Reduced guilt?

Good evening everyone!

I had planned to do a nice long post tonight, all about my hill workout, but never actually made it to the workout. One of my good work friends got engaged over the weekend, so my workout turned into dinner and drinks at Todd English’s Bonfire. They had an excellent taco special tonight, so we ate all sorts of tacos: butter braised lobster, ahi tuna, crispy fish, chicken, and veggie, for a very low price. Their tacos are 4/$12 until 7pm. The bar is an absolutely gorgeous, long, carved wood bar with rich, dark decor. This is one of my favorite bars for post work drinks, and it was a great place to celebrate the engagement!

The evening required some food and workout flexibilty for me, which sometimes can be a little unnerving. I planned on a hard workout followed by lots of veggies and salad. Instead I had drinks, food, and while I still walked about 2 of my 3 miles home, wasn’t getting a butt kicking workout like I expected. These moments sometimes cause me to have to step back for a second and remind myself its ok to go off schedule, that I don’t do it everyday, and that its a healthy part of life to want to skip a workout to celebrate a friend’s joy. Do you ever feel like this?

I did get to start writing on a topic that I find very interesting, and my post is below. Don’t forget to have your guest posts to me by tomorrow evening if you want to submit one for this week. I will start posting them on Wednesday. Adios!

Yesterday afternoon I had a great run from the MSPCA to my favorite Trader Joe’s then did my grocery shopping. It was great to get so much accomplished on my run. Tomorrow I will post about all of my great finds and the delicious eats that I have come up with from my shopping. I did want to take a photo, but it was SO humid that by the time I got home, everything was getting melty and wet. Ick! One thing I love about winter is that after grocery shopping, we can usually leave the bags in the car and do other errands, and everything stays cold!

 Anyway, one of my purchases was Trader Joe’s brand baked “wheat thin” style crackers. I was grabbing a handful last night and noticed that the box exclaims “reduced guilt!”. This really got me thinking. As a marketer by profession, I feel really strongly about the impact that words can have on a market. Several years ago, I had the great privilege of working on a chapter for Food Marketing to Children and Youth, a publication put out by the Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC. My former boss was on one of the committees and asked me to outline and help write the chapter he was responsible for which dealt with marketing food to children. The research was interesting and horrifying. Not having children of my own, I didn’t often venture into the “kid food” aisles or products, and I started to notice that everywhere marketing on not so great food was geared to children, and it was basically trying to undermine parents’ efforts to make good choices. Pretty much any junk food geared to children featured the Disney or Pixar character du jour.

 When the book was published, we started to see some immediate changes in the food marketing landscape, and it was really exciting. As my then boss said, it was giving retailers and food producers the opportunity to regulate themselves before being forced to comply with regulations. It is sad that it has taken so long and an epidemic of obesity among American children to really rally a call for change, and there is a lot more that needs to be done, both in terms of food production for kids and the way it is marketed as well as in education for parents, schools etc. Other countries prohibit marketing any item specifically to children. I would happen to agree with this approach. Again, while not being a parent, I can see where a tired parent might just get bowled over and give in to children who see Shrek on every container of snack food in the grocery aisles and just have to have it.  

 What do you think about this?

 The “reduced guilt” on the box of crackers was pretty obviously not meant for children, but it could be seen by reading age children and have them question what guilt means and why is it on a box of crackers? I myself looked at it and wondered why I should feel guilty about crackers that are overall, in moderation, a pretty healthy snack. Or, if I was really feeling guilty about food that that said something bigger overall about what was going on with me. Don’t get me wrong; I am sure we have all walked away from the table at some point feeling ick about what we ate, but for a food product to tell me its okay to feel less guilty just seems wrong.

Not as guilty crackers

Not as guilty crackers

 Considering my past experience with the issue of food marketing, this really opened my eyes, and I hope to research and write more about it. I would love to hear your thoughts; I have really just touched on it here, but I can imagine myself someday soon heading to a grocery store and spending lots of time just looking at how products are marketed.

Don’t worry Trader Joe, I still love you. I just think you need to choose your words more carefully next time.

  1. MarathonVal’s avatar

    Haha, you wrote on my wall about “poor Ed” and I was about 10 minutes behind real time (watching it on DVR) so you fooled me into thinking that she picked Reed and got rid of Ed!!! Lol.

    I was actually pretty shocked. I liked Ed decently enough (hey, gotta love a ChicAH-go man) but over time I felt like I liked him less and less, his personality didn’t wow me tons. Oh, well, it made for an entertaining episode!

    And I am equally disturbed and outraged about kids and junk food.. working in the inner city I see an enormous # of kids struggling with Type 2 diabes and obesity and while there are many factors to blame, marketing is a huge part of it!


  2. Lynn (The Actors Diet)’s avatar

    there’s a lot wrong with the trader joe’s marketing, though they seem to have that “we’re so PC we’re above it” attitude so i don’t feel like i have the right to be angry. but hey – i AM!!!


  3. burpexcuzme’s avatar

    Wow! you went to Todd English’s restaurant? WAY cool!
    And yeah, what is up with that marketing? I get pretty pissed off about that, too. unfortunately I see that everywhere, esp stupid magazines.


  4. Madison’s avatar

    Children are so attracted to colors and creativity when it comes to packaging–companies that embrace healthy food geared toward children need to adhere to that! But the sad thing is, ultimately the parents are making the purchases.
    At Operation Frontline, the nutritionist and I were talking about how much the children know about the food pyramid and healthy eating–yet they always talk about the foods their families eat every day–fried chicken, chinese food, fast food, bacon, etc. It is disheartening!


  5. Allie (Live Laugh Eat)’s avatar

    I sometimes have to think about the pricelessness of a certain event/outing in order to wrap my head around trading a workout+healthy eats for a fun night out. Just think of all the fun you had with you work friends celebrating the engagement! Plus you even walked! Butt kicking can come later :)

    As for packaging, we discussed this topic in my nutrition class last semester. There was a children’s granola bar that had omega-3s added and claimed it was good for brain health. Products targeted to children should have stricter regulations so they are not under the impression that they are making healthy decisions when they’re not. Ultimately it is up to consumers to make educated decisions and read between the lines. Unfortunately companies are taking advantage of those that are less aware about nutrition.


  6. leslie’s avatar

    i really love that you wrote this post. i’ve noticed that marketing slogan on a couple different trader joe’s products, and personally, it makes me not want to buy them. as someone who associated food and guilt far too much in the past, i have to wonder how much marketing campaigns such as these affected the struggles i had. it’s especially interesting what you said about children. if we want to raise children who won’t suffer from eating disorders, diabetes, or obesity, neither the trader joe’s words nor the cartoon characters are doing a thing to help.


  7. Lara (Thinspired)’s avatar

    Interesting. I am not sure I would have even noticed that! I don’t think it should be implied that we’ll feel guilty about any food we eat. Although I do like that company Guiltless Gourmet and their name doesn’t bother me. Is that a contradiction? I don’t know! Thanks for the thought-provoking post.


  8. traveleatlove’s avatar

    It’s so frustrating. I have worked with kids of all different socieoeconomic backgrounds, and in ALL of the different groups there have been kids eating cold McDonald’s in the car in the morning (children of two doctors!) What you do in getting the kids interested in cooking is so great; hopefully it will help their parents to become more aware too!


  9. traveleatlove’s avatar

    Oh no! I’m sorry. I didn’t get to watch it in real time either, so I didn’t know when I wrote on your blog. Lookin forward to seeing Jill and Ed together tonight!


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