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Why Serving Size Is Bogus

Posted on 19th May, 2011 by Andrea Cutright
One Serving

According to a survey by the American Dietetic Association, the majority of us tend to underestimate the amount of food we eat, and with good reason: servings sizes are bunk.

Serving size is a choice — it’s how much you or I choose to eat — and it’s any food creator’s choice to say how many servings are in a package or recipe. It seems that often the number of servings is increased to make something appear healthier. That’s especially misleading. Take this example: a pint of Ben & Jerry’s is 4 servings — because, um, it’s so easy to stop at 1/2 a cup (not).

That’s why Foodily chose to show the totals for each recipe, so you can make a consistent comparison across recipes from a variety of sources and make your own choice on servings.

There isn’t a standard portion size, not yet anyway, so it’s up to each of us to understand that food labels can be misleading. We’re not all up on Michael Pollan’s primer on better eating, but we can all stop being fooled by serving sizes and be healthier.

Top 5 Ways To Not Worry About Serving Size And Still Eat Healthy:

1. It's not about filling your plate; it's about filling your stomach. Consider this: an adult stomach should max out at about one liter or 32 ounces of food and drink.

2. Each meal, try to eat foods that are three different colors. It's the easiest way to make sure you're eating more from the bottom of the food pyramid.

3. Cut back on liquid calories -- sodas, sports drinks, fruit drinks and smoothies -- or count them as part of your meal. USDA's serving size for these drinks fits in a small coffee cup.

4. Adjust portion sizes a little each day: decrease the portion size of an unhealthy food by a little and replace it with a slightly larger serving of something healthier.

5. Understand grams since that's what's on a nutrition label -- USDA says an average meal weighs about 200 grams. There are about three calories per gram, so an average meal accounts for about 600 calories.

Andrea Cutright is the CEO of Foodily.

Food, we love you.

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Comments (2)

  1. 19th May 2011
    by Phillip

    For those of you who are wondering about Michael Pollan – “Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” via http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20090323/7-rules-for-eating

  2. 20th May 2011
    by Gudrun

    Portion control is half the battle in eating a healthy diet. Sometimes I just use a smaller plate at dinner. Also, I serve myself in the kitchen, rather than family style at the table, where I would tend to eat more. And your fourth point is right on – I make sure my plate has a greater ratio of good stuff to not-so-good stuff (all food is good, just in moderation!).

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