Thursday, August 30, 2007

A humble plea regarding portion size nutritional info

As a lifelong diabetic (Type 1, haters!), I find myself increasingly frustrated with the nutritional information listed on the back of every food item I purchase. To sum up: the labels are laughable when it comes to describing how much of their contents constitutes a single serving, and I can't help but think that this contributes, in some small part, to the obesity problem in our country.

As with all blog posts since time began, my post will not rely on any scientific data, but rather on a series of personal experiences. Got that? Ok. Here's my first example: I went to the friendly food purchasing area at my place of employment and found a bag of pretzels. Yum, pretzels. Who doesn't like pretzels? Moreover, these were Snyder's JalapeƱo pretzel pieces, which are, quite frankly, freakishly awesome. So, as I always do, I checked out the nutrional information on the back to ensure that my soon-to-be-ingested foodstuffs would not send me into a death-spiral of ketoacidosis induced kidney failure. And, to my delight, each serving had but 20 carbohydrates, and 150 calories. Yay! Do-able. But then, d'oh, I notice that the rather small bag has FOUR servings. What? Seriously?

Delicious...but deadly

Example two, my new favorite food from Trader Joe's the turkey sausage stromboli. A delightful mixture of spiced sausage, tomato sauce, and assorted flavorings inside a calzone-like dough. Truly delicious. Each serving has something like 250 calories and 35 carbs. Ok, great, quite reasonable. But, again, d'oh!--each single stromboli (about 5" long) is two servings.

This is the problem: nobody on earth is going to do anything but eat an entire stromboli, and nobody is going to buy a single bag of pretzel pieces and not eat the whole thing. I like the nutritional information requirements, but people need to be more realistic about what actually constitutes a serving. I can't help but think that people are faked out to some degree by the low calorie/carb numbers, and don't really get around to noticing how many servings they are ingesting. I suspect that folks would be less likely to eat the entire bag if they knew that the whole thing contained 600 calories and nearly 80 carbs.