Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Serving Size

I must admit this is a very untimely post since we just finished the day long pig out known as Thanksgiving. It's no secret that American's have healthy appetites but it's probably due to the healthy serving sizes we give ourselves every meal and not even know it. Hopefully some of you find this helpful as we wrap up the eating season and eventually help with good eating habits.

In the two previous posts for the Nutritional Facts label I went over carbohydrate/sugar ratio in which sugar should account for less than 50% of total carbs. Then I followed it up with good fat/bad fat in which 20% of calories should come from fat and of that no more than 20% saturated fat. So far the example label has lived up to a pretty good food coming in with 16% sugars from total carbs. and only 3 grams of saturated fat. But the caveat here is "per serving".

All nutritional facts labels are set up on serving sizes. You'll notice in this label the serving size is 1 cup but there are two (2) servings per container. That basically means if you eat the entire container you have to double all the numbers listed on the Nutritional Facts label. The ratios don't change - meaning that the sugar/carb ratio is still good but your consuming twice as much sugar as you once thought. Now for the entire container instead of a measly 3 grams of sat. fat, you have doubled it and almost reached your limit of 11 grams per day. Having said that, Mac n cheese is still a pretty good food but in very small quantities.

Have you ever spent a day measuring all your food to correspond to the appropriate number of servings per day? Do you know what 4 oz of chicken looks like? How 'bout 1 ounce of cereal? Well it happens to be that 4 oz of chicken gives you one serving of the meat group and 1 ounce of cereal is one serving of bread group. I have spent an entire week measuring my food and to be quite honest I was shocked at how much I was actually eating. Granted I burn a ton of calories running and really shouldn't be skimping but if you're one that wants to lose weight then you better know what and how much you're eating.

I recommend two things if you want to eat healthy and/or lose weight: 1. Take one day out of your life and measure all your food to know what serving sizes look like and 2. Go to this website to find out what the appropriate number of servings for each food group is for you. It really does vary from person to person and is dictated by the different lifestyles we lead.

So in summary of all the Nutritional Facts label look for 3 things: Fat/saturated fat content keeping saturated fat to less than 20% of total fat. Next look at the sugar/carbohydrate ratio and make sure sugars account for less than 50% of all carbohydrates (measured in grams). And last look at the serving size and the amount of servings per container. Obviously there are other things on the label you need to look for, particularly if you have a medical condition, such as sodium for hypertension or fiber for diverticulitis. The main point is know what you're eating.

Thanks for reading
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