Laura on Life

Nutrition fallacies

By Laura Snyder

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[February 28, 2009]  I was reading the "Nutrition Facts" on the side of my cereal box this morning. It was very informative about just what, exactly, was going into my body at that moment. I tried to ignore the fact that the calorie count was based on a half-cup serving and I was eating out of a mixing bowl. I mean, they don't actually think I'm going to be able to measure anything at oh-my-gosh-o'clock in the morning, do they? I can't even read the clock yet ... or find a decent-sized bowl.

RestaurantI was only deciphering the Nutrition Facts because I needed the cereal box in front of me to discourage my children from carrying on inane conversations with me before my senses had become functional. If not for the cereal box, my son would have interpreted an all-clear for conversations that included black holes, naked moles, rats, time warp continuums and other stimulating topics that were undesirable at a time when I, most emphatically, did not want to be stimulated.

So it was that I was able to make out the gibberish on the cereal box and concluded that I would probably need to take a multivitamin because this cereal only had, at the most, 35 percent of the recommended daily value of any particular vitamin. Can't they invent a cereal that has 100 percent of the recommended values of everything so that I wouldn't have to think about it the rest of the day? Since the recommended daily value was not met with breakfast, what are the chances that I'd cover all my nutritional values before I went to sleep tonight?


I'd probably find myself ransacking my cupboards at midnight trying to find a food that contained the other 80 percent of the folic acid I needed to fulfill my daily nutritional requirements.

"Honey, what has a lot of folic acid in it?"

"I don't know. Laundry detergent? Go back to sleep!"

What if I don't get that 80 percent that I was lacking? Would that mean that I am not as healthy as I could be? I would go to bed worrying, "Oh, if only I had eaten enough folic acid."

I want to be healthy -- as healthy as I can be. Where is the menu that was made up by the guys who made up the impossible rules for daily requirements? You know -- that menu that actually gives you 100 percent of the recommended daily values without going over the limit for fat, cholesterol and sodium. Where is that?

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What? You mean they never wrote one? They just wrote the rules and we are supposed to figure out how to obey them? What rot!

I thought I had a daily menu worked out using the food pyramid (which apparently isn't a pyramid anymore), the recommended daily values and foods that I would actually eat.

Unfortunately, it had too much asparagus, which makes your urine stink, and not enough chocolate. Also, because I needed more protein and didn't have room for more fat, I had to substitute my husband's leather work boots for a pork chop for the dinner course. That could get expensive. Alas, since it took me three weeks to figure out one day's menu, I would have to eat the same thing every day of my life. My husband doesn't have that many pairs of work boots.

I think those guys who make up the rules for daily nutritional requirements are a bunch of quacks anyway. My reasoning is simple: There is no daily requirement for chocolate. What kind of messed-up rule is that? Yes, we need our vitamins and minerals. Yes, we need fiber, even if it makes us backfire like a Model T. But I, for one, cannot function without chocolate!

Just once, I'd like to pick up a 3 Musketeers bar and know that yes, I am getting 100 percent of my daily requirement of chocolate. But instead, I embark on a major guilt trip even though my 3 Musketeers is within the daily requirements for fat, cholesterol and sodium ... provided that I don't eat anything else all day. Fair enough! I could do that!



You can reach the writer at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.

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