bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Nutella, no longer part of a nutritious breakfast

Even though I never blogged about it at the time, my annoyance with Nutella and its marketing were the catalyst for this blog I did write a post about it later. I received an insert in a magazine featuring a dietitian extolling the virtues of Nutella as part of a healthy breakfast in conjunction with Breakfast for Learning programs. It seemed unethical to me that a dietitian would be promoting such a nutritionally bereft food as part of a child’s breakfast. People have been fooled into thinking that this food (which, while admittedly delicious) is healthy when it essentially turns a piece of toast into a chocolate bar.

My favourite disturbing Nutella story was told to me by one of my best friends. She was standing in line at the grocery store and the woman in front of her was buying a jar of Nutella. This Nutella purchaser and the cashier started discussing how yummy and healthy Nutella is. My friend couldn’t stand idly by and was compelled to interject that Nutella is delicious but it is not actually a healthy food choice and that it’s full of sugar. The women looked at the label and saw that sugar was the first ingredient. This is both a lesson in our susceptibility to marketing and the importance of label reading.

Last week parents won a class action lawsuit against Nutella. Usually I think that these sorts of lawsuits are a little ridiculous but in this case I think that it sets a great precedent. This win sends a message to the food industry that it is not okay to make false claims about the food you’re selling. It’s not saying that Nutella should be banned, it’s just saying that Nutella should stop pretending to be a health food when it’s really a treat.


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Smarties sandwiches, part of a balanced lunch

I received a link to this article in my twitter feed today from @yonifreedhoff. It’s about a child being sent to school with a Smarties sandwich for lunch prompting a free school nutrition program. I think lunch programs are great and whatever it takes to initiate one is fine by me. I just think it’s a little sad, and absurd, that a Smarties sandwich was the impetus. For decades now children have been sent to school with utter crap for lunches. Now, I was one of the lucky ones who got to go home for lunch every day, up until high school, and have a balanced lunch courtesy of my mum waiting for me on the table. Other kids were not so lucky (although at the time I was pretty envious). Lunchables? Very little in the way of nutrient content there apart from calories and sodium. How about sandwiches made with cheesewhiz? Or grape jelly? Or “Fluff”? Or… NUTELLA? How many kids did you know growing-up that had “chocolate” sandwiches at lunch? I bet, if you weren’t one of them, that you at least knew one. And really, what’s the difference between a sandwich made with Nutella and a sandwich made with Smarties? I’d say candy coating is pretty much the sole distinguishing feature. We need to be taking a closer look at the marketing of foods and what’s really in them. Just because Smarties are marketed as a candy treat and Nutella is marketed as “part of a balanced breakfast” doesn’t mean that they’re all that different.