I was watching television last night when I saw an advertisement for Food Product A. I won’t mention names here, or even tell you what the food product was-that’s not important. What is important is the advertisement itself, and how incredibly ridiculous it was.
You see, this particular advertisement emphasizes that Food Product A has 20, count ‘em, 20 calories less than another brand, per serving. 20 calories.
It strikes me how much the times have changed. I remember when I was young I watched an episode of The Donna Reed show. Now, it’s funny. In that one episode that I still remember, the members of the family one by one realize their clothes are getting a little tight and decide, without going on and on about a diet, or carbohydrates, or points, to be a little careful about what they are eating. Slowly, each person cuts out dessert or chocolates until they are back to their regular size/shape.
It’s funny how far we’ve come and yet how behind we are. And, it’s actually not funny at all. It’s troubling.
The thought that 20 calories should make enough of a difference to you between Food Product A and Food Product B, the leading brand, without regard for what actually matters, which taste you prefer, which makes you feel good, is absurd. Now, of course, the commercial tells us how tasty Food Product A is and that in addition to it being so freaking tasty it is also 20, count ‘em, 20 calories less than the leading brand!
But, the excitement, the glamour, the buzz that comes from a 20 calorie sound bite, or even a 100 calorie sound bite,tells me how much attention we now pay to calories. numbers. And, in insignificant amounts like 20, that’s pretty frightening. And, as always, if you need to lose weight for your health and a doctor has recommended these products, well then you probably need to follow that advice. But, for the rest of us, is 20 calories really that significant? Would an extra 100 calories in a snack or meal destroy us?
Now, let’s take a look at what burns 20 calories. Keeping in mind, that 15 minutes of walking burns approximately 75 to 100 calories, depending on who you ask, your walking pace, and your own calorie burning ability.
How You Can Burn 20 Calories: (credit to http://www.bactk.com/PDFs/twenty_ways.pdf)
1. walk upstairs twice
2. do twenty abdominal crunches
3. walk briskly through grocery store aisles
4. dance to two of your favorite songs
5. help with housework for 15 minutes
Now, not only do you already burn calories just being you all day, but add in a little activity here and there, and those twenty calories disappear. And so does the extra 100. And, remember, we don’t want every calorie to disappear; we only want to burn more calories than we take in IF we are trying to lose weight. We want to burn as many calories as we take in if we want to maintain our weight.
So, is twenty really that bad? And, regardless, is this the message we should be sending to people? Really? In a world where calorie obsessions and absurd, ridiculous, and unhealthy body images surround us, is a message about such an insignificant amount of calories more damaging than helpful?