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Hi HG!

I'm from Canada and I'm very confused when it comes to our Fibre 1 cereal (the plain kind). I know in the U.S. it's called Fiber One, it's sweetened with aspartame, and it has 60 calories per serving. But here in Canada, Fibre 1 is sweetened with Splenda and contains 100 calories per serving! I wish I could purchase the 60-calorie version, but I've yet to come across it where I live. So what's the deal with this? Are these cereals exactly the same? Are the formulas different? I'm so confused!

F1 Challenged
Dear F1 Challenged,

I have good news, but it might be a little confusing! Here's the scoop...

Despite the difference in sweeteners and the varying calorie counts on the boxes, the cereals are basically the same nutritionally. They each have pretty much the same amounts of fat, carbs, protein, etc. The real difference lies in each country's labeling guidelines regarding FIBER. Because calories from insoluble fiber are not considered digestible (in other words, they don't matter), there's no requirement in the U.S. for food companies to include those calories in the total listed on nutritional labels. In Canada, the rules are different -- companies ARE required to factor in those calories from fiber. The calorie count on any nutrition label is more or less the sum of three things -- calories from fat (9 per gram), calories from carbs (4 per gram), and calories from protein (4 per gram). Here's where the fiber issue comes in. Fiber is actually a carb, so the calories from carbs INCLUDE calories from fiber. Since U.S. labels don't count those, the fiber grams get subtracted from the total carbs when calculating the calories. That's why the F1 (original) labels in the U.S. say 60 calories per serving while the ones in Canada say 100. Bottom Line! Your 100-calorie cereal is digested the same exact way as the 60-calorie version. It's just the numbers on the box that are different. If you have trouble grasping the whole concept behind this (it IS pretty confusing!), share this email with a few friends... then see if you guys can make sense of it together. And if you have any more Qs, ask away!

Hungry Girl,

Please settle an issue for my friend and me. She says that something needs to contain fat in order for it to be "fattening." I say there are plenty of fattening foods that don't contain any fat at all. She says that the word fattening means that something HAS FAT in it. I say no way. Help, HG!

Just the Fat Facts, Please
Dear Just the Fat Facts,

Okay, wanna know who's right? Drumroll, please........... It's YOU!!!! Your friend is mistaken. But I have heard this before. People think the definition of the word fattening is "containing fat." But the word actually means "to make plump or fat." Granted, stuff with lots of fat in it (a.k.a. FATTY stuff) is often fattening, but that's only because it likely contains a lot of calories. (There are 9 calories in every fat gram, whereas protein and carbs only have 4 calories per gram.) But regardless of the fat content, things with a lot of calories can be fattening because eating more calories than you burn is what causes weight gain. So something that is completely fat-free but high in calories -- like regular soda or sugary candy -- can absolutely be fattening as well. Hope that clears things up for you guys!

Today, April 15th, is both Tax Day and National Glazed Ham Day, and this week is National Egg Salad Week. Right after you mail in your income taxes, celebrate with a glazed ham & egg salad wrap. Okay, maybe not...
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