A meal bar that offered an astonishing 48 grams of protein in exchange for 24 carbs, 6 grams of fat and 320 calories would seem like a nutritional powerhouse.
So why is it that when I get those same numbers from two cups of low-fat cottage cheese, I feel like I screwed up?
It’s serving size guilt. Everybody knows you’re only supposed to eat half a cup of cottage cheese; the label tells you so.
But sometimes I need two cups to feel like I’m getting a breakfast that’s going to get me through a demanding day. If I can disregard the guilt and just focus on the numbers, I usually wind up feeling pretty good about my choice.
Here are two other ways to seize control of serving-size guilt and make food labels work for you instead of against you:
Go for a double. A double serving size sounds decadent, but in many cases it’s actually a calorie savings compared with the amount of food you’d normally eat. If you normally eat a large bowl of ice cream, measure out a double serving size instead. You’ll be saving calories yet still feel like you’re defying the serving-size police.
Don’t mistake freedom for ignorance: If it seems like a hassle to measure out servings every time, make a note of how much food your favorite mug or bowl holds. Once I discovered our bowls hold two cups of cereal, I switched to eating mine out of a dainty glass punch cup. If I fill it to the rim, that’s half a cup. Sometimes that’s enough; sometimes it’s not. But even if I refill my punch cup two more times, I’m still eating less than a cereal bowl. (In my fat days I often wound up eating two bowls of Raisin Bran. That’s 4 cups – or a startling 760 calories — even before adding the milk!)