How Multiple Servings Can Hide in Healthy Packaged Snacks
September 17, 2009
Even when you’re trying to make healthy snack choices — choosing, for example, a juice drink over soda or junk food — it’s still essential to exercise vigilance on portion size, as two or more can hide in seemingly small packages and bottles, adding up to many more calories than you may have bargained for.The label of a Naked Juice Protein Zone reveals virtuous ingredients: orange juice, apple juice, banana puree, pineapple juice, whey protein concentrate, etc., with 210 calories per serving, and a nice line-up of nutrients.But look closer and you’ll see there was technically two servings in this little 15-ounce plastic bottle – adding up to a whopping 420 calories!
Portion control — or at least portion awareness — is key to successful weight management, since we tend to eat what’s put in front of us (more popcorn out of bigger popcorn tubs, more M&Ms out of bigger bags, etc.).Complicating this challenge is the fact that serving size is often the most misleading piece of information on a food label, particularly when it comes to beverages and snacks that look
like they’re only one serving.
Beverages are notorious for label confusion because while the standard serving size is eight ounces, most bottles contain 15 to 20 ounces.Want to know what eight ounces really looks like? It’s a little bit less than the “kid’s size” cardboard milk carton you used to get in elementary school! When was the last time you drank that much (or little?) of a beverage?
Other common serving-size culprits include “snack-size” bags of trail mix, nuts, pretzels and crackers, which can contain three or more servings.There’s no way to tell without looking at the label.Even the teensy three-and-a-half-ounce bag of Snak Club trail mix we looked at actually contained three servings — thus tripling the calorie count on the back of the bag.Snak Club’s six-and-a-half-ounce bag of pretzels had more than six servings.Instead of a blip on your daily menu, you’re now looking at a diet-denting 400 calories.
Your best bet for snacks that are healthy? Fruit and veggies.Any high-fiber fruit or vegetable will fill you up before you consume too many calories.If fruit and veggies aren’t within arm’s reach when hunger attacks then check out the serving size on the back of whatever packaged food you’re consuming.Multiply the calories per serving by the amount of servings you consume, so you’re better able to compensate for those calories later in the day.
Here are some simple ways to make your next snack attack guilt-free, regardless of what the label says.
- If you want to guzzle an entire container guilt-free (no mental calculations required), reach for a kid’s size juice box rather than a 20-ounce bottle.Most juice boxes contain 100 calories total and they’re easy to stash in your desk drawer or bag.
- Pick up a 5-ounce can of V8 or small can of pineapple juice for a nutrient-packed low-calorie drink.
- Bring your own snacks in plastic baggies, pre-measured in single-serving sizes.
- For snacks, stock up on one-serving, packaged foods like crackers and nuts.You’ll often find these sold in packs in the grocery store.
As always, you can’t go wrong with fresh veggies or fruit for a power-packed, calorie-pinching snack.