It is a truth universally aknowledged that things generally become more obvious when they are pointed out to you.
I say this as I sit here feeling quite virtuous drinking my ‘No added sugar, contains 10% real fruit’ tropical squash, delighted at the fact that the little colour chart on the bottle contains only green triangles, and I therefore must be doing my insides some good.
Ever since Sainsburys introduced a pie chart on their packets allowing the consumer to more easily judge which substances are better for their health using a red/amber/green system, this has led to a slight obsession in our household as to which foodstuffs enter the shopping trolley each week. It has even got to the stage where if the chart contains more orange triangles than green, we have been known to put something back and go without our cheesy savoury butternut twists or our chunky mango yoghurty delight for fear of mental repremand. Indeed it is with greater frequency we will actually stand amongst the supermarket aisles of a Thursday evening actually debating the virtues of one product over another – which although has done wonders for my negotiating and problem solving skills, is on the whole perhaps a little sad (although it’s good to know we are quite well matched as a couple).
What does interest me however, is that a reduced amount of thought goes in to purchasing the items not containing this little wheel of healthy living fortune – for instance the little flapjack squares I sometimes hide under the bag of spinach as a little treat, or Neil’s weekly vice of ‘Cinnamon Whirls’. It is common sense to both of us that neither of these products are likely to help us with our ‘5-a-day’, prevent dementia, breast cancer, heart disease or gout, or even reduce harmful plaque build up, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue. If such yummy things were to have the little chart on them, no doubt containing the ‘red traingles of death’, I wonder if we’d think twice before plucking them off the shelves and would enjoy munching them with our low carb, half fat ice cream when we got home….?
I’m finding that the act of eating has become increasingly laden with guilt, and watching ‘You’re Killing your Kids’ whilst tucking into a Deep Pan Hot Fajita Chicken Pizza or ‘Obese Teens’ whilst daubing Sour Cream onto a jacket potato has led to us stricking off such meals from our menu for good. Now I am drawn to items when shopping that are contained within the virtuous green and white wrapping, meaning it is of the ‘good for you’ brand and thus I should be able to tuck into them without fear of an expanding waist line. This however is actually rubbish in quite a lot of cases, and doing a quick comparison on some foods shows that it is the often the cereal bar in the glitzy wrapper giving away half price tickets to ‘Alsatian World’ or the Jar of Tomato Sauce ‘Win a Hosepipe!” that come out better in the health stakes. Still, I will always be tempted to buy the ‘good for you’ because it says exactly that…
So where am I going with this? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know Sainsburys have helped me in some respects by introducing their wheel of nutritional guilt, as I now appear to be a more convenient shape for my clothes (so some of it must be working) and often opt for a nectarine before reaching for a pot of gooey caramel topped chocolate pudding – and I don’t need a pie chart to tell me that’s better for my innards.
I guess it is a matter of common sense really, eat the bad things in moderation, eat the good things in abundance…
And the odd flapjack hidden underneath the bag of spinach isn’t going to kill you.
But the Cinnamon Whirls might….