Not So Pretty in Pink

This Kellogg’s Special K Protein shake was gifted to me from the heart of a loving woman.


In my last post, I expressed a little attitude (my opinion) toward  food manufacturers and their attractive but deceptive advertising practices.

When I wrote the post, this shake is the type of food I had in mind.  This package is dolled up like it’s a birthday gift or something.  Lol!!  There is no doubt in my mind that the target market is women whose goal is to lose weight and/or maintain a healthier lifestyle.

The pink is overkill and offensive to me.  I could take this post to another level and compare the packing of a similar project to our male counterparts, but I won’t. Sigh!

With so much talk about “protein” in the fitness world, no wonder it is the focus of this product.

Come on ladies!!  Get your protein!  The woman who purchased this for me is aware of my fitness passion.  While her intentions were good; there is no way, I would drink this crap.

Of course Kellogg’s want you to believe that the protein in this beverage is going to “satisfy your hunger.” Yeah okay, right! Wink..wink.  How the heck is a 10 ounce bottle of this stuff gonna satisfy my hunger before or after a workout?

While plant and animal based proteins are the most satisfying, I am certain that this 10 ounce beverage is not going to do it for you…  That’s just my opinion.

Look at the label. 18 grams of sugar!!  Whoa!

Sugar is the devil and is linked to so many preventable illnesses.  Make sure you read Kristen Kirkpatrick‘s article, 1o Things You Don’t Know About Sugar.  I hope that it is an eye-opener for you.

Since I don’t know what some of the ingredients are, I  decided to read up on a few.

1.  Maltodextrin – A popular used food additive, which is “derived from a plant,” is a highly processed starch.  According to Healthline,

maltodextrin may come from corn, cornstarch, rice, or potato starch.  It can also come from wheat.  The starches are cooked then acids or enzymes are added to break it down further, before resulting in a white powder.

While the packing suggests the drink is gluten free,  relative to Malt0dextrin,


Someone with celiac disease should use caution when consuming maltodextrin and should consult their physician.  You should also know that this addictive is commonly found in nutritional drinks, sugar substitutes, granola, coffee, commercially baked goods, even those labeled gluten-free, pie fillings, sauces, puddings salad dressings, candy, chocolate, sugar substitutes, canned fruit (Eeeew), gelatin, and prepared soup products.  Read labels!

2. Polydextrose –  Two words:  synthetic fiber. It was patented in 1973 and approved by the FDA in 1981.  Although it is not grain fiber, the FDA classifies  it as “soluble fiber.”  Personally I would rather get my fiber from a natural source such as oatmeal (steel cut oats), beans, brown rice, brown rice and vegetables.

3. Natural & Artificial Flavors – The FDA describes artificial favors as a substance that  “…..is NOT derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish poultry, eggs, dairy products….”  Do you see strawberries listed anywhere in the ingredients?  Nope!  But lovely images of strawberries are plastered all over the the product. Really?!?

4. Gellan Gum – This is a microbiological gelling agent that serves the purpose of thickening or “anti-settling agent. It does not alter taste but is commonly used in soups and sauces. ” You can read about the effects of Gellan gum in humans here.

5. Potassium Citrate – Livestrong reports that PC can be found naturally in foods, but is also used as a food additive to stabilize foods and to regulate their acidity levels.  For a list of foods that naturally contain potassium, click Here.  Potassium Citrate is also used as a prescription medication used for several medical conditions, including kidney stones. Learn more  about potassium at one of my favorite sites, The world’s healthiest foods.

6. Cellulose Gum –  Oh boy, this one is a real winner!  Of course, it’s an addictive. But guess what?  It comes from Wood pulp or cotton lint.  The FDA approved this drug and reports that the drug is safe for human consumption.  Hmm…

7. Carrageenan – Another food stabilizer and thickening additictive. It keeps yogurt smooth and creamy and is commonly used in dairy and meat products.  It is said to have a strong binding ability. There are articles that are pro and con carrageenan, but this is one ingredient that I have been avoiding for over year now.

Carrageenan appears to be natural because it is actually extracted from seaweed; however, it is in the processing that changes into a “degraded”carrageenan.  Stay with me here.  In some experiments it has been linked to inflammation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer list degraded carrageenan as a possible carcinogen.  Lab studies have also shown that it can induce inflammation.

Carrageenan can also be found in many organic foods.  I was disappointed and shock to read from Cornucopia Institute that:

carrageenan may be present in the final product but not listed on the ingredients label when it is used as a processing agent.

Yikes!!  You don’t have to take my word for it, do your own research and decide for yourself. 🙂

8. Red 3, Yellow 6, Blue 1 – Food coloring.  Ugh.. The Dyes!!  This really needs to be post of its own. 😦

Nutritionfacts.org reports that,

 Fifteen million pounds of food dyes are sold every year in the US.

