Wednesday, July 21, 2010


If you are eating food with a label, you understand how to read the serving size on the label. The serving size helps us know how many calories are contained in how much of the food. For example, the serving size for Oreo cookies is 3 cookies which total 160 calories.

How were serving sizes derived and what are they based on? Unfortunately, the answer isn't very scientific and the results could be contributing to our epidemic of overeating. To make matters worse the serving size information on labels can differ from the information contained in the USDA's food pyramid. The serving size on food labels in based on: "typical portion sizes (from food consumption surveys), ease of use, nutrient content, and tradition (of use in previous food guides). For some food groups, certain factors were given more emphasis than others." If you'd like the details, read this from the FDA.

Tradition? Ease of use? Perhaps it is just me, but I think it would be nice if there was some baseline of facts and consistency in how they are applied. We are teaching consumers to read labels, which is better than nothing, but please don't expect the labels to be accurate. The real message here is we cannot rely on what we are told, even from our Government agencies.

Yes, food labels can be useful and provide some information. Being partially informed is better than ignorance. Of course, we know to avoid food that has labels or comes in a box. Eating whole food (aka things that used to breathe), as it arrives from nature, is key. The very best way to Eat. is to explore what kinds of nature's foods, and in what quantities work best for you.

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