A week or two ago one of FitBeliever’s readers asked about a food product called “Skinny Cow” and whether or not it was healthy. Never having heard of the brand before, I too became curious and decided to do some research. What I found out about their products was surprising and actually a bit infuriating, given that the first word of their brand is Skinny.
Instead of waiting until the end of the post to deliver the “healthy or not” deliberation, I’m just going to come right out and say that the majority of Skinny Cow products are not healthy and if you are striving to eat a cleaner diet , this brand should be avoided.
I’m only going to use one of their products (they have a whole line of candy and ice cream) as an example, but for the most part, all of their foods contain artificial flavoring and preservatives, heaps of added sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
Before I start to talk about the ingredients and nutrition in their Vanilla & Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches, I want to mention that my definition of “healthy” means a reasonable amount of calories and fat, low sugar, no trans fat, and only natural ingredients. And by natural, I mean natural. Not, “Oh, pretend this is natural because the FDA said we could label it as natural.”
That being said, yes, the Skinny Cow Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches are low in calories and fat, but at what cost to the nutritional value of the overall product? Well, for less calories and fat you get about 35+ processed ingredients including, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, modified corn starch, propylene glycol monostearate, microcrystalline cellulose, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose… and the list goes on.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, each one has 15 grams of sugar, which isn’t completely terrible but is by no means healthy, especially when it’s coming from corn syrup and processed starch. Ew.
Now, let’s talk about why all of this is kind of infuriating. It’s mostly because of their use of the word “skinny.” So much of their marketing and branding strategy plays off of the consumer’s desire to be thin while still being able to indulge in “sinful” foods , when in reality, someone who is eating these products on a consistent basis will probably have a hard time reaching any of their weight loss goals.
This is some copy from their website’s homepage:
“Sinfully rich taste. Anything-but-skimpy portions.Yes, you can have it all, and seconds, too. So give yourself permission to indulge in new Skinny Cow™ chocolate candy and classic Skinny Cow™ ice cream snacks. You’ll find happiness in every bite.”
This is misleading for two reasons. First, you certainly can’t have seconds. Well, I mean, you totally can, but don’t remain under the impression that having two ice cream sandwiches (or whatever the snack is) will help you to maintain your current weight or shed any extra pounds. Second, yes you can find happiness in food if you approach it the right way, but it should not be your sole source of enjoyment and for some reason I just don’t like the way they’re telling you that “you’ll find happiness in every bite.”
What this all comes down to is, if you want ice cream, have ice cream, but just have the real thing! In my opinion it would be better to eat the extra calories that are in real, natural ice cream than to go after some low-fat, artificial, misleadingly marketed excuse for a dessert. In fact, it’s pretty easy to make your own!
So, will Skinny Cow desserts make you skinny? No. Are they healthy? No. Are they mostly made with lots of ingredients that we’d rather not ingest? Yes. And most importantly, do I want a huge bowl of ice cream after reading, writing, and thinking about this for over an hour? YES!