Food Jargon

One bagel equals two-three servings of grains, according to Canada’s Food Guide, it has a recommended serving size of 113g, and counts as one portion. Confused? Consumers appear to be confused about serving sizes, what they mean, and how to use them. Complicating the problem are large portions of food that are becoming the norm in many eating establishments. Hopefully this post will decode some of these confusing definitions.

Canada’s Food Guide A food guide serving is a reference amount regarding the total amount of foods recommended daily from each of the four food groups. For example all these equal one food guide serving: ½ cup of frozen or fresh fruit or vegetables, ½ a bagel, 1 ½ oz of cheese, and two eggs. The number of servings an individual requires depends on how many calories he or she needs, so check out what you need here.

 Food Label Serving According to Health Canada (specifically the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) under the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act ALL pre-packaged foods MUST include a Nutrition Facts Label, which includes calories and 13 other key nutrients. Therefore, a food label serving is a specific amount of food that contains the quantity of nutrients listed on the Nutrition Facts Label. For instance, if a ¼ cup is the recommended serving size on a package of cashews then by eating a ¼ of a cup you are eating 180 calories etc (whatever is written on the package). Note - this is usually how much you should be eating, in other words it equals one food guide serving (see above), so try not to eat the whole bag of cashews ok?

 Lastly, Portions A ‘‘portion’’ can be thought of as the amount of a specific food an individual eats for dinner, snack, etc. Portions can be bigger or smaller than the servings listed in the Food Guide or on a food label. Generally, consistent with their greater caloric need, men’s portion sizes (number of food guide servings at each eating occasion) are larger than those for women; for both genders, portion sizes decrease with age, especially for foods such as meats and grain products.

Well, I hope I didn’t confuse you more!

Take away message: watch your portions and try the ‘hand jive.’ The hand jive states that whatever you can fit in the palm of your hand should be your personal portion size. Kids have small hands; therefore, their portion size should be smaller.