Our writer, Joann DiFabio-Klinkner is all about building awareness of what makes up the food we eat. Are you someone who accepts the unhealthy additives which go into the products we eat, or do you choose to read and understand the nutrition labels on these products? Joann educates us on ingredients and nutrition information so we can easily remember what is harmful to our bodies and what is not. What we eat can, in the short term, affect our mood and our energy, and in the longer term can have a major affect on our health. Over the next few months we’ve partnered with Mediterranean Snacks ® to join them on their mission to educate, engage and influence consumers to continue to make healthier choices when it comes to the foods and snacks they eat.
Calories, Fat, and Serving Size
Reading a nutrition label seems pretty straightforward. Manufacturers make them pretty fairly easy to read these days. They even bold the things people most commonly look for when they glance at the label in the store before they buy it. So by now you probably think you’ve got it nailed. But sometimes a closer look will reveal some undesirable information that some food manufacturers display in a rather sneaky way.
The most common thing consumers look for when they pick up a product and look at the nutrition label is the calories and total fat, both of which are typically bold on the nutrition label. So you may very quickly see 110 calories and 2 grams of fat and think, “Oh, this is a great snack!” What most consumers forget to look at after the calories and fat is the serving size.
Serving size plays an important role in the quality of a snack. Serial dieters and health nuts alike will agree that awareness of portion and serving size is key to maintaining a healthy weight. So when a seemingly healthy granola bar boasts only 110 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving, take a look at the serving size. Is it a full bar? Or is it only a half bar? Now your calories just shot up to 220 and your fat shot up to 4 grams for one granola bar, because who is going to eat only half of a granola bar? Not so healthy anymore, is it?
Another sneaky tactic that some food manufacturers will use is to display the serving size in grams only. Unless you are doling out your food onto a kitchen scale, you probably don’t know how many crackers will equal 30 grams. Odds are, you’ll be eating double the serving size without even realizing it.
Another thing to watch out for on nutrition labels is the amount of calories from fat in a single serving. The total calories in a serving size are a combination of calories from fat, calories from carbohydrates, and calories from protein. You want to look for products that have a low-total-calories-to-fat-calories ratio. This means that the majority of the calories are not coming from the fat content. For example, if peanut butter has 180 calories and 16 grams of fat per serving, but 140 of those calories are coming from fat, then it is a high-fat food. If black beans have 110 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving, but only 10 calories are coming from fat, then it is a low-fat food.
The news about calories, fat, and serving size isn’t totally dismal, though. Truly healthy snacks don’t need to be sneaky on their nutrition labels. As a consumer, you just need to be savvy enough to differentiate the “tricks” from the real treats.
Here are a couple tips for selecting the perfect snack from the bunch.
1) Look at the serving size. If you’re picking up a box of granola or cereal bars and the fat and calories seem too good to be true, odds are the serving size is only half of one bar. When foods are packaged in a box but individually wrapped, always check the serving size to be sure that one serving equals exactly one individually wrapped product.
2) Check the nutrition label for an approximation of product per serving size grams. If a serving size is 30 grams, look for parentheses next to the serving size to say “approximately 14 chips.” That way you know approximately how many chips or crackers are in one serving and you are less likely to eat more than one serving.
3) Remember that we do need some fat in our diet and you can easily learn about good fat vs. bad fat. According to WebMD, fat provides essential fatty acids, keeps our skin soft, delivers fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energizing fuel. Check out WebMD or Google to learn more about good vs. bad fats.
4) Balance is key in your daily life when it comes to calories, serving size, and fat intake. Not one body is the same, so it’s important not to compare your body’s nutrients to somebody else. You should also discuss with your physician before making any decisions about your diet.
When comparing packaged foods, it’s good to do a side-by-side comparison of the nutrition labels. Most consumers want a product that gives you more bang for your buck in terms of serving size vs. fat and calories. If you have a choice between two similar products that have the same fat and calories per serving, but one product’s serving size is double the other product, you’re going to want the product with the bigger serving size.
Take a look at Mediterranean Snacks as an example. All of Mediterranean Snacks, Baked Lentil Chips ® offer 22 chips per 1oz serving size and are calorically smart with only 110-130 calories per serving (depending on flavor).
Connect with Mediterranean Snacks on Facebook for a chance to WIN some snacks and grab their exclusive coupon for Identity fans on our Deals4You page!
Copyright © 2013 Mediterranean Snacks ® and S&J Identity, Inc.
i like the article, it's very insightful and gives you great tips for shopping in the grocery store. most people do just look at serving size and calories but not calories from fat which is important
good to keep in mind.. pick a snack good in nutritional value,, look at the fat, calorie intake and serving size of the item!
Would love to win..ty 🙂
Thanks for this informative article.
The article pointed out an important fact that serving size needs to be checked for the calories and fat that are in a product.
I have noticed a half package for a serving size on what you would think is an individual serving. It is nice when they put 2 bars in the package, so you can just pull one out, and save the other one for later.
I love the point, " Remember that we do need some fat in our diet"/ It is so true. I dieted once and my hair started falling out from lack of fat.
I love this – Balance is key in your daily life when it comes to calories, serving size, and fat intake.
