Good Changes From the FDA


Having spent the last couple of weeks reading food labels more than anything else, I can tell you that these changes are very welcome indeed:

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time in two decades will propose major changes to nutrition labels on food packages, putting calorie counts in large type and adjusting portion sizes to reflect how much Americans actually eat.

It would be the first significant redrawing of the nutrition information on food labels since the federal government started requiring them in the early 1990s. Those labels were based on eating habits and nutrition data from the 1970s and ’80s, before portion sizes expanded significantly, and federal health officials argued that the changes were needed to bring labels into step with the reality of the modern American diet.

“It’s an amazing transformation,” said Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the F.D.A. “Things like the size of a muffin have changed so dramatically. It is important that the information on the nutrition fact labels reflect the realities in the world today.”

The proposed changes include what experts say will be a particularly controversial item: a separate line for sugars that are manufactured and added to food, substances that many public health experts say have contributed substantially to the obesity problem in this country. The food industry has argued against similar suggestions in the past.

“The changes put added sugars clearly in the cross hairs,” said Dr. David A. Kessler, who was commissioner during the original push for labels in the 1990s. “America has the sweetest diet in the world. You can’t get to be as big as we’ve gotten without added sweeteners.” Millions of Americans pay attention to food labels, and the changes are meant to make them easier to understand — a critical step in an era when more than one-third of adults are obese, public health experts say. The epidemic has caused rates of diabetes to soar, and has increased risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

I wish they would just make the damned labels BIGGER. Or, I could finally break down and go to the eye doctor and get bifocals instead of holding things up to the light and maneuvering my glasses and squinting. What I really wish they would do is give every product a qr code that would take you to detailed lists of the product, the ingredients and what they are- who the hell knows what acesulfame potassium is…

93 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    Probably my favorite misleading label of all time was on a fat-free packaged muffin. Serving Size: 4.

    Who the hell eats 1/4th of a muffin at a time?

  2. 2
    aimai says:

    Very good idea–wonder if someone will come up with an App that simplifies things for you–scanning and highlighting the ingredients you personally select as forbidden or necessary? Weight Watchers has an app that lets you input certain common foods/portion sizes and tells you how to figure out the calorie count wW style. They are going to have to spend a fortune revamping that, but its quite handy.

  3. 3
    Belafon says:

    The bag of Oreos should list the calorie count for the entire container. Who just eats a serving?

  4. 4
    Disco says:

    Love this:

    “The epidemic has caused rates of diabetes to soar, and has increased risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.”

    …very next sentence…

    The proposal will be open to public comment for 90 days, and it will take months before any change is made final. In a special concession to industry, the agency is allowing companies two years to put the changes into effect.”

  5. 5
    jl says:

    Thanks to Cole for heads up on the new labels, I was curious about them.

    But, the link is bad.

    I’d like to read the linked article to see whether they tested the new label. A big hurdle is getting people to read the label at all. Many do not even for Rx meds.

    ” wish they would just make the damned labels BIGGER. ”

    I think for the audience most in need of labels, you would need one about the same size as the package It would say “After you rip through this sucker, you’ll scarf down 2240 calories, and you will have more than a half pound of extra fat to carry around”

    I heard a radio report of a study on activity levels of obese people, many of whom get in about an hour a day of mild to moderate activity. Basically sounds like all the exercise they get is getting into and out of various chairs and couches. That is a problem too.

  6. 6
    Mnemosyne says:


    Actually, the current app lets you scan the barcode at the grocery store with your smartphone and get the Points Plus (assuming the manufacturer provided that information to WW, of course). It’s really handy when it works, and if it doesn’t, the app takes you straight to the calculator.

    Also, the calculation was revamped about three years ago: now it’s four variables (carbs, protein, fat and fiber) instead of the old calories/fat/fiber calculation.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    jl says:

    @Disco: The link worked for you, or you have another one? I get ‘page not found’ at NYT site.

  9. 9
    jl says:

    @Disco: thanks.

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:


    I heard a radio report of a study on activity levels of obese people, many of whom get in about an hour a day of mild to moderate exercise. That is a problem too.