Food dyes are used to make food visually more appealing to consumers. Reds are brighter, greens are greener, etc… And in the case of this strawberry protein shake, which does not have any strawberries in it, the dye deceptively  gives it a pink color which tricks you into believing that the beverage contain strawberries.  Smh!

There is a plethora of controversy over food dyes.

Red #1, #2, and #4 all have been banned, but #3 is still used today. Multiple studies suggest food dyes are linked to ADHD, certain types of cancer and other illnesses.

Yellow #5  and #6 are also of concern, especially to parents of young children.  Studies have shown increased hyperactivity in children who are exposed to the dyes.

When our son was younger, I witnessed the effects of food dyes on his behavior, and decided to limit his exposure.  Hence, he was no longer permitted to eat any foods before school that had any traces of food coloring.  This decision helped him to focus better in school. Hubby wasn’t convinced until he witnessed the effects one day during football practice.

It was our son’s birthday, so earlier in the day, he enjoyed cake and cupcakes that were slathered in red and blue icing. Later during football practice, it was obvious that he had trouble controlling himself.

He aimlessly and recklessly tackled teammates when he was instructed not to. We watched him repeatedly roll around on the field like he was on fire or something. With his arms high in the air, the coach who was very frustrated, walked over to us and asked, “What the hell??”

I laughed.  I apologized.  Then I explained the reasons for his behavior. It was so uncharacteristic behavior of our son that the coach was literally scratching his head.  I remember looking at my husband and asking him, “Now do you believe me?”  LOL!!  I think it was at that moment that he understood the affects of sugar and food coloring on our son.

Blue #1 and #2 are listed as another food coloring of concern. In addition to asthma, ADHD comes up again.  There is a pattern linking ADHD to various food coloring.

Although there is so much to say about this beverage and other foods, I think you get my point… READ LABELS.

The more informed you are, the better choices you can make for you and your family.

Thanks for dropping in and Happy Tuesday!


Is This What FLOTUS Had In Mind?

Equal to my passion for fitness is encouraging, uplifting, educating, and empowering teens.

Teenagers are cool beings, often misunderstood, and just want to be heard. No different from when we were adolescents.  How soon we forget. I don’t know of anyone who miraculously jumped from age 13 right into “wisdom” and “maturity.”  Heck many adults are still trying to find themselves.

Anyway, I was preparing to talk to a group of teens. While I spoke, they ate their breakfast, which included this stuff.

delicious essentials

“Delicious Essentials!”  Seriously, what’s essential about this?  Read the label.

muffin labelPeep the sugar!!  16 grahams!

Graham Cracker’s for breakfast?

graham crackersGot milk?

low fat milklow fat milk labelLet’s add more sugar! 12 grams.

It was early morning and my curiosity got the best of me. I always read food and product labels. I already suspected the food had little nutritional value and was high in sugar, but wanted confirmation.

I picked up the packages squinting and straining to gain focus to read the small printed labels (reading specs were not on hand).

Aloud I say Nooo!!  Seriously?!! The “food pusha” that I am, the name given to me by a colleague, was appalled by the nutritional value of the package.

In just one meal, the breakfast almost exceeds the American Heart Association’s new daily sugar guidelines for pre-teen and teens.

One prepackaged breakfast included cereal, juice and animal crackers. Yes, animal crackers!  Smh!

Food Sugar Sodium Calories
Golden Grahams Cereal 5 grams 220 110
100% Apple Juice 12 grams 10 60
Whole grain animal crackers 7 90 110
Total 24 grams 320 grams 280

While this “meal” is low in calories, the sugar content is high.

“A recent AHA (American Heart Association) study found 14-18 year old children intake the most sugar on a daily basis, averaging about 34.3 teaspoons a day.”

A large number of sugar consumed by these kids come from sodas and juices. This number can be drastically decreased by replacing juice and soda with water. To add natural flavor to water, add lemon wedges, strawberries, or cucumber.

So back to the package… The “great breakfast” is produced by E.S.Foods. “Nourishing our future” is the tag line under the logo.   Umm… aaahhh…. (Twisting my lips to find the right words)… animal crackers, juice and Golden Grahams are not my idea of feeding my son a nutritious breakfast in the morning.

Here’s another breakfast favorite that was included in the stash.

fruit loops

Who believes that there is actually fruit in this bowl?  Want to to talk about food coloring?  Ugh!!

froot loop label

Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 6, Blue 1 – Here’s more about blue dye.

Before anyone gets upset here, I get it!

“A” breakfast is better than “no” breakfast at all. True.

But seriously, I really wanna know does the company genuinely want to help nourish kids or is it the same old bullshit that revolves around profit and a network of business minded folk and or politicians exchanging favors.

With the kids in mind, my thoughts are,

“How can the quality of the package contents be improved?”

“How can real fruit be incorporated into this process?”

