It’s very difficult nowadays for the average person to make healthy food choices. And there’s a good reason for this: product manufacturers want you to buy at all costs.
As such, they use every trick in the book to persuade you to put their wares in your shopping cart. But one of them stands head and shoulder above the rest.
It’s what I call “the nutritional weapon of mass destruction” – otherwise known as the serving size. The fact that there are no standards when it comes to serving sizes allows a company to make it as big or as small as they want.
Naturally, they keep it as small as possible. Why?
Simple: by keeping the serving size small, everything else becomes smaller: calories, grams of fat, sugar, etc… And the average person will pick up a product, turn it over to look at the nutrition label, see that it’s low in calories, fat, or whatever… and decide to buy it. But take a gander at the image below:
It’s the nutrition label for Oreo cookies. 160 calories per serving – not many at first glance – until you realize that the serving size is only 3 cookies! Now, personally I can’t just eat 3 cookies, can you? So, while you think you’re having a harmless snack, you’re actually bombing yourself with a huge amount of calories (and the worst kind, mind you).
But it gets worse. Small serving sizes allow companies to (legally) plaster all kinds of claims on their packages – claims that fool many consumers into thinking they’re making healthier choices. For example:
- Low calorie (less than 40 calories per serving)
- Low fat (less than 3 grams of fat per serving)
- Fat free (less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving)
- Sugar free (less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving)
The latter two examples are the most ridiculous. You’d figure something that’s fat and sugar free wouldn’t contain fat and sugar, right? Not so – the FDA allows manufacturers to make these claims provided their product contains less than 0.5 gram per serving. But again – there are no rules on how small that serving can be!
Sneaky, sneaky stuff. Fortunately, you now know how to protect yourself from such trickery. So, next time you’re in the supermarket pay close attention to the nutrition label of a food you’re considering to buy or comparing to another. Perhaps even bring your calculator. It’s the only way to make an apples to apples comparison, and hence, an informed and healthy decision.