    As far as I can tell from current research, one of the reasons people have so much trouble keeping weight off after losing it is that the requirements change. To lose weight, you need to closely monitor your food intake, but to maintain the new (lower) weight, activity is much more important. You can’t maintain a weight loss just with lower caloric intake, and it can take up to 90 minutes of exercise a day to maintain a large weight loss.

    IOW, you need calorie restriction to lose, but exercise to maintain, and a lot of people have a hard time switching gears to the necessary extent.

  11. 11
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    who the hell knows what acesulfame potassium is…

    That’s penis softener.

  12. 12
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Seems like I need vigorous exercise at least 45 minutes a day (like serious interval training outside or in gym) or I gain weight. I have very hard time maintaining a reasonable weight just by reducing intake.

  13. 13
    Just Some Fuckhead says:


    The bag of Oreos should list the calorie count for the entire container. Who just eats a serving?

    I thought the bag was the serving.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne: Plus age and lifestyle (location).

  15. 15
    KG says:

    @Belafon: not a bad idea to include calorie count for a serving and for the entire package.

    @Mnemosyne: I feel this way about pints of Hageen Daz and Ben & Jerry’s.

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:


    That’s what all of the current research says — you can lose by restricting calories, but you can’t maintain that way. So your perception seems to line up with reality.

  17. 17
    boatboy_srq says:

    Welcome changes.

    And anyone who thinks periodically reviewing these labels is pointless and/or that business would NEVAH try to undermine public understanding of their wholesome products has never read “desiccated cane juice” amongst a list of ingredients.

  18. 18
    KG says:

    @aimai: check out the LoseIt app. I’ve used it in the past when I’ve tried to monitor my calorie and macronutrient intake. Has a lot of chain restaurants in the database if you eat out, plus you can scan barcodes on the stuff you buy or create your own meals as well. My problem is I always end up getting lazy about inputting food and/or exercise after a couple of days.

  19. 19
    MomSense says:

    John, I thought of you last night while cooking cauliflower! Just cut it up and sauteed it in a pan with some EVOO, red onion, S&P. Yummy! If anyone is looking for an olive oil recommendation I like California Olive Ranch.

    Last night I also reserved my share at the local CSA. I will still buy certain things from the farmers’ market and grocery store but I am impressed by the quality and quantity of food. We also get to pick one morning per week which is fun especially since I don’t have the space for a big garden at my house.

  20. 20
    KG says:

    @Mnemosyne: our bodies have an amazing capacity to adapt to different conditions, and the default is always to try and store excess energy (i.e. fat) in case there’s a famine. So, even if your goal is to maintain, you have to vary your diet and exercise routine.

  21. 21
    someofparts says:

    Oh I know what you mean about the print size. Trying to figure out how to get a new IPod to work I needed reading glasses for the tiny tiny print on the notes that came with it, a different pair to see the weather update on the television and then no glasses to read the computer monitor.

    Also, regarding sugars, I recently read (sorry, did not save any links to the story), that artificial sweeteners play havoc with our insulin levels because our taste buds and stomachs get different signals. Taste buds say sugar is on the way. Stomach says, nope, no sugar delivered. Insulin levels say, well, here we are, but there’s no sugar to process, so we’re just gonna hang out, or maybe even escalate, and wind up going some place we don’t belong.

  22. 22
    Amir Khalid says:

    Mine was on a box of granola, imported from the US. “Sugar” wasn’t on the list of ingredients, but “dehydrated crystallized cane juice” was.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Here in the US, it’s usually disguised as “evaporated cane juice.” Maybe people caught on to the “evaporated” part and they started using “dehydrated” or “desiccated” instead?

  24. 24
    jl says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    ” I thought the bag was the serving. ”

    Research I’ve read suggests that the container is usually the serving for smaller sized snack product packages. Not true when the container is large enough that eating the whole thing would make you sick, but then the size of the container determines the size of the serving. Bigger the container, the bigger the amount eaten at one time.

    So, that is the source of my suggestion above, label taking up almost all of the package informing the buyer how much they will pack down after the rip through the whole thing.

