Monday, May 16, 2011

Read the fine print

You have two options for breakfast: a Clif Bar or Pop Tarts

Which do you choose?

Maybe you’re thinking: “oh, man! Pop Tarts?! I haven’t had those since I was a kid! I’m definitely gonna have me some of those!”

But, on the other hand, just maybe you’re thinking: “Oh, I like to eat healthy. I’m gonna go for the Clif Bar.”

And I share that logic. It makes sense. Because here’s the thing: Clif Bars are marketed to health-conscious consumers, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, they sell them at Vitamin Cottage, right there alongside the “vegan-barley-soynut-antioxidant-immortality granola.” The package has an image of a mountain climber, for Pete’s sake, as well as a really compelling story of how a cyclist founded the company. Guys, this stuff is for outdoorsy people. For athletes. For people who are in shape. And healthy.
That’s what I want to be, too.

Flip the packages over, however, and you see this:
Pop-tarts:                     Clif Bar:
Calories: 200                 Calories: 245
Total Fat: 5 grams         Total Fat: 5 grams
Sugar: 16 grams            Sugar: 22 grams
Carbs: 38 grams            Carbs: 42 grams

But what about the protein, KG? It’s a protein bar.
And you’re right. A Clif Bar has a whole 11 grams.
If protein is what you’re after, though, you’re better off having cheese sticks – two of them have more protein (12 grams) for about half the calories (120) and only two more grams of fat.

(“But wait, KG,” you might remind me, “this is for breakfast. Nobody eats cheese sticks for breakfast!” To which I might say, “well, actually, there’s no rule against it – I’m sure people do – but I see your point. In that case, if you’ve got some time on your hands and are feeling a little crafty, you could hard boil three eggs and eat the whites. They’ve got the same 12 grams of protein but with much fewer calories (about 50 calories for all three) with 0 grams of fat. Better?”)  

In any case, the Clif Bar remains the least healthy of your options.
And I can't even begin to guess how many Clif Bars I ate before I thought to compare them to Pop Tarts.  

There are a lot of things in life like this – things that are presented as one thing but then fail to deliver on the subliminal expectations. But few of us take the time to read the fine print – to pick it apart and figure out if it actually is what we are led to believe it is.

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