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"Healthy" Food Labels

Posted on 05/3/2011

The first known use of the word "healthy" was way back in 1552, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The word "healthy" conjures up goodness and wholesomeness. It also reminds us of what we should strive for, the best of the best, for our whole bodies. Some cringe at the mere word and shutter at the thought of "healthy" food.

I first used the word in 1996, when I changed the company's name from Diet Carry-Out to what it is today, Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating. Feeling this was more memorable and recognizable, not to mention, sounded way better and was correct for what we were and are doing...providing healthy, freshly prepared meals to help improve the eating habits and overall health of our clients, the switch was a 'no brainer.' From that day forward, it's been history ever since!

When I first started the company, I was worried about patients needing permission to go on the meal plan I created, just like they did for all those high-protein diets of the mid-80's. My husband and I would have a few patients a week ask us to sign off on a fad diet they wanted to go on. Having access to the best doctor I knew, my husband, I asked him, will we need our clients to get permission to go on the meals? He simply responded, "Why would you need to get permission to eat a healthy, balanced diet?" And, he continued, "Fad or crash diets are when people need permission from their doctors, since it leaves out food groups or concentrates too much on one or another." Wow! Healthy eating, who would have thought it. Back in the 80's nobody was really thinking about healthy eating. Nobody that is, except for me I guess. I was thinking about it morning, noon and night...and everywhere in between! I guess you can say, I've been thinking about healthy for a very long time, even before starting the company, when my own fathered battled with obesity and type II diabetes.

For twenty-five years, we've been making the healthiest meals possible. Adding new items, tweaking recipes and making sure everything we serve fits in the overall nutritional analysis for our 5-week menu rotation. When new nutrition recommendations are made, like when the American Medical Association suggested eating fish twice a week for optimal health benefits, we made changes to serve fish twice per week.

Turns out during that same time -- the last 25 years, the word healthy has increased in use. Now it is being bantered about casually and without much regard. However, we take the word very serious and strive to provide our clients with the healthiest meals possible...period! My name is on each and every meal served, and I stand behind them.

Today consumers are inundated with food labels shouting at them "healthy" from every direction of the grocery store aisles and in restaurants. It is also being shouted on television sets, radios, Internet, and every other direction from media.

What does it really mean any more? Has the word become generic like so many other words in our vocabulary? It seems to me it has. A word without meaning or definition.

The over-use of the word healthy also has consumers heads spinning and asking, what exactly is healthy? These potato chips? This soda? That entree'? And, on and on...'til the average consumer is doubting what is healthy and mistaking healthy items for unhealthy items.

All of this gets me to a recent report from researchers at the University of South Carolina that found that dieters were more likely to report an item on a menu as healthy if it were labeled as a salad rather than pasta, regardless of its ingredients, such as salami, pasta, cheese and etc. Even if the item contains 900 calories and 60 grams of fat. And, if the same dish was labeled as a pasta to some and salad to another group. These findings were reported in the Journal of Consumer Research.  Frightening, but true. I guess consumers need to do a better job of reading and informing themselves and realize just because something is called a salad, it may not be good for them because there is a great deal of trickery in marketing food. I don't understand why a company would want to do this, but it seems more the norm than the rarity. I'm so proud we label all our meals, and have done so for a very long time, we also include nutritional fact panels on each one and provide our clients with a detailed nutritional analysis. Check out our salads on our menu, they truly are salads!


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On a totally unrelated note, I couldn't help but not write about the Royal Wedding that took place last Friday. First of all, what a gorgeous, young couple! I want to wish them many years of wedded bliss. They seem to be very much in love. Her wedding gown was absolutely beautiful and reminded me so much of mine that I made in 1954...the similarities were amazing to me as I sat and watched their historic ceremony.  With this dress being so in the spotlight, I'm sure we'll see a trend in bridal dresses that are throwbacks to the 1950's and the "Grace Kelly era." Wonderful, if you ask me. I'm overjoyed that classic, traditional fashions never go out of style. In fact, all three of our daughters wore my wedding dress in their own weddings. I hope to locate photos and post them on my slide show. Check back to see if you spot our three daughters or me in the gown I sewed for less than $25. True, and I bet her dress cost much, much more than that!

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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