  25. 25
    Epicurus says:

    Cue the wingnut cries of “tyranny” and “dictatorship.” I’m only surprised that it has not started yet, but then I don’t ruin my beautiful mind combing through the detritus at Redstate or NRO online. I’ll let our posters here do the dirty work, so I can cut right to sharing my opinions with the world. Works for me! And John, regarding strangely-named substances masking as food; let me Google that for you.

  26. 26
    Sierra Nevada says:

    Get an app that scans barcodes and logs nutrition info for you. If you want to track and control basics like calories or sodium intake, or easily view your current mix of carbs/fats/protiens, apps like that are the bomb.

    I see someone above recommended an app. I use myfitnesspal. It is an awesome app. Probably gives all my data to MZ, but wth.

  27. 27
    aimai says:

    @MomSense: We roast cauliflower in the oven all the time: pepper, salt, olive oil, high heat or mixed indian spices at the last minute (so they don’t burn).

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:

    If the consumer isn’t aware that most sugar is made from cane juice, I guess either would work. The key is to avoid using the s-word, I reckon, and hope to escape notice.

  29. 29
    Anoniminous says:

    Acesulfame potassium is a calorie free sugar substitute.

    We avoid all artificial sweeteners, a “religious opinion” cheerfully free of supporting evidence. Not enough scientific studies have been done to determine its short and long term effects, if any.

  30. 30
    jl says:

    @jl: Lest I be accused of being a snotty supercilious commie coast lib sneering at fatties, I am naturally a fatty if left to my own devices.

    The only way I have found to beat it is to exercise vigorously everyday, cook my own food so that I am not tempted by fattening goodies. And when I do buy them, I always buy in smallest container, since I will not have the will power to go through a large package as slowly as I think I will at the time of purchase.

    So, for myself, I only buy those little dinky ice cream cup things, with the wooden spoonlet attached someplace on the damn thing.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:


    I flat-out don’t like the way they taste (it doesn’t help that I seem to be somewhere between a medium taster and a super taster, so I may be more sensitive than other people) so I’ve decided that real sugar in moderation is far better for me anyway.

    I also avoid HFCS when I can but, again, I can taste the difference between it and cane sugar. It has a weird acidic aftertaste that really bugs me.

  32. 32
    raven says:

    Mika was doing her normal bitching and moaning on this on the show today. I guess it’s good that she pushes it but it makes me want to eat a big bag of Dorito’s!

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Mine was on a box of granola, imported from the US. “Sugar” wasn’t on the list of ingredients, but “dehydrated crystallized cane juice” was.

    Was it marketed as a “health food”?

    Refined sugar is more unhealthy than unrefined, which latter may be what your ingredient was. Refining can involve the use of calcium hydroxide, sulphur dioxide, phosphoric acid, etc. — and can remove things your body might need (manganese, magnesium, Vitamin C, etc.). Refined (as opposed to unrefined) sugar is especially bad for diabetics.

  34. 34
    Anoniminous says:

    Food companies add all this crap because they have to. If additional sugars, additional fats (including oils,) and “flavor enhancer,” e.g., MSG, were eliminated from packaged foods the product would taste like cardboard and nobody would buy them.

  35. 35
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Sweeteners is one area where I am slightly above the level of a pure boor. I can taste the difference between sweeteners very easily.

    I have been in ‘healthier eating mode’, mostly cooked myself for so long, I find most sweetened beverages disgusting now (way too sweet). The ones sweetened with sugar taste weird and heavy. The artificially sweetened ones taste like a chemical stew.

    There is a place where I can get soda pop sweetened with stevia, and on the rare times I drink it, that is the only thing I enjoy any more.

  36. 36
    Amir Khalid says:

    If it was unrefined sugar, rather than refined, the (American) manufacturer could have called it that on the ingredient list. Either way, one has to wonder why they were trying to sneak some form of sugar past the consumer.

  37. 37
    jl says:


    ” nobody would buy them.”

    I have moved towards that approach.

