Irritations of Modern Life: 14. Fat-Free Foods
Aside from The Independent, Annalisa Barbieri writes for the Economist's Intelligent Life magazine, and the New Statesman. A former contributing editor of the Independent on Sunday and fishing correspondent of the Independent, she is also patron of Rights of Women
Wednesday 09 September 1998
I understand the point of them. You feel like a naughty snack, you buy an XX per cent fat-free bar of chocolate, you eat it and bingo. No guilt. But not that much pleasure, either. And with not much pleasure comes frustration, and before you know it, there are three wrappers marked XX per cent fat- free stuffed down the side of the sofa.
For that you could have had a Mars Bar and felt satisfied, and your fingers would have been sticky with glorious full-fat chocolate. Instead you feel like a miserable failure.
A McVitie's chocolate biscuit has 23.9g of fat per 100g of product - 87 calories per biscuit. The Go-Ahead version has only 14g of fat per 100g, but it is still 55 calories per biscuit. Yes, I know it is not just the calories that matter but my point is that for an extra 22 measly calories you can lick the melting chocolate off a far-tastier-dunked-in-tea biscuit.
Jacob's launched its Vitalinea range a few months ago. Half-way through a packet of its Crispy Chocolate biscuits a colleague spluttered "Oh God. These still contain 16g of fat and I've just had 140 calories' worth of them" (although this did equate to 10 whole biscuits). All in the name of fat freeness, she would not even have been eating them if that wretched banner proclaiming XX per cent fat-free had not been scrolled across the wrapper. Because yes, doesn't it seem that just by eating them you are on the road to being fat-free?
Now take Entenmann's cakes. Hallelujah, I thought, when I saw its (95 per cent fat-free) Double Chocolate Muffins in Tesco. But it is a simple sum to calculate: little fat, little taste. We are all looking for a short cut; we all want to eat as much as we like but miraculously lose weight. I will let you in to a secret; my new book will be about this and it is called The Secret of Losing Weight. The first chapter is called "Food" and it says "Eat less and you will lose weight". The second (and final) chapter is called "Moving" and it says, "Move more and you will lose weight".
Of all the fat-free garbage we have been bombarded with the best was the Mars Light which, in fact, annoyingly, we were not bombarded with at all. After trialling it only in Wales and the West Country, Mars withdrew it. Bring it back! We would know where we were with this: a gorgeous Mars but with half the fat of the Marianne Faithfull variety.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
- 2 Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
- 3 These grandmas smoking weed for the first time are wonderful
- 4 Pastafarian former porn star Asia Lemmon allowed to wear colander in driving licence photo
- 5 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Better Call Saul: Breaking Bad spin-off gets release date, logo and ominous new trailer
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Willow and Jaden Smith talk duality of apples, holographic realities and the melancholia of the ocean in incredible New York Times interview
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Muslims pre-date Columbus in discovering America,' says Turkish president Erdogan
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Former Tory PM Sir John Major says 'we would not have an NHS without migrants'
G20 summit: David Cameron warns Vladimir Putin that Russia's relationship with the West is at a 'fork in the road' over Ukraine