Why do we like labels so much? We like them so much we attach them to everything.
A label should make it clear as to what is inside, right?
But who put on the label and why should I use a label someone else applied?
Some labels make more sense or are more clear-cut than others. Like “Caution – high voltage!”
Others, like “Low Fat”, are not so clear.
Food labels can suck us into a sense of complacency where we think we know all we need to know after reading the label. Our brains do this because they like easy.
A label pre-filters the information for us, makes sense to our brains because it fills in the gaps and our brain says, “Just do it now!”
To stop and uncover the unconscious thinking our brain is doing we have to question the label as we are looking at it. I used to pick through food labels. I used to think food labels made a difference in my weight loss.
A lot of people think food labels make a difference. After all, our government requires them to exist and Big Food complies by testing ingredients to come up with the numbers on the labels.
But a food label is only a snapshot of that food. Once we put it into our bodies our complex system of homeostasis uses it in ways we are only now starting to understand.
Last week I discussed just one aspect of our modern diet, saturated and unsaturated plant and animal fats. We are still working out the science on fats after 100 years. But focusing on one thing without keeping it in context with the whole body will give only partial information. Because this is the way science currently hypothesizes, there is a lot of room for collateral, unintended consequences to result from the application of partial, out of context information.
John Berardi, Ph.D. and Helen Kollias, Ph.D. produced an infographic that considers why label reading and calorie counting is not an exact science when trying to lose weight.
I have mentioned before that the “calories in = calories out” theory doesn’t fit with the complexity of our bodies. But, remember, our brain wants easy so this way of thinking has taken a strong hold on many of us, for many years.
Over the past few years I have evolved my thinking to make weight loss easy without having to consider all the marketing, opinions, theories, and nutrition science that exists.
Eat whole foods.
Wait to eat until my body is hungry.
Stop eating when I am satisfied.
Listen to how my body and mind feel and function after eating food.
Rinse and repeat. Easy to remember in times of trouble. Simple to accomplish.
This thinking sounds easy but has required practice. My emotional dependence on food as my go to buffering and comforting partner had to be pushed into the back seat first. My emotional dependence on food still speaks up frequently from the back seat in an attempt to gain control over my eating. Sometimes she gets her way. But mostly she doesn’t.
If you like reading labels ask your self why?
If you give yourself permission to eat a processed food because it is low in fat, sugar, salt, or whatever other ingredient science says you should avoid then consider this.
Big food made it. Big food wants to make money and is marketing that food to get us to buy it.
Is it the best thing you can put in your body for yourself today?