  38. 38
    Cervantes says:

    @Amir Khalid: Didn’t fool you, though, did they?

  39. 39
    Cermet says:

    @Mnemosyne: And that IS the real reason so many do fail – even if you tend to do it, illness (at times), life issues all tend to make that time expendable leading to missing more and more workouts and then the weight slowly but surely climbs. Human evolution sucks – we are too efficient and too ready to rest!

    Worse, like trans fat, turns out high fructose corn sugars readily cause’ small, low density cholesterol to be created in the liver which then leads to the ready growth of plaque. Even statins will not help very much if most of your now lowered levels are composed of that type of cholesterol … . Out of the frying pan into the fire … .

  40. 40
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Watch industry go ape over that portion size thing, desperately trying to redefine it or fight the FDA in the public sphere. Of course, some portions of the industry are already selling preportioned 100cal bags so it’s not like they can’t make money either way.

    OT: good news everyone: that horrid benghazi-inciting anti-Muhammed film just got served a TAKEDOWN notice by a judge:

    However, it looks to me like they could take about 5 minutes out due to this innocent actress’ copyright claim and then put that shit right back up. Unfortunately. Maybe the rest of the duped actors need to sue as well!

  41. 41
    MomSense says:


    I do that, too and add a bit of cilantro before serving! I also roast brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, thinly sliced leeks and shallots. I used to add bacon–but had to give it up! If you use bacon, cook a couple strips partially and then chop up the bacon and toss with the brussels. Add a bit of balsamic to the bacon grease and drizzle that over the brussels before roasting. I do add just a touch of balsamic to the olive oil now without the bacon grease..

  42. 42
    p.a. says:

    Goddamnit, I always check the calories/calories from fat when label snooping. Decent shorthand way to avoid the worst stuff (look for cff<30% total c).

  43. 43
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    Counting calories is a complete waste of time and you won’t lose weight doing it. It’s all in the carbs you consume. Gary Taubes has written extensively on this.

  44. 44
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Amir Khalid: What do they have against beets?

    Cane: environmental (wetlands habitat) destruction
    Beets: cut wages in face of record profits because we can
    Corn: monoculture agriculture environmental impacts

    Squashes and beans are plenty sweet on their own, almost cloying. Berry pickers in my area are paid well, but that’s contingent on the federal government enforcing laws against slavery.

  45. 45
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine: Uh… The oughts are calling, they want their debunked memes back.

  46. 46
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @p.a.: fat doesn’t make you fat. Carbs do. Rule of thumb: look at the label if carb load is more than 8 grams after netting out the fiber then don’t eat it.

    Eliminate pasta, rice, most bread, beer (I know I know), potatoes, crackers, chips etc. and you will lose weight. I lost 35 in six months and saw across the board improvement in blood chemistry.

    Eat protein, fat, veggies, fruit and nuts. Dairy is okay too. After two weeks you won’t even miss the carbs and if you do eat some you feel almost immediately

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine:

    If you’re carb-sensitive (usually also insulin-resistant), sure. If not, not so much.

    Strange as this will sound, not all humans are alike, so a single solution will not work for everyone.

    A little anecdote: my co-worker is doing the “Primal Diet” and driving me more than a little crazy. Yesterday, one of the big guys that she listens to said he was going to reveal the one exercise that everyone needs to be doing, the one perfect thing that will work for everyone.

    That one perfect exercise that works for everyone? The one you will do consistently. Because no two humans are alike, even identical twins.

  48. 48
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @Another Holocene Human: bullshit

  49. 49
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Which debunked memes are you referring to? The ones where it’s all about calories, or the ones where it’s all about carbs?

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine:

    Eliminate pasta, rice, most bread, beer (I know I know), potatoes, crackers, chips etc. and you will lose weight.

    Didn’t work for me. Not only did I not lose weight, I went into a depression that persisted for 6 weeks until I went back to eating carbs.

    So now what?

    ETA: Wait, let me guess — it must not have worked because I was doing it wrong. Because a diet that worked for you must also work for everyone.

  51. 51
    WereBear says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine: Works for me. I read Good Calories, Bad Calories twice! Once for info, once for pleasure.

