On Your Health

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How to Calculate Calories per Serving

by Karen Massey, registered licensed dietitian with INTEGRIS

When you're dieting, it can be difficult to understand portion sizes based on the food label found on the packaging. Karen Massey, a registered licensed dietitian with INTEGRIS, shares tips on how to more accurately calculate calories per serving so you know much you consume.
Hi, I am Karen Massey. I am a registered licensed dietitian with INTEGRIS Health and today we are here to talk about simple tips for reading a food label. The food label has been out since 1994 and most people are familiar with the nutrition facts panel, but using it can be tricky, and so here's a little hint. When you're looking at the food label, the first thing you want to zoom in on is the serving size, but sometimes that's frustrating. In this case, the serving size is 13 chips. Well, I don't know, am I going to count 13 chips? What do I do with the broken ones? There's all kinds of problems with trying to figure out the serving size because your serving size might not be the package serving size. And so the way to get around this is to zoom down one more line and go to servings per container. And in this case, there are 10 servings in this bag of chips. So if I'm wanting to know how many calories did I eat, the easiest way to go rather than counting out the 13 chips, is to go down to that next line - there's 10 servings to the container - and if I want to know calories, there's 140 calories per serving. So 140 times 10 tells me that the bag is 1,400 calories. Now I have meaningful information because I can say, "Well, it took me three days to eat it," or "Four of us ate it." Then I know how many calories really were in my serving size by going to the calories for the whole container and re-dividing it by the number of servings that I consumed.

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