Food Labeling: 7 Products with Misleading Serving Sizes

Serving sizes shown on food packaging and in nutritional guides may seem like helpful tools for those looking to control their calorie, protein, and vitamin intake. In many cases, they can point you in the right direction, but sometimes food labeling can be misleading.

However, it is very easy to misinterpret this data, which is why we will tell you about the most often misunderstood portion sizes. Their explanations provide a clearer picture of food expectations versus reality.

List of 7 Serving Products Having Deceptive Portion Sizes

Here are some foods and dishes whose portion size can be misleading.

1. One Serving Of Instant Noodles

Instant noodles, a staple for students and anyone on a budget, come in polyethylene-wrapped briquettes. One can easily cook them by pouring them in boiling water and seasoning them with mixtures in the included sachets.

instant noodles

These noodles are deliberately portioned and wrapped; most consumers assume that one cake is equal to one portion. But if you read the data carefully, you will find that a serving, which contains on the order of 200-220 calories, includes only half of the packaged noodles and the seasonings attached.

Of course, that won’t stop most fans of instant noodles from enjoying them as convenient and affordable food. And according to board-certified dietitian Jenny Fowler of First Mile Care in California, eating small amounts of this food from time to time is nothing to worry about as long as you consider your dietary needs and compensate for them with other meals.

2. Serving Of Wine

Some people, who want to quit drinking alcohol, rely on lesser harmful products such as wine. However, a single serving of wine may contain 20% pure alcohol, which can be addictive. Thus, if you really want to abandon the habit of consuming alcohol, do not deceive yourself and quit all alcoholic beverages, including red wine.

The consumption of red wine and alcoholic beverages is common among veterans dealing with stress. Thus, they deceive themselves that three or four servings of red wine daily won’t do much harm. However, this is far from reality as excessive consumption of such products on a regular basis can be deadly.

Therefore, you need to get rid of this habit to sustain good health. There are special residential rehab services for veterans dealing with addiction, so they get help from them in order to recover quickly.

3. Ice-Creams

ice-creamHealthy ice cream is gaining popularity now. The rise in consumption of vegan dairy products has led to an increase in both plant-based ice cream and ice cream made from natural dairy products, which are lower in sugar and fat.

However, certified nutritionist and personal trainer Jamie Hickey of Truism Fitness encourages shoppers to pay close attention to the nutritional information on their favorite low-calorie ice cream labels.

It’s a great snack if you’re an ice cream lover because you can eat half a bucket for just 140-190 calories. But he warned that consumers should scrutinize the small text on packages. While considering them calorie-free, you may be over-eating them and harming your health.

food labeling serving sizes

4. Cooking Spray Portions

Cooking spray is a substitute for vegetable and animal fats, sealed in an aerosol can. In other words, it is a substance widely spread abroad, designed to reduce or replace the use of traditional oils that we use for cooking (frying) products. When it comes to obscure food labeling, it’s hard to beat the instructions printed on most cooking spray bottles.

Many brands do not provide a definition of the exact amount that would qualify as a “serving”. Instead, they indicate “spray time” (usually less than a second) and often add that a spray that takes this amount of time is virtually calorie-free.

5. Raw Almonds

When it comes to nutritious snacks that are regularly mentioned by nutritionists, raw protein-rich almonds are at the top of the list. Many consumers dive into a bag of almonds with their hands, believing that one or two large handfuls make up one serving. However, nutritionist Heather Hanks warns that a serving of almonds can be much smaller than you think.

raw almonds

She also warned that nuts with added oils and sugars could be higher in calories. According to Hanks, there are no doubts about eating almonds and men’s health benefits; thus, you don’t have to count the nuts before you eat them. However, you just need to limit your intake to one small handful.

6. Olive Oil

The health benefits of olive oil have been widely discussed in recent years, mainly due to the enduring popularity of the Mediterranean diet. But while it does contain beneficial antioxidants and fatty acids, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of olive oil you eat.


According to nutritionists, although olive oil contains many nutrients, including healthy fats, one tablespoon contains 120 calories. It’s easy to abuse, especially when people just pour bottle oil directly onto salads and vegetables without measuring out each serving.

Also, many people use it for healthy cooking but forget that it adds a ton of extra calories. Remember that using two tablespoons of olive oil every day for a week in salads or while cooking is like eating 8.25 big doughnuts.

7. Peanut Butter

When making peanut butter sandwiches, few people take the time to measure out the exact amount of peanut butter listed on the can as a serving. But whoever does this knows that the prescribed amount (2 tablespoons) is only enough for a couple of small sandwiches.

Peanut butter is an extremely high-calorie food. This means that it provides the consumer with more calories per serving. Even in a standard serving of peanut butter, there are about 190 calories. The calorie amount is easily exceeded when you combine peanut butter with bread, fruit, and jelly. It is better to eat this food in moderation and consider it a pleasure rather than part of your daily diet.

Take Away

We mentioned a list of foods that are easy to abuse and can become harmful to health. The most popular ones in this list are instant noodles, raw almonds, and spreads (such as peanut butter). Thus, one should be careful when eating these products and interpret the food labeling details carefully.

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