    It’s the kind of geek I am.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think the debunked meme is that it’s about one thing, whether that one thing is calories, or fat, or carbs, or protein. It’s about all of them, and part of the trick is finding out what combination works best for you.

  53. 53
    Anoniminous says:


    I don’t have your taste buds (drat it) so I have to decipher read the label.

    Sugar. It goes back to evolution. There were few soda machines on the African plains 1,000,000 years ago. Sugars were scarce. But they are a high energy source so our bodies developed to gorge as much as possible when a source, such as fruit, was found. Now sugars are ubiquitous but our bodies haven’t caught up.

    In general, meaning may not apply to a specific individual, real sugar is better and the less refined the sugar the better it is. And that’s really hard. Take brown sugar. Most brown sugars have been processed all the way to white sugar and had some molasses added back in. The only company I know purveying “real” brown sugar is Billington’s — which is hard to find. When found price will gag a goat. To compensate we use 1/4 to 1/2 of the recipe amount. Need to experiment to taste as there is a pronounced molasses flavor. Going down the scale, turbinado sugar and then demerara sugar have decreasing amounts of molasses, thus approaching white sugar. We do have white sugar in house used for some baked goods when we are feeling degenerate; to compensate we again lower the ‘called for’ amount of sugar and amp up the chocolate and spices. This gives satisfaction and flavor with all the sweet.

    To avoid metabolic ‘sugar shock’ the best added sweetener is maltose as it takes longer and more energy to digest. Some people are intolerant so beware.

  54. 54
    Rob in CT says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    Well, I’ve had a lot of success so far with carb reduction. Since mid-2013 I’m down 22 pounds, which is a lot for my size. I’ve read articles summarizing the research on keeping weight off (reaction: horror), so I understand that just ’cause I’ve lost weight doesn’t mean I’m in the clear. I have to keep at it. I’m actually aiming to lose ~13 more pounds, for a total of 35. I have kicked up my excercise level, but only modestly. The vast majority of my progress has been cutting down on carbs and paying some attention to portion control. So, basically, both carb and calorie reduction. I’m not sweating the fats, but we’ll see what my cholesterol numbers look like next time I have a physical.

  55. 55
    Platosearwax says:

    These labels are certainly better, but my experience living in Europe for the past 15 years make me feel like it is still stupid confusing. I mean, did I eat an 8th of the product or 2/8 of it? If I eat 2/3 of it I have to do a bunch of math to figure out what I ate. If you all would finally get on the metric bandwagon you could get labels broken down by 100 grams, which is dead simple to calculate.

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Who eats just one bag?

  57. 57
    Rob in CT says:


    This strikes me as absolutely right. Going low(er) carb has worked for me, but might not do squat for someone else. And I’m not exactly doin’ Atkins here. I haven’t cut my booze consumption at all. If I did that and manage to not replace the calories/carbs, I’d probably lose the rest of the weight I want to lose right quick. But that would suck, and there’s no way I’d stick with that.

  58. 58
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @Mnemosyne: no idea if you are doing it right. It works for most people. If you are older your insulin response may be worn out or damaged particularly if are obese. Harder to get results.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think maltose is one of the ones that gives me unpleasant digestive symptoms (I know sugar alcohols do, so I have to be careful with sugarless gum, of all things). So I go with moderation.

    @Rob in CT:

    Generally speaking, high-protein/low-carb diets work really well for men, but not as well for women, probably because of the gender difference in body composition and muscle mass.

  60. 60
    Rob in CT says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t find the new label to be much better? I mean, it’s a little better, sure. But nothing to write home about…

  61. 61
    Anoniminous says:


    We only buy them in exceptional circumstances.

    The thing is: a modicum of effort will provide a better diet, a better tasting diet, spending less money on food, and vastly less money down the road on medical bills.

  62. 62
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @Rob in CT: my prediction is you will see improvement in blood chemistry for the reasons cited in the comment above yours. I lost the 35 and was actually doing less exercise than before I kicked the carbs.

