On the heels of a night spent Halloween-partying, I was less-than enthused to learn that the United Kingdom is now considering putting calorie content labels on booze. (As if trying to fit into my Halloween costume wasn't depressing enough).
Obviously, food already comes with caloric information, but alcohol has yet to be put through the dietary ringer. However, UK doctors and UK Public Health Minister Jane Ellison are urging the government to take a look at the issue—especially since the UK is one of the most obese nations in the world, with about a quarter of adults considered obese.
The Royal Society for Public Health reports that a large 250 milliliter glass of wine with 8% alcohol count is 170 calories, while the same amount of wine with 14% alcohol content is 230 calories. The organization is trying to scare its alcohol-guzzling citizens by reminding drinkers that 180 calories is the equivalent of a bag of chips, while 200 calories is—oh no!—the equivalent of a donut.
You know what else is 200 calories? Less than a cup of granola or a serving of Greek yogurt and berries. And you don't see anyone changing their boozy ways over those comparisons.
And I don't think they should.
Yes, obesity can lead to debilitating diseases, and I do believe it's important to eat and drink in moderation. But whenever you do decide to eat a donut or have a glass of wine, do you really want to be worrying about the calories? I would hate to see the fine people of the UK, which prides itself on good beer—none of this Bud Light crap—turn into the kind of people who say "I really shouldn't be drinking this" every time they order a pint of Guinness.
Everyone seems to think labels are the answers to all our ills . . . but are we really thinking about what these labels are doing? They may be able to help you figure out which bag of chips is the least "unhealthy," or which ice cream is less sugary, but how much are they directly impacting our food choices? Research has shown that for food labels, at least, most people don't even sufficiently understand the information enough to make truly sound choices.
Devoid of actually being useful, all labels do is add a guilt trip to the ostensibly enjoyable eating experience. Most people are aware that donuts, cigarettes, chips and a glass of wine aren't the best choices; do we really need the constant reminder that we could be eating or drinking something better for us? Maybe I want to drink the equivalent of five donuts tonight, and I should be allowed to do that without feeling depraved, thankyouverymuch.
In the end, isn't happiness better than being thin? I'd like to think so.
That's why last night, I put on my tight Halloween costume and drank some sweet sweet calorie-loaded booze. And you know what? I may have a donut or two later, too.