Friday, March 23, 2007

Chocolate Milk and Common Sense

Today I did something very odd. Well, odd for me. At lunch time, I bought myself a chocolate milk. Honestly, I rarely ever drink chocolate milk. In fact, I rarely drink milk at work, even though it is my beverage of choice at home.

Anyhow, drinking chocolate milk hardly seems blog-worthy material...except in this case. Because, as any good diabetic, I always read the label and check the carb content before consuming. And, as any good diabetic knows, knowing the carb value isn't good enough. You have to also know how many servings are in that package. A little math, and voila! You have your total carbs.

Or do you?

See, had I done that blindly, I would have given myself a bolus for 232 carbs. No, that's not a typo. But there was a typo on the bottle. 29 carbs per serving, but the bottle said there were 8 servings, when in reality, there were only 2.

Of course, I am more than just a good diabetic, and I immediately realized the error. But what if I hadn't? What if I am like a good percentage of Americans, and just took the nutritional information (whatever it all means) at face value. It could have been a serious issue.

It shows the perils of blindly accepting things. Even when being diligent, we have to use common sense. There is no way that bottle of chocolate milk should contain 232 carbs!

Which brings me to another, less obvious example of misleading labels.

Are you aware that the carb content listed on an item is, in reality, the minimum carb content, and not actual?

See, it goes back to a day when manufacturers weren't being held accountable for their labels, and they might say that a package had 2 oz, but really only contained 1.7 oz as a means to save a little money. Someone sued (or at least, I think they did), which led to a tightening of laws. If a package says 2 ounces, then I had better be getting at least 2 ounces.

At least.

And that's where the problem is...because, in reality, while a manufacturer may try to get as close to that 2 ounces as possible, for fear of falling under, which would be illegal, they will err on the side of caution and the package will contain slightly more than the label says. In fact, it could contain twice as much as the package says. And while the carb content is listed for a 2 ounce serving size, and the package says there is 1 serving, in actuality, it could be 1.5 servings., meaning your carbs are way off.

Calculating carbs is in inexact science. Even if you weigh each and every byte you put in your mouth, some foods have various parts with varying carb densities. Take the Frosted Pop-Tart as an example. If the package says it weights so much, but in reality it weighs slightly more, is that "slightly more" from too much frosting, too much filling, or too much pastry? It matters, because if it is all from too much frosting, that will be significantly more carbs than from too much pastry.

So, good luck on getting your carb calculations perfect. It isn't possible, so don't fret about it. That's what the correction bolus was invented for!


MarshaAnne said...

Hi Ryan!

I don't really care about the chocolate-milk thing..sorry! But...look! I'm not anonymous anymore! I signed up to get a blogger account.

BTW, don't eat anymore high-carb foods cause I want to get CHOCOLATE at the movies tonight! And, you know you can't pass on a box of Goobers!

RyanBruner said...

Well, look everybody! It's my lovely wifey-pooh! She's a blogger now.

And thanks for the reminder, honey. Goobers. Yum!

Scott K. Johnson said...

This is a great topic Ryan - and helped me to better understand why the food labels are not necessarily 100% accurate.

I'm really surprised that an error such as what you found on the Chocolate milk carton! That is amazing! I bet the quality control person at the milk company never thought they might be responsible for killing a diabetic by an error such as that!

As you say, you knew better. But there are a lot of people out there who would have just punched the values in and bolused away!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Errors happen quite often. Back to the pop tart thing, I love my cinnimon part tarts. The box says two pastries has 74 carbs, but that is not true. I bolus for 105 carbs after much trial and error, two hours later I am on track.

I do think chocolate has quite a bit of carbs, much more than regular milk, but definately not some 200 carbs.

Sorry, I don't blog with blogger, so I am anonymous, but I do blog at We Have Diabetes

Thanks again.

MileMasterSarah said...

hahahaha, that must work with calories too, which explains my growing backside quite nicely.....

and I am the master of the correction bolus!

Kim said...

Thank you for bringing such nice posts. Your blog is always fascinating to read.