FDA Weighs Update to Standard Serving Sizes: “Seeking a new weapon in the fight against obesity, the Food and Drug Administration wants to encourage manufacturers to post vital nutritional information, including calorie counts, on the front of food packages.”
Basic idea nugget (hidden within the proposed agenda to make us dumb fatties “realize” that we are obviously stuffing far too many chips into our gaping maws) is to get more accurate nutrition information available and easily readable for the public. That basic nugget? Brilliant. I for one feel that having to look at any nutrition label and having to do all sorts of math gymnastics is an unnecessary waste of time. If I get a bottle of juice from a vending machine or if I am looking to buy a loaf of bread with enough fiber for my husband’s voraciously demanding fiber needs it is annoying to squint at tiny numbers located in the wrinkled portion of the packaging in order to find out that I need to then multiply whatever is given by what is actually normally consumed. Bread info for only one slice? Needs to be doubled because who honestly uses one slice of bread to make a sandwich?? Bottles which one might think are one serving of a drink (soda, juice, bottled teas, etc) are actually 2 or 3 or, even more fun, 2.5 servings. I think getting rid of this sort of frustrating ambiguity and getting such information boldly, consistently and easily distributed out there is a fantastic thing. It will certainly make for fewer headaches for those of us who look to nutrition labels for our various reasons.
However (you knew there was a “however” coming, right?), I find it extremely irritating that this venture is all pegged as a way to enlighten us poor deluded and obviously unobservant fatties as to the true amounts we all are scarfing down at each sitting. I mean, seriously? Come on. This once again plays to the idea that any Fat Person is either in complete denial of what they are eating or so unintelligent as to not understand those nutrition labels and what “6oz” or “12 average-sized pieces” or “a handful” might mean. Even the article will tell the reader, “On today’s food packages, many of the serving sizes puzzle even the experts. For ice cream, the serving size is half a cup. For packaged muffins, it is often half a muffin. For cookies it is generally one ounce, equal to two Double Stuf Oreos. For most children’s breakfast cereals, a serving is three-quarters of a cup.”
Perhaps we (you know, those of us not in the group of people unable to get fat) just (perhaps with reason) can’t or don’t want to understand what those ambiguous or too precise serving suggestions can mean. Well I hate to burst that deluded bubble there folks (okay, so no I really don’t hate it); but anyone who has ever been through the hell that can be rigid dieting is firmly and fully aware of just how large 6 oz of meat is (about the size of a deck of cards), how large a cup of pasta is (about the size of a closed fist), just how un-fulfilling a half cup of low-fat ice cream really is, etc. Those of us indoctrinated into a culture of fat fear (and you will be hard-pressed to find many who AREN’T) have no need to be reminded to look at those labels and nervously count, count, count, always count what is there (even reading between the lines to somehow mystically learn what might be hidden; lurking within any favorite treat that ever dares beg entrance to the food temple of your body).
We’ve spent lifetimes forever counting, measuring, weighing, gauging sizes and then even taking a bit away because we’re sure it is still too much (I mean, what if my closed fist is bigger than the average fist??!! Then I’m eating like a half bite too much!!!)
So to me when I hear that the FDA wants more visible and consistent labeling of nutrition with servings linked to actual real usage I want to cheer. Yet when I read that this is all in an effort to scare us obese folks into nervously reconsidering that second handful of chips or cookies (because that’s all we ever reach for, natch); it makes me shake my head. Listen, I’m just as capable of reading those silly freaking labels as the next, perhaps thinner, literate human being. It isn’t a lack of huge lettering on the front of the package that makes me decide how much of it I think I can eat.
Already too, fear does seem to be lurking in the minds of those who already think that even adjusting serving sizes won’t affect obesity rates: “If the serving size for cookies rose to two ounces, from one ounce, for instance, some consumers might think the government was telling them it was fine to eat more.” Do they really think I’m over here thinking to myself in the grocery aisles, “Oooo this bag of chips has “110 calories” written in bold font on the front; that must mean the WHOLE BAG is only 110 calories!! I’m just gonna scarf it all regardless of how my body feels or how hungry I am because that is Just How Fat People Are, right?.”
Look, I’m all for truth in advertising, especially about the products we are putting into our bodies. Labels which are consistent, logical (1/3 of a muffin anyone?), and easily accessible make sense. Not just for those millions who are still trying to diet their bodies into weight-loss submission but for folks who need to watch their fiber intake, or look out for gluten or other allergens. However, transparency in labeling will not, as I think the FDA is hoping, scare people into changing their food choices. Until actual problems to be solved are addressed; such as the lacking availability of fresh foods or safe spaces across the nation; there isn’t much difference to be made in accurately labeling those cheap but “bad for you” foods in large letters and yet not visiting concerns over how pricey other “good for you” foods really are. Stop acting like all of this effort is going to somehow Make America Skinny!
Oh, and if you’re worried about your growing child eating more than a whopping 110 calories for breakfast (may even be eating 330!):
“When it comes to cereal, she said, many children probably eat two cups or more. Parents who glance at a box of Frosted Flakes and see that it contains 110 calories per serving may not realize that their children may be getting several times that amount each morning at breakfast.”
Then we have other huge concerns to address here, namely how devastating it is becoming to hear about the way food to children is being demonized to such an extent that 110 freaking calories is seen as a horrific glut.