It seems as though being healthy is all the rage nowadays. With magazine covers and weight-loss commercials shouting ways to get in better shape at you, it’s hard to escape the endless calorie counting, diet talk and workout videos.

Now, this alone isn’t too much of a bad thing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being aware of what you are putting into your body. Most nutrition labels are great at informing people about their food choices and encouraging them to eat healthier and exercise. After all, eating well and exercising is fantastic.

But, if you ask me, some labels may have gone too far. This new type of nutrition label may have crossed the line.

Here’s what the labels look like:



= 1.5 MILE RUN


Photo by Rebecca Block

While these “exercise equivalent” labels may seem legit, they are actually extremely misleading.

Mathematically they do make sense. If you want to burn off a 500 calorie steak dinner, you would have to walk about 5.2 miles. But this paints a dismally painful picture of why we eat. It gives the impression that people should only eat if they just did or are planning to do some exercise in order to compensate for what they are eating. If you based all of your meal choices off of this, you would begin to think that you should only be allowed to eat if you’ve done the proper amount of exercise that day.


Photo by Isabelle Chu.

Just being alive consumes calories.

If you were to sit at your desk all day and watch Netflix, you would still need to eat. Why is that? Because your body burns calories just preforming normal functions like breathing and using your brain. The average inactive male college student needs between 2,400 and 2,600 calories a day. For sedentary college-aged women, this number is around 2,000 calories. And if you exercise, this number only goes up.


Photo by Rebecca Block

So here’s what the labels should say:




By leaving this part out, the labels fool people into worrying about exercise and calories. So, yeah, a 500-calorie steak dinner may seem like a lot considering you would have to walk almost 21 laps around a track to burn it off. But if you actually walked that far, you would have to go eat three or four more 600-calorie meals in order to keep your body functioning properly.

If you ask me, listing the amount of exercise needed to burn off eating a single Snicker’s bar or a handful of blueberries really only causes a lot of unnecessary guilt to a person who just wants to enjoy their snack.


Photo by Isabelle Chu

Food-related guilt isn’t very healthy.

By forcing someone to consider the effort that they would have to give in order to “deserve” a meal, these labels shame them for trying to fuel their body. They imply that for every food, dessert or drink that someone eats, they need to be doing exercises to burn off those calories if they don’t want to gain weight.

While these labels imply that we should be afraid of the calories we are eating, the reality is just the opposite. We should be striving to eat our daily recommended calorie intake. Our bodies need it.

So next time you open up your stash of Halloween candy, go for it. You should be able to recklessly enjoy all of your Halloween candy and all of your other meals too without having to think too much. Eat the food you want and deserve, because food is awesome. That’s all there is to it.

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