Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nutrition Facts - or Trends?

I couldn't let the month of February go by without blogging.  I've taken a break to quilt, read and enjoy some other activities.  Today's news gave me a great topic.

The good old Nutrition Facts label is up for a makeover.  Good.  In our schools, we have an educational campaign called "Spot the Block" that highlights certain key pieces of information on the label.  We post the signs on our vending machines. Those key pieces of information will still be available, with some changes, both large and small.

I think I will tackle the changes a few at a time, in a series of blogs.  Here is the new proposed label:

The most significant change I feel compelled to discuss is the serving size updates.  The Feds say they are updating them to be more realistic to what people actually eat.  For example, 1/2 cup of ice cream will change to 1 cup.  The Serving Size will change and thus, so will the servings per container. 

However, I have always used the label as a teaching tool, saying the serving size is the suggested size.  Not the recommended size, because that would vary by individuals and their own size, their underlying medical conditions, and more.  But the suggested size.  Just because American's portions are getting bigger, does not mean we should change the serving size.  We should teach Americans how to do the math to calculate the calories and nutrients in the serving size they are choosing.  The process of doing that math can be quite an ah-ha moment for some.  We should continue to offer some norm as to what a portion size should be.

I'm in trouble if they say the serving size for Girl Scout Thin Mints is a sleeve of cookies, or 2 servings per container. Another example offered by the Feds for the new proposed label is that a bottle of soda will show a 20 ounce serving size.  Please, no.  People may no longer consider that it could be shared, that some could be saved for later, that they don't have to drink it all.

I've always said that the school meal program is one of the few places still offering normal portion sizes.  Food labels need to continue to provide that information.

Just because large portions are trending, we still need to offer the nutrition facts. And the fact is, our portions are too large.