Have you ever been watching something for the millionth time, suddenly paid attention and realized what it was really saying? This happened to me the other day when watching TV. The commercial was for Special K cereal and Kellogg's was asking me to participate in The Special K Challenge. I had never really paid much attention to this commercial until I realized they're asking me to eat two bowls of cereal and nothing else before five in the evening.
Um, are you nuts? One bowl makes me hungry and then I want another and its only, like, 8 in the morning! I know this because before I was a more conscious eater I could eat an entire box of Special K Red Berries in one sitting. In fact, after my first trip to Greece I returned, jet lagged, sat on the couch with my roommates, ate an entire box and proceeded to fall asleep at seven p.m. on a Saturday.
Lets investigate this crap my body seemed to love. First, the ingredients list.
We start out with rice which is okay although not terrible nutritionally dense. Then wheat gluten which is just another phrase for carby tastiness and also lacking in nutritional value. Then comes number three, sugar, very tasty and very useless. Defatted wheat germ? I'm not even sure I know. And of course, every five year old's favorite food is number five: high fructose corn syrup. Useless, cheap and total junk. Companies are putting this in everything to get you addicted to eating it and also to save dollars on actual sugar. At least Kellogg's put real sugar in the cereal at all. The rest is all additives that allow the company to claim nutritional value. Vitamin E? Clearly it's good for you!
Now to the actual vitamin and mineral content - the stuff that allows a company to claim their product has nutritional value.
Low calorie? Sure. Low fat? Sure. Full of vitamins? Kind of, since they're added to rice, wheat gluten and defatted wheat germ to become 'nutritional'. You'll notice that the first label mentions folic acid, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and Vitamins A, B, C and E. You'll also notice the added vitamins are the same as those that have 100% of value. This cereal is what they call fortified. It doesn't naturally contain any of the items with the highest percentages.
Assuming you decide to participate in the Special K Challenge (in the amount they suggest with the milk serving they suggest) you'll have eaten 320 calories, one gram of fat and only twelve grams of protein. Thank God you can eat whatever you want for dinner because you'll be starving and falling asleep on the job. Your body needs about 20% of protein per pound of body fat, 30% of calories from fat and we've already discussed calorie needs per person in the past.
Lets say you're 5 foot 5 inch tall woman who weight about 145 pounds (for the sake of the argument, you know, not because that's easy for me) and thus need a minimum of 1400 calories per day, 30ish grams of protein and something like 40ish grams of fat per day. You'll need 1000 calories, 29 grams of protein and 39 grams of fat in your dinner. Hope you don't plan to do anything after you eat all that because you'll either fall asleep from exhaustion or be in the bathroom all night. If you were to try to eat a healthy dinner you'd need to cover your lettuce in about half a cup of olive oil and at least four ounces of lean poultry to get anywhere near those calories, fat and protein. Hope you enjoy oily salad!