Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Dieters move past calories; food makers follow

By: CANDICE CHOI The Associated Press
April 15, 2014 Updated: April 15, 2014 at 8:50 am
0
photo - FILE - This Jan. 31, 2006 file photo, boxes of Kellogg's Special K cereal are on display at a supermarket in an Omaha, Neb. The fixation on calorie counts that defined dieting for so long is giving way to other considerations, like the promise of more fiber or natural ingredients. The shift is chipping away at the popularity of products like Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine, Special K and Yoplait Light, which became dieting staples primarily by virtue of being calorie-stripped alternatives to people’s favorite foods. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
FILE - This Jan. 31, 2006 file photo, boxes of Kellogg's Special K cereal are on display at a supermarket in an Omaha, Neb. The fixation on calorie counts that defined dieting for so long is giving way to other considerations, like the promise of more fiber or natural ingredients. The shift is chipping away at the popularity of products like Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine, Special K and Yoplait Light, which became dieting staples primarily by virtue of being calorie-stripped alternatives to people’s favorite foods. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) 

Obsessing over calories alone has left dieters with an empty feeling.

The calorie counting that defined dieting for so long is giving way to other considerations, such as the promise of more fiber or natural ingredients. That is chipping away at the popularity of products such as Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine and Special K, which became weight-watching staples primarily by stripping calories from people's favorite foods.

Part of the problem: "Low-calorie" foods make people feel deprived. Now, people want to lose weight while still feeling satisfied.

And they want to do it without foods they consider processed.

Kelly Pill has been dieting since her son was born in 1990. But the 54-year-old resident of Covina, Calif., made changes to her approach in recent years. She doesn't eat Lean Cuisine microwavable meals as often because she doesn't find them that filling. She also switched to Greek yogurt last year to get more protein.

"Regular yogurt is really thin," Pill said. "It was low in calories, but it wasn't filling."

It's not that people don't care about calories anymore. Nutrition experts still say weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you eat.

But dieters are sick of foods that provide only fleeting satisfaction and seem to make them hungrier.

The new thinking is that eating foods with more protein or fat will make dieters less likely to binge later, even if they're higher in calories.

"People are recognizing that it's not enough to just go on a diet and lose weight. Nutrition comes more into play," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group.

Perhaps most emblematic of calorie counts as a marketing gimmick are the 100-calorie snacks that flooded the market a decade ago. Some food companies are retreating from the strategy.

In the past four years, sales of 100-calorie snack packs of Oreos have plummeted 72 percent, according to IRI. Parent company Mondelez International Inc. also has pruned varieties from its 100-calorie lineup and now offers only four.

Mondelez spokesman Richard Buino said the company is focusing on healthy snacks that are about "more than an arbitrary calorie amount."

Frito-Lay also made its last shipment of 100-calorie pack Cheetos and Doritos this past summer. The chip maker's new "ready-to-go" packs still have about 100 calories, but the trait is no longer advertised on the bag's front.

The sales declines for diet brands are a reminder that what's in vogue today might also eventually be seen as marketing gimmicks.

In fact, Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer at Weight Watchers, points to a pitfall: The belief that a food is wholesome is sometimes used to justify eating too much, she said - in other words, consuming too many calories.

"Just because something is simple doesn't mean it's going to give you your desired weight loss," she said.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.