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Serving Shockers: 6 Miscalculations That Add Up to Over 1,300 Hidden Calories

I was recently talking to a client about label reading tricks and one in particular came as a huge shock: always check the 'servings per container' – many foods that appear to be a single serving may in fact contain more than one, which means if you eat the entire package, you need to multiply the calories (and other nutrition data) by the ‘servings per container.’ When she looked at a label, she simply scoped out the 'calories per serving' and stopped there. As a result, she was unknowingly eating several hundred more calories per day than she estimated. Here are a few common "foods that may fool":

One 2.125 oz box animal crackers
(such as Nabisco Barnum's Animal Crackers)
Calories per serving: 120
Servings per container: 2
Total calories: 240

One 20 ounce bottled green tea
(such as Arizona)
Calories per serving: 70
Servings per container: 3
Total calories: 210

One 32 ounce bottled protein fruit smoothie
(such as Bolthouse Farms)
Calories per serving: 160
Servings per container: 4
Total calories: 640

One 3.2 ounce dark chocolate bar
(such as Chocolove)
Calories per serving: 157
Servings per container: 3
Total calories: 471

One 3 ounce instant oatmeal cup
(such as Dr. McDougall’s)
Calories per serving: 150
Servings per container: 2
Total calories: 300

One box frozen cheese enchiladas (2 enchiladas per box)
(like Amy’s)
Calories per serving: 240
Servings per container: 2
Total calories: 480

It pays to read labels and do the math – miscalculating just these six foods (e.g. mistaking one serving per package) would add up to eating an extra 1,340 calories - and being off by just a few hundred a day is enough to either prevent you from losing weight or allow your weight to creep up over time. I once saw a muffin package that counted one quarter of a muffin as a serving! If you come across any additional examples, please leave a comment.

P.S. One more tip - the nutrition information listed on restaurant web sites is sometimes the same deal - more than one serving per entrée. For example, according to P.F. Chang’s, the Almond & Cashew Chicken lunch bowl and the Lemon Pepper Shrimp entrée each contain two servings per meal and the Great Wall of Chocolate dessert has four.


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