When 6 Chips = 1 Serving... Do Serving Sizes Need Revising?

August 11,2011
Erin Dower( )

You know the awful feeling. You just need a little snack, so you grab a few handfuls of tortilla chips, and then... aww, man. The serving size on the bag is for ONE handful. If that. Shoot! You do the math, multiplying the calories and fat times three. Shoot, shoot, shoot!!

And when it comes to feeding kids, who need even fewer calories, the issue of tiny serving sizes is an even bigger problem. Many bottles of juice contain 2.5 servings, and some packages of snacks contain 1.5 or more servings. Does your child really save the extra portion or fraction for another day? Probably not.

The FDA is considering revising its serving size guidelines for manufacturers, but that begs the question: Will larger serving sizes encourage people to eat even more? People will probably just keep eating and eating however much they want, no matter what the label says.

So, with the new school year coming up, what can you do to ensure your child is eating a healthy, balanced diet?

  • Try our Balanced Meal Planner tool -- just drag and drop some typical family food options onto your child's menu and make sure he's getting the right number of servings.
  • Start brainstorming healthy school lunch ideas with your child now, before the crazy school year is in full swing and you're trapped in the busy grocery aisles grabbing whatever you can think of. Ask your child (honestly!), which fruits and veggies does she eat at school lunch time and which ones just end up in the trash. What unhealthy snacks cause her to overindulge at home? Pack just one or two of those cookies she loves instead of three or four.
  • Read labels. Pre-packaged/"single" serving snacks are handy, but consider buying the big package and dividing it all up into appropriate serving sizes in sandwich bags or small containers at the beginning of the week. That will make the process of packing lunches quicker, too!
  • Read up on those visual reminders of serving sizes (like, 2 tbsp. of peanut butter = 1 ping-pong ball, etc.) and keep in mind that kids' servings should be even smaller since they're not the average 2,000-calorie-diet person that nutrition labels refer to.

Have a happy, healthy school year!