The Bakery Exposé

Is your breakfast muffin or bagel a PointsPlus® values disaster? Here's how you can tell.
The Bakery Exposé
Whether it's a regular component of your daily PointsPlus Target, or something you save your weekly PointsPlus Allowance for, bakery items can be deceiving. Sure, it may look and sound healthy, but if your bran muffin is covered with nuts and seems large enough to feed a family of five, you might be getting more than you bargained for.
"Bakeries are supersizing breakfast," says Janet Helm, MS, RD. "They're trying to make us feel as though it's okay to eat a simple muffin for breakfast." But the reality is, it's as though we're eating cake — or a glorified dessert — early in the morning.
So just how big should that muffin be? Think of a 12-hole muffin tin and then imagine a muffin that's the same size as the hole — without flopping over the top. Or, envision a baseball. Bagels should be no bigger than that, too. (A small frozen bagel is about the right size.) "Most bagels you buy at a deli are twice that size," says Helm. "Some are like eating four or six slices of white bread."

You Be the Judge
Size isn't the only issue with these items. Many bakeshops make their own line of treats that do not come wrapped up with Nutrition Facts Labels. In this case, signs and ingredient stickers don't always seem to speak the truth. What the bakery might describe as low in fat and healthy could mean something else to you entirely. To determine if these baked goods actually merit a healthful report card, heed Helm's advice:
  • Read ingredient labels for healthy fat replacers like applesauce or pureed fruit.
  • See if the item contains oats or dried or fresh fruit. In other words, does it contain something more nutrient-worthy than just white flour and sugar?
  • Is it made from whole-wheat flour? Or another grain hinting at higher fibre?
  • If ingredients are listed, is butter or oil listed near the bottom, implying that not too much was used? (As of January 2003, Manufacturers in Canada are now under legal obligation to list ingredients, even though this law has not taken full effect yet. Your local baker may also be exempt from that requirement.)
  • Is it loaded with nuts or chocolate chips, which are high in PointsPlus values?
  • Lastly, don't forget to check out its dimensions, watching out for oversized portions.
PointsPlus values Revealed
Bakery items that list their calories, fat and fibre have much less to hide. If you are suddenly shocked by the value of your favourite, don't despair. Nothing's off-limits if you plan for it. "You have to eat what you love and love what you eat," states Helm. In that case, split a muffin with a friend or opt for a mini one (if it's an option) and round it out with yogurt or some fresh fruit.
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