    Carbs are okay right before, during or right after a workout. Avoid after 4pm if possible.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine:

    It works for most people men.

    Fix’d. It works for some women, as WereBear will tell you, but most women do not lose nearly as much weight on low-carb/high-protein diets as most men do.

    One size does not fit all. Men and women have different body compositions, and individuals have different body chemistries. What worked for you may not work for me, because we are different genders, different heights, different ethnic backgrounds, etc.

  64. 64
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @WereBear: I read why we get fat by him. Very enlightening. The part about how conventional nutritional wisdom treats obesity as a mental health problem (you’re lazy, you have no will power, you have no self control etc) rather than a regulatory problem in your body was eye-opening.

    You can’t just be told to cut carbs and successfully do it. You have to understand the physiology of what they do when you consume.

    I have drunk the kool aid. The sugar free kind of course!

  65. 65
    Rob in CT says:


    Makes sense. The other thing that makes sense is that carbs are – for me – the thing I’m likely to eat too much of without even thinking about it. Example: Triscuits… rosemary triscuits in particular. Those are SO GOOD. It took me some time to break myself of the habit of grabbing the box, sitting on the couch and, well, you know the rest. But the real enemy was bagels. I was eating 6 bagels a week (breakfast 6 days a week). Now I eat none, having managed to find replacement options that work for me. I don’t miss the bagels, which is huge.

    The diet/excercise routine that works is the one you can manage to do and maintain. So far, so good. As for the research about it being *really* hard to keep the weight off, you know what? I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears and say lalalalalala I’m different. Because if I don’t it’s just depressing. I have to think I can manage it. Given that my weight loss has been slow (~2-3lbs/month) and I haven’t made massive lifestyle changes that will be hard to continue, I think I can pull it off. I have to think I can.

  66. 66
    Rob in CT says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine:

    If I didn’t like beer & wine, I’d lose another 15 lbs without even trying.

    But as a stupid man once said, No TV and No Beer Make Homer Go Something Something.

    A man must service some of his vices, lest he go mad and eat a box of triscuits followed by cadberry mini eggs…

  67. 67
    Rob in CT says:

    Or, as a local brewpub’s T-shirts say: I’m saving my carbs for beer.

  68. 68
    Anoniminous says:


    Some people cannot digest maltose. Just their genetic make up.

    An easy test case is barley: if you like the taste (the early warning system for foods) and can digest it move onto maltose. If not then don’t.

    (Sometimes this stuff gets real easy. :-)

    In moderation – definition depends on the individual – there’s nothing inherently evil about cane sugar. (Corn syrup is another topic! ) The problem is the average American consumes about 156lbs of the stuff a year. And that is beyond any rational definition of “moderate.” Children have been known to eat their body weight in sugar per year (and we wonder why ADD is rising and school kids are bouncing off the classroom walls.)

  69. 69
    GRANDPA john says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine:I am a type 2 diabetic using an insulin pump.
    counting carbs not calories is an absolute for using the pump, Therefore the reading of labels is essential for people using the pump. .This change in portion size is a much needed change because for many products out there, the portion size is laughable things like a frozen pizza with a serving size 1/3 of the pizza. Who the hell cuts a pizza into thirds? most fruits and vegetables serving size is 1/2 cup so the common size can for vegies and fruits contains 3 1/2 servings , preposterous


  70. 70
    TooManyJens says:

    @GRANDPA john: The one that gets me is that a bag of microwave popcorn is 2.5 servings. How is that of any use?

  71. 71
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    @Rob in CT: beer was tough and have the occasional one now and then. Doesn’t help that several really good microbrews have opened their doors here in houston in the past two years!

  72. 72
    MomSense says:


    My body chemistry must be all sorts of messed up because I am thin, exercise regularly, eat well, drink my glass of red wine a day — and have really high cholesterol! It stinks. Now I am a mostly veggie except for seafood occasionally. The cholesterol is still high. My “good” cholesterol is also really high but still they keep talking medication. I’m at the point where I think I will have to see a specialist because the nutritionist and doctor are stumped. I also don’t eat sugar, white flour or dairy except my shot of half n half with my coffee.

