National Nutrition Month: Realistic Serving Sizes

Did you ever notice that a serving size was much smaller than what you would normally consume in one sitting? If so, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noticed. The new Nutrition Facts label now includes updated, realistic serving sizes and packaging requirements based on science. 

How much food a person typically eats in one sitting has changed since the last Nutrition Facts label update more than 25 years ago. There are a variety of factors that have led to this change. The first factor is that people eat more food in one sitting than they did in 1993. Another is that packaging has become larger and contains more servings. 

For example, a snack bag of pretzels that used to have one or two servings, now includes two and a half or three servings. A person would typically consume an entire snack bag in one sitting. Then they would have to calculate how many calories, fats, sodium, and other nutrients they consumed. Now, that same snack bag contains one or two realistic portion sizes. This means that the calorie, fat, sugar, sodium, and other nutrient contents are updated to reflect slightly larger portions. If that package does contain more than one serving size, it must also include the nutrition information for one serving in one column, and two servings in another column. This eliminates the need to do complicated math to figure out how many nutrients, good or bad, you just consumed.

Even though these portion sizes do more accurately reflect what Americans are consuming on a regular basis, it’s still important to stick to a balanced diet by following MyPlate recommended portion sizes:

Vegetables: 2 ½ cups
Fruit: 2 cups
Dairy: 3 cups
Grains: 6 ounces
Protein: 5 ½ ounces

Saturated fats, added sugars, and other processed foods should also be consumed in moderation. The new Nutrition Facts label does make it easier to track the nutrients you consume on a daily basis, so either start or continue the habit of checking the label. 

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