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Published:May 22nd, 2007 07:03 EST
The 100-Calorie Craze

The 100-Calorie Craze

By Kate Bennett

Our country is clearly diet crazy.  Take a walk down the snack isle in the grocery store and you will find boxes upon boxes of food screaming “only 100-calories” at you.  Every snack you had as a kid has been slimmed down for your now slowing metabolism: Oreos, Cheese Nips, Chips Ahoy cookies, Teddy Grahams, Nutter Butters, Wheat Thins … the list goes on. 
It all seemed to start with these food items, about a year or two ago.  Now we have added 100-calorie tiny cans of soda, cups of Jell-O pudding (non-sugar), containers of Pringles, and packages of Fruit Snacks.   Adding itself to the list will be Hershey’s 100-calorie chocolate bar. 
The appeal of these pre-packaged items is rather simple, a reasonable amount of calories in each pack to help you maintain your weight and still have the taste you love.  But companies have begun to get tricky on consumers, knowing they’ll jump at the chance to buy something if it will cause them less weight-induced stress.

Let me give you an example.  A few weeks ago, I bought a box of 100-calorie packs of Pringles.  A die-hard sour cream and onion fan, I was totally psyched to see them sitting on the shelf.  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized, however, that the advertised 100-calories per serving were only part of the key information.  The fat content per serving was, still to my dismay, huge, a whopping 6 grams.

This brings us full circle, in a cycle that has been never-ending, especially for women as their metabolism begins to slow and the pounds start to appear from anything.  Years ago there was a huge low fat/light craze during which people were eating massive amounts of low fat food, thinking it was ok since it was low fat. 
If you eat tons of low fat food, you’ll still gain weight.  Just because it’s low fat, doesn’t mean it’s good for you or you can eat as much of it as you want!

Now there’s a shocker. 

What’s mystifying to me is that after people finally got this concept, fat-free foods made their debut and everyone did exactly what they’d done with the low fat foods.  Just because it’s fat free, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have loads of calories.

Why people can’t understand this concept is beyond me.  People still think they’re eating healthy when they eat a salad and glop huge amounts of fatty dressing on it.  We’re not the fattest country because we all eat MacDonald’s French fries and Big Macs.

The solution, time and time again, that has been offered by nutritionists and physicians is to eat a variety of foods in moderation.  This means getting all, or most, of your servings of vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein, water, etc.  It doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, have those 100-calorie Oreos or Fruit Snacks; but it also doesn’t mean you should eat 3 of them in one day. 

It’s not like this is something you haven’t heard or read somewhere before (if it is, you’ve been living under a rock).  So why isn’t it sticking in people’s minds?  Got me.