Product No Case: Calorie-Free Salad Dressing

A couple of days ago I blogged about my current favorite salad dressing from Trader Joes.  And then I was in the grocery store and stumbled upon calorie-free salad dressing from Walden Farms. Their label brags “calorie free, sugar free, fat free, carbohydrate free, gluten free, cholesterol free.”  So my question is, we know what it doesn’t contain, so WHAT THE HECK IS IT?!?  Their website doesn’t give any of the nutrition or ingredient label info, so I can’t answer that question.  But I will say that I think it’s a bad idea to be eating anything that declares to be nothing.  Why?

1.) They are hiding something.  Nutrition labeling laws are screwy.  The manufacturer likely altered the ingredients and portion sizes so as to report that it contains “nothing” when in fact they have just fiddled with the numbers.  For example, if a portion of salad dressing contains <.5 grams fat the label can legally say 0.  But if you have 3 servings, you are actually getting close 1.5 grams of fat.

2.) It likely contains plenty of non-food items like binders and thickeners to mimic real food.  This can cause havoc on your GI system and just won’t keep full like real calories can.

3.) It fuels the notion that fats are bad.  Just read their website: “Eating a salad is healthy, unless it’s topped with high calorie, high fat salad dressings that can easily add hundreds of calories.”

Au contraire! Fats are an ESSENTIAL part of a nutritious diet.  Healthy fats (think olive and canola oil, nuts, avocados) provide anti-inflammatory properties, help repair our neurological system, provide the feeling of satiety and satisfaction, and make foods taste delicious!  True, we need them in moderation, but we still need them!

4.) It promotes a binge mentality.  Do you guys remember what happened with bagels and Snackwell cookies in the fat-free craze of the 90’s?  Everyone thought that anything devoid of fat was fair game and people started binging on it, then wondered why they gained weight!  We need to embrace all foods: fats, carbs, calories in moderation.

5.) It puts calories in a bad light.  Why do we have to be calorie haters?   In order to think, exercise, and work, we need to fuel (or calories).  Let’s shed the guilt of putting real food into our bodies.

So the next time you think about topping your salad with a phoney-bologna dressing, think again.

DISCLAIMER: I am not opposed to eating things that are non-nutritious but tasty. I would be the last to turn down a homemade chocolate chip cookie! My purpose is to help you see through the marketing ploy of food companies and understand how to feed your body based on sound nutrition. The goal is to fill our diets with nutritious foods and enjoy the yummy but not particularly healthy foods in moderation. My hope is to give you a little clarity with these “No Case” postings.

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