How do people come up with serving sizes?

This question is excellent! I don’t recall every being asked this! My first thought about who determines portion sizes was: “we determine portion size.” When I scoop ice cream, however much fits into my small bowl is my “portion” but I am consistently telling patients that they need to be aware of what they are eating. So I direct them to the top of the food label where it shows how much of the food is considered one serving. Let’s begin by discussing what exactly a “serving size” means. It is a measurement that allows companies to have uniform nutrition labels across brands. A serving size is not necessarily a size that relates to health. This determination comes from several places. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) compiled answers from two National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES). These answers dealt with typical portion sizes that people consumed at one time. The USDA averaged these results and came up with “reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion.” The Food and Drug Administration, in addition to the USDA, also deals with ensuring accuracy of the serving size on food labels.

I think we should be aware of serving sizes but take them with a grain of salt. I personally know that I am going to exceed the ½ cup serving size of ice cream. I likely have at least 2 servings. But I account for those calories as part of my overall calorie intake for the day. Knowing that 10 potato chips delivers ~110 calories will help me portion my servings better as to not exceed my overall calorie needs during the day. The serving size can really help you to plan ahead, portion out foods so you know how much you are eating. I hope this makes sense!

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