What do you look for when you go shopping? A lot of you may just pick out the foods you enjoy and not take into consideration their contents. If this is you, start looking. If you do already look at the labels and nutritional facts of the foods you eat, are you doing it accurately?
What do you search for when looking at the nutritional facts? Total fat, calories, sugar, carbohydrates? These are all great things to look for especially if you are dieting or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, these nutritional values can be very misleading to the untrained eye.
When you look at the nutritional information of your favorite food item there is one crucial piece of information that you often over-look: serving size. The serving size is the individual portion of a food or drink. This piece of information is not listed among the other numbers that are the most looked at like fat, sugar, etc. Rather, it is next to those numbers in its own area. This is why it is frequently over-looked.
So, why is that even important? All those numbers that I have mentioned (fat, carbohydrates, etc.) are the exact amounts that are in a serving. When the nutrition label on ramen noodles, for example, says “Total Fat: 7g” this means there are seven grams of fat per serving. Now, when you go shopping and pick up ramen noodles and look at the fat you might say “seven grams isn’t that bad.” However, how many servings are there? I bet you didn’t know that one little pack of those ramen noodles was actually two servings, did you? In fact, it is.
My point for this is that nobody splits a package of ramen noodles! Every time you eat a package you are actually eating twice the amount that it says on the back. That means 14 grams of fat, 52 carbohydrates, and 1580 milligrams of sodium (66% of what you should have in a whole day) are in every package! This is a huge difference and is the reason why nutritional labels can be deceiving if you don’t know what to look for.
What are some other foods, like ramen noodles, that are individually packaged, that you may think are only one serving?
- Cans of soda are actually one and a half servings
- Bottles of gatorade are actually four servings
- Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and other similar cookies, even though not usually individually wrapped, are only two cookies to a serving
- A can of soup has two servings
- One slice of bread is actually a serving in itself as opposed to the two you would normally use for a sandwich
- A can of tuna, even though not bad for you, has two and a half servings
- A frozen Jack’s pizza has three servings. Have you ever seen three people split a frozen pizza and be satisfied? No Way!!
All of these things are deceiving. Even non-individualized items can surprise you with their serving sizes. Have you ever seen the true serving size (one cup) for cereal? I typically would eat about three times that amount. So, beware next time you go shopping or are about to eat a meal. Check out what you are REALLY about to eat. It might even deter you from eating something unhealthy.
For additional information and help on how to look at labels at the shopping market read this article.