  73. 73
    catclub says:

    @Anoniminous: “spending less money on food”

    I am not sure about that part. Since USians spend about the smallest fraction of their incomes on food of most developed nations, any change to improve quality is likely to increase costs.

  74. 74
    Anoniminous says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Triscuits taste good because they have Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanyalate as flavor enhancers. (Think MSG.)

    And they do taste good (damn their eyes.) I love ’em. I also don’t buy ’em because if I do I’ll eat the box in about 3 days. I haven’t found a good recipe to make them at home. (sob) So I had to go cold turkey.

  75. 75
    NotMax says:

    You are what you eat is not just an empty platitude.

    Kind of amazing how many are still unaware that ingredients are required to be listed in order of predominance by weight.

    As for additives, in some cases an explanatory listing is also required.

    What ingredient listing is necessary for chemical preservatives?

    Answer: When an approved chemical preservative is added to a food, the ingredient list must include both the common or usual name of the preservative and the function of the preservative by including terms, such as “preservative,” “to retard spoilage,” “a mold inhibitor,” “to help protect flavor,” or “to promote color retention.” Source

    Lots of basic info on food labels and labeling requirements at that site.

  76. 76
    WereBear says:

    @MomSense: You can also simply not worry about cholesterol… despite all we’ve been told, it’s not as simple as a number, and most of those numbers are meaningless.

    The original research was deeply flawed, and everything else is iffy.

    Also, statins have no beneficial effect on women. NONE. And the side effects can be really nasty… and possibly, not stopping when you stop taking the drug.

  77. 77
    jl says:


    ” You are what you eat is not just an empty platitude. ”

    I’ve read studies that say that one third of USian people’s carbon atoms are from corn and corn by-products.

    Better living through chemistry!

  78. 78
    Starfish says:

    Fooducate creates apps to help people chose foods. I tried the allergies version of the app.

    Australia is trying for a simplified food labeling system.

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    NotMax says:


    That there moonshine may not be nutritious, but it sure as shootin’ builds up them carbon doo-hickeys.

  80. 80
    Mnemosyne says:


    (and we wonder why ADD is rising and school kids are bouncing off the classroom walls.)

    Actually, the ADHD/sugar link has been shown to be false — sugar consumption doesn’t affect ADHD symptoms one way or the other.

    IMO, the reason ADHD is rising is because recess and phys ed programs have been drastically cut in favor of “teaching to the test,” so borderline kids who would normally be able to “play it out” and focus after exercise aren’t getting what they need. But that would actually point to something that schools need to do instead of something parents are doing wrong, so it doesn’t get a lot of attention outside of the ADHD community.

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  82. 82
    Anoniminous says:


    We roast our own coffee: saving $15/lb

    We only buy meats direct or on sale: saving $1 to $5/lb

    We buy beans, lentils, rice, and grains in bulk: saving (around) $1 to $4/lb

    We bake our own bread: saving $6/loaf. We also bake our own crackers saving who the heck knows how much, at least $2 a box (bet that’s low.)

    We only have 1/4lb of meat protein at each meal when we eat it directly. Usually we make meat soups, stews, curries, etc. dropping the meat-per-meal to (about) 1/8 pound.

    We brew our own craft beer (our cost ~$1/bottle, saving … I don’t know, haven’t bought beer in 30 years … a lot?) and, rarely as a treat, our own sodas. Tried to make wine, the results were unfortunate. (Read: undrinkable)

    We buy teas, spices, herbs, salt, pepper, etc. in bulk saving ten cents to over two bucks per ounce.

    On a dollar-out basis we probably spend a little less for food than the “average” buying the run-of-the-mill American Processed Imitation Food yuck. When doing a quality comparable we spend half of what it would cost from a store. Plus there is the extra money in our pocket from not paying medical bills for diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, & so on.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:


    If you’re not doing it already, try eating oatmeal every morning. Yes, you’ll get a little tired of it, but it really does help lower “bad” cholesterol. It lowered G’s enough that his doctor stopped grumbling about statins despite his high level of “good” cholesterol.

