On a package of dry pasta and sauce, you will read that a prepared serving contains “only” 180 calories. But be cautious before you eat the entire box! When you take a closer look at the nutrition label, you will notice that one package actually contains four servings totalling 720 calories! What?!
The all too common trap: the number of calories per serving rarely corresponds to the entire content of the package. Very few people are actually satiated after eating the serving size recommended by the manufacturer. It is therefore important to carefully evaluate the real amount of food you ingest in order to estimate your actual calorie intake.
According to a small study, even when people consider serving sizes, they most often underestimate the actual numbers of servings they have ingested. In this study, only one third of the people who were questioned accurately estimated the quantity of sugar ingested after drinking a serving of 600 mL (approx. 20 oz.) of soft drink. Only one third of the participants actually realized that this serving size really represents two and a half portions, which obviously increases by the same amount, the calories absorbed! Throughout the study, similar mistakes were also made with other foods (bagels, microwave dinners, peanut butter, ice cream, cookies and candies) and that, even if most of the participants admitted to regularly reading the nutrition labels on food packaging.
Here is another example that can undoubtedly confuse anyone: a small bag of a popular brand of chips contains 75 grams, but the nutritional value on the package is calculated for 50 grams! Wham, bamboozled! Instead of ingesting 280 calories, the chip-lover who eats an entire small bag ingests 420 calories! That calorie intake is in fact a quarter of the daily-recommended value. Huge difference!
As packaging sizes incessantly get bigger, it confuses our understanding of food nutrition labels and portion sizes. To avoid getting caught, be extra vigilant when calculating your food portions and at the same time, the actual amount of calories you ingest in one meal.
It is worth repeating: always read food labels very, very carefully!