I like the discussion of balance – unless there is a medical reason for not eating something (gluten/lactose intolerance, etc) then you need to balance it!
Good things to keep in mind. I always get confused when it comes to service sizes. Love your tips.
Comparing nutrition labels of similar food products is a great tip. There are a lot of name brand and generic companies that are all trying to produce the same item, but some companies will take shortcuts to reach the finished product so comparing labels is a great tip to figure out which brand is best for you.
This is a great article. So many great tips on picking the perfect snack. Thanks!
Nutrition labels base their percentage on a 2000 calorie diet. Be careful not to use the percentage if you're on a diet with less calories a day.
Great article to make healthier choices!
The Sea Salt variety sounds amazing.
Thanks for the article and the facts you have shared about eating healthy and knowing how to read the labels correctly.
i like the article it was interesting and I learned a lot from it, it gives great tips
This is a very informative article concerning the nutrition labels. Balance is key when it comes to calories, serving size, and fat intake. It is a great it to do a side-by-side comparison of the nutrition labels. That way you are less likely to eat more than one serving during.
I always read nutrition labels on the products I buy, I pay close attention to portion size & even bought a digital kitchen scale to weigh foods so I know for sure I'm eating the right portions.
I always read my labels. Thanks for the info about tricky labels.
Interesting. But I think you may be surprised at how "savvy" many shoppers are these days in looking at the portion size before settling on a purchase. We had to do that many years ago with our T1D (Juvenile Diabetes) child. Thanks for the article.
Great article! Portion control and other label information is key!
Serving size is something I really have to watch. Portion control is not my friend!
love the balance tip…thanks for the article!
I so agree…people tend to think "fat free" means better for us…when that is not always the truth. It's all about the balance. Thanks for the informative article!
Nice magazine…very informative..thanks
It helps a lot to understand the difference between calories and fat content
very interesting! Thank you!
The article really opened up my mind and I know so much more on reading nutrition labels now . Very nice
Very informative and educating. Thanks
This makes me more aware of portion size and fat ratio.
Informative about the serving sizes.
I liked the part which I aready do about "comparing packaged foods, itâ€™s good to do a side-by-side comparison of the nutrition labels".
i always compare labels and nice to see i am doing something right:) i am taking away so much good information from this article,. Thank you!!
Good info thanks !
fantastic and full of information
I agree serving sizes are so hard to stick to
I thank you for the information. I don't know how they can get away with fooling us about less fat. I think that somethings just have fat and you know that when you eat them. There is so much that contributes to inflammation today. Thanks again for the great article!
Learned new things about the fat ratio just looked at the carbs an sugar before thanks for the tips am hope to win your snacks
this looks great, thanks for the advice and tips!
Compare nutrition labels and know they just made changes to them.
I always check out the nutrition label and now I can really make a more informed choice, thanks to this helpful article!
The information about serving size is so point on! It can be misleading for a company to advertise that a product is only so many calories, then you see that it's for 6 or 7 chips….and no one only eats that many. I like the section about balance too, I believe in balancing. If I have birthday cake (like today) I cut back on other calories to help balance things out. We love your lentil chips!!
I think it is important to remember that we do need good fats in our diet. Some many people go on crash diets and eat all 0 to low fat foods..not good at all in the long run!
It's all about the balance of both excercise and eating right
That's wonderful to know about the serving sizes!
great info. Balance is the key
I read labels pretty closely. After reading this, it'll be easier to interpret.
I always read labels, I here that the gov is going to have to make lables more readable with some bold print for key information. that will be a help
It's so important to watch our serving sizes!
#NNM #labellogic #nutrition it's great to see some one got our backs I mean us the ones who like to snack an worry how much is too much an good fats to bad fats most food labels like to hide !
Thanks so much for the tips. It's important to eat a balanced diet.
Love this article. Ive not tried these but this Covers all the questions i had! Now i just need to try them
Balance in a diet is very important. The type of fat consumed also needs to be taken into account.
Thanks for the healthy eating tips! I did notice what you said about serving size sometimes its smaller for healthy or diet items. 🙂
The serving size is often the biggest disappointment to me. I'd like to think of a serving as the entire product!
great article .
would love to win!
As far as nutrition labels go, I almost never pay attention to the 'numbers' anymore… I'm MUCH more interested in the actual INGREDIENTS. Trying to avoid tans fats, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup/corn syrup, artificial coloring/flavoring, GMOs, etc. Being aware of WHAT you are consuming is of most importance. If you're eating REAL FOOD, you're getting proper nutrition!
the article about serving size is absolutely correct, once i ate a whole small bag of trail mix in one day and come to find out there were 8 servings in one bag, boy did i feel bad. lol
I think that serving size is important! We are such a "Super Size Society!" In France their large drink is the same as our small. I think portions are out of control! Experts talk about immediately boxing up half your meal at restaurants! Sigh. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you!
very true, I know I always have a problem with remembering good vs bad fat-
Agreed it is easy to forget to multiply by the serving size.
Serving size and nutrition means so much… I lost over 300 pounds, and this is definitely spot-on!
the information is very helpful and interesting i love it balance is very important in our eating 🙂
Single serve packaging helps us know what the proper serving size should be.