It was only natural that baby boomers would lead the way with checking labels on cans, boxes and wrappers. We grew up with the advice to check things out.
There was a jingle: "If it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label, label, label; you will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table."
Since ingredients are listed by volume or quantity, the first thing on the list is the product's chief ingredient.
The rule of thumb is to look for sugar in various forms. Sugar can be disguised as honey, maple syrup, or even "organic dehydrated cane juice". Sometimes fruit juice concentrates are used.
Here is a list of some of the possible code words for "sugar" which may appear on a label: agave nectar, barley malt syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, molasses, rice syrup, saccharose, sorghum or sorghum syrup, sucrose, treacle, turbinado sugar and xylose.
The words syrup, sweetener, and anything ending in "ose" can usually be assumed to be sugar.
Recently I studied the ingredients of my favorite cereal, Cheerios. Cheerios are a food staple from childhood on up.
Don't all mothers give their baby Cheerios for num-num? And that's fine. It's not a bad choice.
Historically, Cheerios were made primarily of oats. And that's still true if you're eating plain Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios. But if you're eating Banana Nut Cheerios, you might be surprised to learn that the primary ingredient is corn, not oats. Fruity Cheerios also are made of corn. Chocolate Cheerios are made of corn, too.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with corn. But many prefer oats and believe oats are a key to weight loss.
And folks who buy Cheerios are under the impression they're eating oats.
So we need to learn to study labels and let the buyer beware.
Interestingly, somebody picked up on an inconsistency on the Cheerios box.
The box says that 95% of Americans don't eat enough whole grain. Then they say that Genreral Mills cereals provide most of the whole grains Americans consume for breakfast. So that means it's General Mills' fault that we're not getting enough whole grain.
So here's the take-away lesson. If you eat Honey Nut Cheerios, there's a smart way to to cut down on the sugar. Buy one box of Honey Nut Cheerios (9 grams of sugar) and one box of regular Cheerios (1 gram of sugar). Mix them together and you've cut your sugar consumption in half and you'll never even notice.
That's what I've been trying to do to overcome a sugar addition. Lots of us are sugaraholics. We boomers really have a sweet tooth. If it says sugar, sugar, sugar on the label, label, label; we will like it, like it, like it, on our table, table, table.
We know what tastes good.
And that's why you'll find plenty of Dunkin Donuts, but you'll never see a Dunkin Spinach.