Serving sizes may be getting an upgrade - on the nutrition labeling, that is.
The Food and Drug Administration is looking at bringing nutrition & serving size information labeling in line with how Americans really eat. Specifically, bringing nutrition labels for foods obviously meant to be one serving into line by forcing packaging to list that information for the entire package rather than splitting it into multiple "serving sizes."
Really, who has purchased a 20oz. Coke or one of those Starbucks cookies with the intention of only having 8oz. of soda or 1/4 of that cookie?
Quick quiz: How many chips are in a serving (150 calories, 1 oz.) of Doritos? Eleven. Yep, not even a dozen chips provides you with 12% of your daily intake of fat. And of course, who eats more than 11 Doritos in a sitting?
The food industry tries hard to keep the real caloric damage their foods do from the public.
For example, the FDA's serving for cookies is 30 grams, but cookies come in discrete units. If a "unit food" weighs at least half of the FDA's serving size, its label can use one unit as a serving. So if a cookie is 15 grams, then they can list one serving (around 80 calories) for one cookie instead of a standard unit (2 cookies - 30 grams) for 160 calories. Pay attention - if you don't, you might get excited, eat 4 cookies and down 320 calories before you can dust the crumbs off your shirt.
Think those little entree dishes are a good caloric value? Maybe, if you're willing to throw away 1/3 of your meal. The FDA uses a 1-cup measurement; most entree meals (like Stouffer's "single-serving" lasagna) are at least 1-1/2 cups. You're reading "370 calories, 7 grams saturated fat and 960mg of sodium," but you're actually eating 480 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat and 1,460mg of sodium (or more than half of your daily allowance for salt). Sneaky. Make your own lasagna instead.
When was the last time you were out to eat and had one cup of cooked pasta as your order? Typical restaurant servings run about 3-1/2 cups (and up to 6 cups at super-eateries like Olive Garden).
The food industry is going to fight this one, tooth and nail, you can be sure. After all, the explosion in sales of "100-calorie packs" has been a huge boon in making even cheaper, less nutritious food more expensive to purchase and easier to consume. The main ingredient in almost every 100-calorie pack? Oh yeah - High Fructose Corn Syrup! White flour, hydrogenated fats, modified corn starches. No protein, no fiber, no healthy fats, no minerals, no vitamins - pure, unadulatered profit. Take charge here by buying healthy snacks in bulk (unsalted almonds, raisins, dried fruit, bulk popcorn, cacao nibs) and portioning them yourself. Use a food scale - your body scale will thank you!