It’s confusing, I know! There is so much to learn when you start on a journey of health!
One of the biggest (and first) things to get your head around, is to ignore the front of any product. That is where the advertising lies. The product front is often what we refer to as the ‘Unicorns and fairy dust’ of the label; a pretty picture and catchy words whose ONLY job is to lure you in. The front of the package tells you nothing about what’s really inside the product.
But what about the back of the package? That’s where the important bits are, right? Yes, but there’s a catch. The bones of what’s really inside that box or bottle are there; but you need to know how to properly interpret the info. Let’s take a look…
We know that ingredients are super important, we’ve learned that in earlier lessons. If the ingredients are not clean –
…meaning they’re full of additives and things we don’t want to eat likes sugars, soy and gluten (gluten is inflammatory and causes gut imbalances. It’s not really fit for consumption at all.) – then the food item should not be eaten, period. And we don’t mean ‘In moderation’. If a food is toxic to our body and make no mistake that IS the case much of the time here, then our body wasn’t mean to eat it. Just don’t.
Items listed in the ingredients list are listed by weight. So, the first item listed is what makes up most of the product and then other ingredients are listed in descending order until we reach the last ingredient. This last ingredient is present in your product in the smallest quantity.
Serving size is where it gets really tricky. The serving size ONLY tells you the quantity of food used to calculate the numbers in the nutrition facts table, that is all. It not a recommended intake, or even a suggestion of how much to consume. The serving size is, yet again, a pretty picture painted to make the product appealing to you.
Take whipping cream for example. You will notice for most brands, that sugar is listed as an added ingredient, but it’s not showing on the nutrition label. How can that be? How can it be there, but not there at the same time?
‘Manufacturers manipulate these labels by reducing the serving size down small enough so they can show a value of less than 1. If a value is less than 1, they can round down to zero and then they are permitted to exclude these items from the nutrition label altogether.’
Most whipping cream brands show a serving size value of 1 Tbsp = 0 carbs. This is a case where the serving size has been reduced to show a value of less than 1, then that carb value is omitted. It’s a manipulation of the numbers. It’s not that there are no carbs present, they’re just carefully hidden.
Let’s look at what happens if you bring that serving size back up to 1 cup. The increased and more realistic serving size now forces the manufacturer to show a carb value of more than one, so they must show the carbs, or hidden sugars that are present.
Are these manufacturers telling a lie? Not at all. Are they slanting the information to show something that is not? Absolutely! Most people buy these products thinking they are a free for all. Needless to say, this can quickly add up in you’re unaware of it. This is that case with many foods and many nutrition labels. You really have to become your own advocate and food investigator to be successful.
Stevia is another known offender – Sorry, it really has carbs ☹
Percent Daily Value (% DV)
This value tells you if the serving size has a little or a lot of a particular nutrient. Its shows the percentage of the ‘daily recommended value’ of certain foods and nutrients. The danger here is, if the Canada Food Guide doesn’t match your own way of eating – and if health is your goal, we say DON’T follow it – this number is going to steer you wrong in a big way.
So, eyes wide open, do you own math and use your thinker.
Serving Size VS Portion Size – Let’s cut to the chase here
Portion size is often confused by serving size. Understanding the difference between the two is important.
Serving size, as we just learned, appears on the Nutrition Facts label, and that amount is used to calculate the nutrient information. It is NOT a recommendation of how much to eat or drink.
Portion size refers to the amount of a food or beverage that is served to us, or that we choose to fill our plates and glasses with. That number will vary from person to person, and also for most people, from day to day.
Here’s the issue – everybody’s portion size is different. My portion size would be different from Geoff’s on most days. He’s bigger than me and needs more fuel for his body to run efficiently.
Taking activity into account also should change up portion size. Portion size would be larger on a day when someone is physically active, than it would be on a day when they’re chillaxing on the couch all day.
‘If you burn more energy on any given day, your body will demand more fuel/food by way of hunger. Listen to your body’
The takeaway – the serving size (on a label) usually has no bearing on how much people really eat in any way.
The goal for us here at East Coast keto Culinary, is to help people to realize if they tweak their intake and eat the right kinds of foods, they shouldn’t have to worry about portion size. In most nutrient dense foods, you will get full way before you are able to eat too much.
Look at a bag of (Please note – I am not recommending potato chips; I am using this example to show they are nutritionally devoid) chips. They’re not nutritionally dense, and most people could polish off a bag in the blink of an eye and not feel overly full or satisfied. You just keep wanting one more, am I right?!?
However, if given a plate of healthy steak or chicken, you would get full way before you ate too much. Real foods like meats and veggies are full of nutrients, they are satisfying to our body.
Your body has been guiding you all along. It knows what it needs.
When we are consuming foods such as white replacements (Faux-rices, faux-tatoes and faux-pastas) sweets and desserts, you should consider them as a ‘once in a while’ treat. In the case of these food items, its recommended we drop back your portion size and use your own discretion. Limit your intake.
Why we are dropping serving sizes and macros going forward.
We have given you all the tools on our websites – We’ve recommended drastically reducing sugars, gluten, starches, soy, and additives/chemicals and we have explained the whys.
We’ve tweaked and tested all our own family foods and given you the recipes to make in your own home. We’ve even started making the foods FOR YOU, by way of dry mixes, and fresh/frozen foods at select retailers and through our own bi-weekly take-out.
Based on what we’ve learned here (above), it’s impossible for me to tell you how much soup to eat. It’s not my job to tell you how big of a piece of cheesecake to have. I can’t tell you how much protein to consume in a day or in one given meal. It’s not my place.
That’s on you.