Por­tion con­trol is cru­cial in the war against weight gain. But are the serv­ing sizes on la­bels a help or a hin­drance?

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - SHOPPING -

You’ve just pol­ished off a small tub of yo­ghurt, think­ing it was a sin­gle serve. How­ever, on closer in­spec­tion of the la­bel, you are sur­prised to dis­cover that the tiny tub ac­tu­ally con­tained two serves, so you’ve un­wit­tingly eaten twice the kilo­joules. Sound fa­mil­iar?

Food man­u­fac­tur­ers tweak their prod­ucts’ serv­ing sizes to suit what­ever claim they want to make on the la­bel. Take break­fast ce­real, for in­stance. A stan­dard serve of any given brand may be 30g (about two-thirds of a cup), whereas another brand’s is 50g. Now 30g is prob­a­bly much less than the amount most of us pour into our brekkie bowls, but the nutri­tion in­for­ma­tion panel makes the ce­real seem like a health­ier choice. Why? Be­cause a smaller serve pro­vides fewer kilo­joules and less sugar. Mean­while, the other brand’s more gen­er­ous 50g serve lets its la­bel boast “more fi­bre per serve than other break­fast ce­re­als”, which is en­tirely true, sim­ply be­cause you’re eat­ing more of it. Size up your serves Years ago, serv­ing sizes were much less var­ied. A slice of any bread weighed 30g, con­ve­niently giv­ing you 15g of car­bo­hy­drates (one por­tion of carbs) and mak­ing carb count­ing much eas­ier if you had di­a­betes. To­day, a slice of bread can weigh any­thing from 30 to 48g. Fruit bread, or raisin toast, is a par­tic­u­larly tricky trap.

LOOK AT THE DIF­FER­ENCES AMONG SERV­ING SIZES! A tra­di­tional loaf gives you 65g in two slices, while a caféstyle loaf gives you 65g in one su­per­size slice, a doorstep of bread that’s 2cm thick.

Even the same prod­uct can have dif­fer­ent serv­ing sizes; it all de­pends on the size of the pack­ag­ing. Yo­ghurts and desserts are among the most mis­lead­ing prod­ucts be­cause you’re buy­ing one lit­tle tub, so you think you’re eat­ing a sin­gle serve; how­ever, one tub of­ten con­tains two serves. The bot­tom line To en­sure you’re eat­ing only one serve, weigh your usual por­tion of a food to see how it com­pares with the serv­ing size on its la­bel.



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