    You can make Irish (steel-cut) oatmeal in the crockpot — yum!

  84. 84
    Anoniminous says:


    You are right. I should have footnoted that as my controversial opinion.

    I’m aware of the research. I don’t buy it. Mostly because a test population of 107 children as an adequate sample for ~71 million population is statistical nonsense. Second because sugar intake is known to increase metabolic activity and it I cannot see how increased metabolic activity, especially considering the intake-to-weight ratio will not end-up affecting behavior.

    Can I prove that? No.

    Complicating the situation is, as you say, is lowering the time children are allowed to run around and play.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:


    NIMH says it’s confirmation bias — not only do they have multiple studies showing that there’s no correlation, they did a double-blind study where they told mothers than they were giving their ADHD kids sugary snacks, but half of the kids got sugar-free snacks. Nonetheless, most of the mothers whose kids got the sugar-free snacks reported that the “sugar” made their kids hyper.

    Now, what is true is that an unbalanced diet can make ADHD symptoms worse. If your kid is eating nothing but junk food and not getting enough protein or omega-3’s, that probably will exacerbate his/her symptoms, but it’s not the sugar (or, at least, not the sugar by itself).

    Second because sugar intake is known to increase metabolic activity and it I cannot see how increased metabolic activity, especially considering the intake-to-weight ratio will not end-up affecting behavior.

    It’s partly because the ADHD brain doesn’t react to stimulants the way an average brain does. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have ADHD. ;-) I can take two tablets of Excedrin right before bed — that’s 500mg of caffeine — and sleep like a baby. That’s because my brain reacts differently to stimulants than other people’s. They give me speed (Concerta and Ritalin) and it calms me down, whereas it would make a normal person “hyper.”

    ADHD brain chemistry is different, so we react differently to that increased metabolic activity. Ironically, normal kids probably do get “hyped up” by sugar, but ADHD kids don’t.

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    MomSense says:


    I do have steel cut oats in the morning with a little maple syrup (the good stuff from my friend’s farm) and fruits.

    Really everyone is mystified by my cholesterol. I hope you are right and the studies are flawed because I am seriously hoping that they will discover cholesterol prevents cancer and Alzheimer’s!

    My Mom took statins briefly for high cholesterol and she experienced some really bad side effects. Thy didn’t stop when she discontinued use.

    My grandma lived to be 96 with high cholesterol so I’m going to be really cautious about doing anything but changing diet.

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:


    You’re probably already eating the other foods high in soluble fiber but, just in case, here’s an article.

    One other thing I’ve heard is that your thyroid levels can affect cholesterol, so you may want to ask for a full panel thyroid test (not just the standard one) and see if something is going wonky there and this is an early warning sign.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:


    Hypothyroid and cholesterol — short version, if your doctor hasn’t tested your thyroid, he should have.

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    Bill Murray says:

    @Anoniminous: You’re only really saving if you don’t count the time you put into these efforts as having value.

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bill Murray:

    It’s probably like any hobby — you’re willing to put in the time cost as part of the enjoyment. I could spend $10 and five minutes picking up a 10-pack of socks at Target, but sometimes I like to put in the time and knit a pair even though it’s actually more expensive in both materials and time.

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    WaterGirl says:

    @MomSense: Actually, I was just reading in the grain brain book yesterday that the folks with higher cholesterol were much less likely to get altzheimers.

  92. 92
    MomSense says:


    Thank you! I’m going to ask the doctor to order thyroid tests.



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    HeartlandLiberal says:

    What continues to astound me is the size of portions served in restaurants. We always make it a point to tell our server when we order that he or she should anticipate we will be needing take home container for at least half or sometimes more of what we are about to order. No wonder Americans are morbidly obese. They consume far more calories every day than needed. The number of people engaging in exercise continues to drop. And the average diet consists of sugar and refined carbs in the form of chips for the most part. Have you walked down the chip and soda / pop / coke aisle of your grocery story lately? When you have aisles of food and one of them, 5% is devoted to chips and soda, that might be perceived as a statistically important fact.

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