August 4, 2003
"What do a tennis ball, hockey puck and deck of playing cards
have in common? This unusual combination represents the equivalent
serving sizes of some important food groups in your daily diet. A
portion of fruits or vegetables the size of a tennis ball is the equivalent
of one serving, or about 20 percent of the "five a day"
recommended servings. Half a bagel the size of a hockey puck represents
one serving from the grain food group. Three ounces of protein is
about the size of a deck of playing cards, according to Sandra Bastin,
Extension food and nutrition specialist at the University of Kentucky
College of Agriculture."
While those guidelines make
it easier to compare a person's food consumption with the food guide
pyramid, how do they compare with the "serving size" that
is listed on packaged foods?
"Consumers are interested
in knowing how much and what type of foods to eat for continued or
improved health. Two federal nutrition education tools use standard
serving sizes: the Food Guide Pyramid and the Nutrition
Facts label. The Pyramid was released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) in 1992. The Nutrition Facts label, which is under the regulation
of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been required on
virtually all food labels since August 1994. While both tools contain
serving sizes that are standard•thus enabling nutritional and caloric
comparisons of similar foods•serving sizes for a particular food are
not necessarily the same between the Pyramid and the Nutrition Facts
label. Attempts to directly compare Pyramid and label servings may,
therefore, generate confusion...."
"At the top of each
food label you'll see a serving size amount. The serving size is the
amount of the food you would need to eat to get the amount of listed
nutrients. These quantities are based on the amount people generally
eat according to standards set by the FDA. Serving sizes are not necessarily
recommended amounts, but common ones. All of the nutritional information
on the package is based on one listed serving size. Remember that
the package may contain several servings. For example, if you eat
a whole bag of chips that contains three servings, you have eaten
three times the amount of calories and other nutrients listed on the
package for one serving."
For example, while the Food
Guide Pyramid lists "[h]alf a bagel the size of a hockey puck"
as one serving size, many bagel packages and nutrition websites
list nutritional information per bagel. "Cinnamon Raisin Bagel/
1 bagel/ 311 [calories]"
And when was the last time
you had pizza? A single slice of Pizza Hut* pizza contains over 600
calories (over 700 if it's Meat Lover's®). How often do people
generally stop after one slice of pizza? Does is take two slices to
make a meal? Maybe three or more? Just two slices of Meat Lover's®
pizza will bring fat totals to 62 grams (96% of the recommended daily
total). While three slices of plain cheese pizza bring in less fat
at 69 grams, they bring in 1,920 calories (what some people should
eat in an entire day).
Calories From Fat
(Note 18 Aug. 2006: For current info, please see: http://www.pizzahut.com/menu/nutritioninfo.asp.)
Questions of the Week:
When was the last time you checked the serving size on your favorite
snack food? How many servings do you usually consume in one sitting?
Do the math. What does it mean? How can an awareness of serving size
help you to continue to enjoy the food you like with balance and moderation?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum