The Tangential Thinker

      It all started several years ago. In a very Nanny Diaries moment, I scolded a babysitter for feeding Cranky, Whiny and Punch some seemingly nutrient-free, sugar-coated cereal. She quickly pointed out that the ‘healthful’ granola-oat-fiber brand I was eating actually had more sugar than what the kids were having. (She was let go for unrelated reasons.)

    The message was clear: Foods can be deceiving. So deceiving, in fact, that the editor of Men’s Health magazine came out with a book called Eat This, Not That, pointing out some fairly startling nutritional information. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that pumpkin pie is better for you than pecan pie, but did you know a box of Junior Mints has half the calories of a small package of cherry Twizzlers? Or that All-Bran is practically the nutritional equivalent of Corn Pops?

    When I was a kid things were easy. Food items proudly declared their nutritional shortcomings. Corn Pops used to be Sugar Corn Pops. Super Golden Crisp used to be Super Sugar Crisp. KFC was Kentucky Fried Chicken. They didn’t stop frying the chicken, they just stopped calling it fried. It’s only a matter of time until Oscar Mayer comes out with ‘meaty morning breakfast crisps.’

    Most people consider smoothies a smart option, and they certainly can be. They can also be terrible for you. Odwalla’s blackberry fruit smoothie has 58 grams of sugar—that’s two full-sized Butter fingers! A Smoothie King Grape Expectations 40-ounce smoothie, according to the Men’s Health gang, is the most sugar-packed comestible in America: 250 grams, the equivalent of 30 chocolate-drizzled rice crispy treats. Wowza! Of the food pairs below, see if you can name the healthier option:

Salad Dressing

Ken’s Steakhouse Asian Sesame or Kraft Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette


Nutter Butter or Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast Meat

Bacon or turkey bacon


Cheerios or Cracklin’ Oat Bran


Guinness Draft bottle or Corona bottle


Bloody Mary or rum and Diet Coke


Big Mac or Whopper

Deli Meat

Applegate Farms Uncured Ham or Buddig Honey Turkey


Hormel Chili or Campbell’s Tomato Bisque


Thomas’ Hearty Grains English Muffins or Pillsbury Cinna mon Rolls

        In every case, the first choice is the healthier option. Oh, and if you got that last one wrong, you really need to buy the book. 

More Tangential Thinker articles.