I’m not naïve and understand the shelf-life of fruit is limited. The complexities of getting fresh produce out to kids will mostly likely be more complicated and cumbersome. I also know, due to shrinking family budgets, that not all kids eat or have even been exposed to fresh fruit.

Why not offer more fruit in schools and places like the Police Athletic Leagues, YMCA’s,  and The Boys & Girls Club of America?

There has to be a better way. I’m not here to judge any business, organization or institution who chooses to buy the product, I am simply pointing out facts and asking questions.

What if the manufacturer removed the cookies and substituted the cookies with a fruit coded voucher (similar to coupons redeemed from smart phones)  for fruit redemption in the food line in school?

Certainly they (manufacturers & suppliers) know the value and cost of each bag of cookies.

What if the manufacturer partnered with a local produce vendor or grocery store?

What if those grocery stores and markets provided fresh fruits to the vendors who buy the pre-packaged breakfasts and reimbursed them based on consumption up to an agreed upon amount? What if the local vendors partnered with agencies and institutions that serviced children?

Childhood obesity continues to rise. The Center for Disease Prevention (CDC) reports that, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

High blood pressure, diabetes, and hypertension—are diagnosed at much earlier ages than in previous decades.

I am a football mom. At the start of each season, I sit and repulsively observe over-weight and out of shape players struggle to complete one lap around the football field. The boys are literally wheezing, gasping for air, and crying! These boys are pre-teens and too young to be unfit and unhealthy.  It’s insane!

Years ago kids spent endless hours playing outside.  Electronics (TV, computers, games, smart phones, iPads, and other fun gadgets) replace the outdoor physical activity.

Throughout the school day only God knows what the kids eat. Furthermore, many of them do not eat dinner before soccer, football, cheer, baseball, lacrosse, or whatever their chose activity is.  By 8 O’Clock at night, the kids are hungry and will wolf down anything resembling food.

Cheese fries, hot dogs, or chicken fingers from the concession stand or a slice or two of pizza from the local pizzeria is not my idea of dinner.  Most often parents think they do not have the time to prepare balanced home cooked meals. But the key is meal planning and meal prep (just like in body building).

Consuming less processed foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables is essential.  I know that it is expensive to eat healthier. But don’t forget healthcare costs are rising too and American’s are also paying more for healthcare.  So, why not try to make small changes that will have better long-term affects on the health of our children?

So between these “healthy” breakfast offerings, school lunches, and on-the-road dinner, its no wonder childhood obesity and chronic illnesses are rising.

The solution? Education. Education. Education.

For whom?

Everyone!

Start by reading food labels. If you don’t know how to read labels, resources are available online. Here too.  If you don’t know what an ingredient is, google it online and keep reading until you understand what the ingredient.  Further research the ingredient. When you find something that isn’t healthy (or repulsive to you), make note of it (put it in notes on your phone) and avoid buying food with the product or buy foods that have lower amounts of the ingredient.

Policy makers. They can’t just campaign for healthier foods, sign off on legal documents, slap their hands together and call their job done. “Healthy foods” needs to be defined so that everyone is on the same page. Healthy to me certainly differs from someone else.

Banning candy and soda in school is fine, but not when the food is replaced by packaged food that say “healthy,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” and “low sodium” but is laced with sugar (as much or more as the candy) and other artificial and genetically modified organisms. Oh my Gawd!! My head is spinning.

Parents Wake up! Learn better habits so that you can do better. Read and educate yourself about the food you buy and serve your children.

I am not saying they can’t eat candy, chips, etc… What I am saying is that this “junk” that is often masked, as nutritious food should not be a child’s primary source of food.

While speaking to a group of teens I used my favorite car analogy. I asked about their dream cars. Maserati! Lamborghini! Mercedes! Range Rover! I further inquired about the type of gasoline they’d fuel their car. “The best!” “High octane!”   What about tires, I continued to probe… They named outlandishly expensive tires and rims that I’ve never heard of. Lastly I asked if how they cared for their dream care would affect the car’s performance. They agreed it would.

BINGO!!

So why would you take better care of your car than your body??   I could see the light bulbs going off! Lol!   Will it change the way they eat? Maybe. Maybe not. I tried to help them make a connection between diet and performance (mental & physical). If nothing else, they left the discussion with a little more insight with respect to what they eat.

All I can think about is Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative. What would FLOTUS say about these meals? Remember, I am not judging and know the process is not easy. I am however, asking important questions, looking for better solutions and challenging parents to do the same.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a fabulous day! 🙂

Additional Resources

Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2010

MyPyramid.gov

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 

Nutrition.gov 

healthfinder.gov 

Health.gov

Eatingwell.com

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA

Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

Food and Nutrition Service 

Food and Nutrition Information Center

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Food and Drug Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institutes of Health

Let’s Move!

Healthy People

U.S. National Physical Activity Plan Note: The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan is not a product of the Federal Government. However, a number of Federal offices were involved in the development of the Plan