Thursday, July 10, 2014

Self-delusion and serving sizes

This is one of my favorite examples of self-delusion.  How many potato chips do you take from the bag?  How much soda do you drink from the bottle?  If you even think about it at all, you would probably tell yourself you are having “one serving”.  Of course if you look carefully at that label, you will find it has 2 or even 3 servings in it. How many of you take half of a snack pack bag and save the rest for later?  I didn’t think so.

Gretchen Rubin lists many of the reasons we fall into this trap.  The first one is key.  How much is one serving?  I have no clue what one ounce of chips or nuts or hummus looks like.  Do they really expect me to?  If you know what the official serving size looks like, you would be shocked.  It is really just a few chips or nuts.  But instead we take a huge handful and then probably follow it up with another one.  And we tell ourselves that we are only having one “serving”.  This article at Health Castle has some good rules of thumb, but even these are just bare estimates. And the truth is that we don’t really think about it.  We just take whatever seems natural, which depends more on the size of our hand or the size of our serving bowl than it does on the food.

This is one of the reasons that those 100-calorie products have become so popular, even as they are ripping you off by giving you less food at a higher price.  You are paying the company to protect you from yourself.  I also like a prototype idea I heard Pringles was trying out.  Every 10th chip (or whatever one serving is – I don’t even know) was colored red.  This was a signal that you have hit a full serving without wasting money and carbon footprint on more packaging.