So it wasn't long ago I wrote a post about reduced calorie, portion controlled snacks. And here I am talking about it again. What gives?
Well, it's partly because I just came across some actual research on the subject!
Study Says Portion Controlled Snacks Cut Calorie Consumption
Yep, a recent study of 100-calorie snack packages found that people consume about 120 fewer calories a day when they're eating from the little 100 cal guys than when they're given the same snacks in normal-sized packages.
Hooray for research! So now those of you who like to buy and eat 100-calorie packs of your favorite junk foods can feel somewhat vindicated. You may well be eating less than if you were buying the regular versions.
Yet oddly enough, some folks are reluctant to have these little snack packs in the house.
People like, for example... me.
Shh... Are We All By Ourselves Here?
Not long ago Cranky Fitness hosted a giveaway featuring coupons redeemable for some low-calorie, portion controlled snack food. Many of you had mixed feelings about these 100 calorie (or less) treats, and expressed these feelings in a very entertaining manner. (And how cool is it that we now have a compilation of poems about snack foods? )
I said in the post that I have been known to eat these foods on occasion--which is true. I also said I thought they were a perfectly legitimate thing to snack on sometimes, which is also true. Especially if someone's actually done a study saying they help folks with portion control.
However, I won't personally have the little f*ckers in the house.
It did not seem sporting of me, however, to go into great detail about this at the time. Not when someone was giving us some 100 calorie thingies to try for free.
But now, after an unfortunate incident involving a wayward box of Golden Sponge Cake Twinkie-Like Snacks not even meant for me, I feel compelled to share my feelings about these portion controlled treats.
But What About the Giveaway? Where's the Beef?
Ah yes, a brief digression before I start whining about snacks:
As you may have noticed, it's Friday but yet again, this is not a giveaway post. Sorry.
It's looking like these won't be happening every Friday, but we hope that on many or at least some Fridays we may have Free Things for you to win. It sort of depends on whether anyone knocks on the blog's front door and says, "Hi ya Crabby, want some free stuff to give out?"
When they do, I'll say, "hell yeah!" unless it's for something way too weird. I have actually turned down offers before. You don't even want to know what you missed.
Of course sometimes, lacking free things to offer up, we may offer pictures of semi-naked men as a cheap appeasement gesture.
Photo by Nàlez
(Actually, it's not just a cheap gesture, it's principled feminist statement. Because at Cranky Fitness, we are still trying mightily to correct the appalling discrepancy between sexy-women images and sexy-men images in the media. We support women being Subjects sometimes and not just Objects. Wait... what does this have to do with 100 calorie snacks? Er... never mind).
So here is my brief list of reasons why I think...
100 Calorie Snack Packs Are Actually Instruments of the Devil.
(Photo by zoomar)
1. They're Too Damn Small
I know, they're supposed to be small. But c'mon!
I think food manufacturers used to spend more time messing with the ingredients, rather than the portion sizes, of diet foods. They'd make normal sized stuff, but they'd use weirder constituent parts. That’s why diet junk food used to taste pretty much like artificial sweeteners, petroleum derivatives, insecticide, and cardboard.
Now the lower cal versions don't taste nearly as vile as they used to. Because they’re just as calorie-packed as the original! You just get less to eat.
Fair enough, I suppose. But so often the manufacturers try to disguise the fact you're only getting a couple of bites by hiding itty bitty portions in great big wrappers and boxes. And then they put freakishly exaggerated pictures on the front so you think you're getting an actual serving.
This works fine in the store—-the first time. "Wow, look what I get for 100 calories, that's a miracle! Hallelujah !" But this approach can backfire when the snack is taken home and opened. "THOSE are supposed to be cupcakes? Surely not for humans? Maybe they're marketing directly to ants now?"
I know we Americans are accustomed to gigantic serving sizes, but still. Even you sensible Europeans would be appalled at how miniscule some of these things are.
2. They're Expensive!
Portion control comes at a price. And it's not just the actual cost of those little wrappers and boxes; I'm sure of it. There's an additional "You're Afraid You Can't Control Yourself" penalty tax assessed on these items, paid for mainly by women. (Men who can't control themselves seem more likely not to give a crap and be perfectly happy with normal size packages). If you put all those tiny little servings together you might find you're paying $15 for the equivalent of a candy bar or $ 25 for normal sized bag of regular cookies.
3. They're Not Real Food
Readers of Cranky Fitness are very smart and are under no illusions that Light Donuts or 100 calorie Chocolate Chip Cookies or Potato chips, etc, are real food.
However, have you ever noticed that friends, relatives, and coworkers can get confused about this? They treat these things like they are real food and they eat a boatload of it because it's "low-cal." Their days start with reduced calorie toaster pastry for breakfast and then they have the "lite" choice at the fast food place for lunch and the 100 calorie snack item from the vending machine in the afternoon and a frozen reduced calorie tv dinner at night followed by a reduced calorie frozen treat for dessert, or three, because they're tiny. And these people think they're being incredibly virtuous! Yikes.
4. They come in boxes
Alas, I am not the least bit fooled by individual wrappers. You can call something a "serving size" and put some sealed plastic around it, but if you sell those little servings in boxes along with other little servings, folks like me will figure out that we can always open up more wrappers. We keep doing that until we are satisfied or the whole damn box is gone, and guess which usually comes first?
So I recently received, by mistake, a box of faux twinkies that I suspect was meant for another blogger--one who had not already cashed in on the faux twinkie giveaway by giving away snack coupons.
I didn't want the twinkies in my house; that's why I'd done the promotion as a giveaway in the first place and not as a review.
There were six teeny tiny twinkies in the box at 80 calories a pop. Two days later, all six were gone. (Or wait, could there have been 8? Oh Lord... lets hope it was six.) Actual calories per "serving" came to 240, unless it was 320. Crap. Alas, I don't think I burned many extra calories opening up those additional wrappers.
5. They're Tasty!
I know that many of you do not find processed portion controlled snack food to be the least bit tempting.
Those damn fake twinkies? They totally rocked. Sure, they tasted a bit plasticky, but I grew up eating synthetic food like that. Desserts that are super sweet and artificially moist have a special place in my heart.
Just not in my cupboard.
I know many of you already shared your feelings about these things, but feel free to do so again, or comment on whatever the heck you want. Got a fun weekend coming up? Are you registered to vote yet? Read any good books or seen any good movies lately? We're easy!