Just before I begin writing this article, while making myself a cup of coffee, I looked at the tin of Coffee-mate and out of curiosity, checked out nutritional information for their serving size which they claimed was one single teaspoon. Now, I don’t remember ever making do with just one teaspoon. I need at least two tablespoons otherwise my coffee will taste like muck. The label on the Fat Free Original Coffee-mate says one teaspoon (one serving size), is 10 calories and zero fat. I did for two tablespoon and came up with 50 calories and 1.6 grams of saturated fat. This set me thinking. I mean, two tablespoons of ordinary half and half would be like 2 grams of fat and about 40 calories. So why on earth was I taking Fat Free Original Coffee-mate?
Truth is serving sizes on food labels are often too unrealistic.
I could give you several other instances where the serving size mentioned on the label is just not realistic. In fact, all you need to do is walk through the nearest superstore and look at the labels on packaged food products. Look closely at the serving size information and you will know what I mean. Each product has a different concept of serving size. In fact, the ridiculousness of the serving size is inversely proportional to the unhealthiness of the product we are buying. So if the product is rich in fats and sodium, you can bet your bottom dollar, the serving size will be unrealistically miniscule.
The manufacturers take advantage of the fact that most people equate serving size with the entire contents of the tin or pack.
So when people read the label and see that one serving size is 10 calories they assume the entire tin of sardines or beans or soup or whatever is just 10 calories. Nothing to worry, right? If you fall for this trick, read about the difference between serving size and portion size…
Realistic depiction of serving size will alter the way we eat
I’m guessing here that if the serving size mentioned on food packages is made more realistic, our food habits would alter quite dramatically. For example, given that most Americans consume of pint of ice cream in one sitting and therefore if one serving size is depicted as one pint and nutritional values displayed accordingly, people will automatically consume less ice cream. All it takes is a few surveys by the government to be convinced that the current serving size mentioned on almost all food packages is unrealistic.
After all, what is the purpose of printing nutritional information on the food package if not to enlighten the consumer?
In the meanwhile, I caution all readers to read the nutritional information more carefully.