I was never going to be 100% whole grain, or 100% organic food, or any other healthy category. That was never the goal. We want to continually improve our eating habits. Hopefully with the new guide lines, we will continue to do that, and not be tricked into just thinking we’re eating healthier.

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