Lean Cuisine? More like Sugar Cuisine

This is a bit of a rant, but an educated and gentle rant. I will try to keep it relevant and succinct.

While searching for new “food” movies on the web, I found a 1 hour British documentary called The Truth About Sugar; non-alarmist, very civilized, almost fun to watch and educational. As I watched, recalled an ad for Lean Cuisine that I saw at some point. This ad struck me because I had a baby 8 months ago in a hospital and had an amazing and very positive experience, especially with he delivery nurses. Please watch and then read on. Here is the ad.

Yes, certain jobs are more stressful and ask more of us than others. And we could argue that doctors, nurses, and teachers should get paid more than other occupations because of how much they serve and give of themselves, or at least get more time and coverage for self care. I wish for doctors and nurses a healthier lifestyle because of the responsibilities that come with their jobs. Donuts in the break room is the last kind of fuel anyone needs.

Getting back to the ad, first let’s look at how much sugar a particular meal contains. Let’s break down, using a Nutrition Facts label, TOTAL CARBOHYDRATES into DIETARY FIBER in grams (doesn’t count, it’s good for you. The more the better), SUGAR in grams and the leftover CARBOHYDRATES that don’t get a label, STARCHES (which essentially turn into sugar when they hit your mouth). The very outdated Nutrition Facts labels are hard to understand. What do they mean and why should we care?

So to get back to the ad for Lean Cuisine, here is a simple comparison that is alarming. A Lean Cuisine meal of macaroni and cheese, when looking at the Nutrition Facts label here, tells us there are 35 grams of TOTAL CARBOHYDRATES, and only 1 gram of those is DIETARY FIBER. We also read that there are only 5 grams of SUGAR. BUT WAIT! and this is the most important part: what about the rest of those TOTAL CARBOHYDRATES not accounted for? STARCH (they just don’t label it on the label where it should be labeled). What this basically translates to is that there are 34 grams of carbohydrates (or just under 9 teaspoons of sugar) in the form of sugar and starch, that breaks down in your mouth very quickly into glucose, or refined sugar in one form or another. So, keep that fact in your head: one Lean Cuisine Macaroni and Cheese has 34 grams of starch and sugar combined that break down in your body into sugar, essentially.


How does this compare? This is the fun part: a Hershey bar. It has 25 grams of carbs – total, only 1 of which is DIETARY FIBER, 24 grams are SUGAR. So – Lean Cuisine macaroni and cheese, advertised as a healthy meal for a hard working delivery nurse who might benefit from a well rounded and whole food meal, is getting 10 more grams of CARBOHYDRATES in her meal than if she just ate a Hershey bar for dinner.

All I can say is yikes. Embrace real food, my friends.