The Ingredients Game

By Dr. Dina Rose

A big thank you to Dr. Dina Rose for giving CTF permission to re-post this fabulous piece about ingredients. Dr. Rose is a food sociologist who writes It’s Not About Nutrition, a blog about the “Art & Science of Teaching Kids to Eat Right.”


- Thomas’ Hearty Grains Double Fiber English Muffins
– Entenmann’s Softees Mini Donuts
– Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers

It’s pretty hard to do.  Right?

That’s because we’re used to identifying foods from their labels- when we’re at the mercy of the manufacturers’ marketing professionals — not their ingredients.

If you turn things around, the products all look basically the same because they’re made from essentially the same ingredients: refined flour, oil and sugar.

And, as Jane E. Brody points out in today’s New York Times article Rules Worth Following, For Everyone’s Sake, once refined flour gets into your body, it’s essentially the same as sugar.  That means all three products are really just sugar — with some oil and sugar.

Here’s the answer to the game:

  1. Entenmann’s Softees Mini Donuts
  2. Thomas’ Hearty Grains Double Fiber English Muffins
  3. Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers

Here’s another test.  Match up these ingredients with their foods.

Enough said!

Instead of wasting your time reading ingredient lists or nutrition labels, think proportion.

1) Group processed foods together and then make sure these “gems” don’t dominate your kids’ diets.  Instead:

2) Feed your kids real foods most of the time.  Because”

When it comes to teaching kids to eat right, what matters most is the ratio of fresh, natural foods to processed foods that your kids consume.

Although there are some nutritional differences between processed products, what they have in common is way more important for shaping how your kids eat. .

- Processed foods all have essentially the same taste, texture, aroma and appearance and none of them are at all like broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, melon, apples, or pears.

It’s what your kids get used to that dictates what other foods they’ll accept.  It’s all about their habits.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Note: I wish I could say I thought this game up, but I pilfered (and modified) it from the folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.   If you aren’t familiar with this group, and you are interested in nutrition, the politics of the food industry and the truth, you should check them out. You can find them  I subscribe to their wonderful, bimonthly newsletter NutritionAction.

Sources: Product Labels; Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Name that Food.” Nutrition Action Healthletter. January/February, 2010. pp. 10-11; Brody, Jane E. “Rules Worth Following, For Everyone’s Sake.” New York Times. accessed 2/2/2010.

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