As someone who would like to make a better effort to eat healthy, one of the worst things I’ve found for my morale is to take a look at the nutritional labels printed on the side of every single food product. By law companies are required to give us the fat content, serving size, amount of daily vitamin requirements, etc. for each product, and the more I read the more imposing it all feels. Why exactly does it have this effect on me? Well, I’m going to get into that and then tell me if it feels the same way to you.
Too Much Information
The first thing I always see when looking at the nutrition facts on a food box is the inside of my eyelids and I’m quickly so bored with the glut of info that I can hardly pay attention. There’s just so much and so little of it is in an easily understandable form. Most of the time I just look at the amount of calories and the calories from fat on the label, and if they both seem relatively low, I’ll just go ahead and toss the thing into my cart. With all of the things on the side, there’s just too much to wade through to find any understanding of how it’s relevant to me and my needs. Which by the way makes me frustrated that while it says so much…
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Not Enough Information
How is it that something that takes the time to list out the amount of vitamin C and iron and potassium and ingredients and fat content and blah blah blah somehow misses the point in the first place: Most people who look at food labels don’t know what they’re looking at and why it means anything to them. Yes, there are certainly a number of intelligent and informed individuals that know why they should eat this food over that based on the amount of zinc per serving in whichever food, but when I stumble in, jaw slacken and feet shuffling, hungry and stupid and ready to eat, when I look at the side of a cereal box or something and just see plain vanilla facts tossed at me (especially if I’m looking at the food label for plain vanilla ice cream), then my only response is to ask, “Okay, but what does it mean that this has 6% iron in it?” There’s no context for anything if you haven’t studied the system, so why would I bother with it anyway? Even if I did understand what’s going on, there are still further problems, like…