Susan Harrow

The Body Blog

Serving Size Lies: A big bag of chips?

I hate serving size lies.

Posted Jan 23, 2010

Serving Size LiesI hate serving size lies. Food manufacturers may think that their suggestions are sensible. Perhaps they are... for people who nibble, taste or sample. But these guidelines don't make sense for people who actually eat.

For example, I'm keen on Kettle brand potato chips. But I strongly disagree with their sentiments on size. One bag is NOT five servings. It's two. If I'm in a particularly snacky mood, it may only be one. Remember last year when Oprah confessed her penchant for eating a bag at a time of blue corn chips? The bakers of her favorite brand, Hain-Celestial's spokesperson responded by politely suggesting that Oprah get the single sized bags instead of the ones that were for created for a crowd. A crowd? A companion, maybe.

Serving size suggestions are downright dangerous to my self-esteem. It's become particularly important since I have a gluten-free diet, so I'm reduced to taking pleasure in a select few foods that don't taste like sawdust, cardboard or glue.

It's also made me a bit crazy in the head, this being allergic to gluten. No pasta? No bread? No Tiramisu? No Biscotti? Being Italian I feel like a diabetic in a bakery. Sure, I've discovered a few gluten-free foods that are edible, but few compare to the real thing. It makes me recall something Woody Allen said, "The food is so bad and the portions so small."

When I feel deprived, like at Christmas, when I can't partake of my mother-in-law's fantastic Walnut Crescents, Thumbprints, Sugar, and Toll House cookies, I get "The Dream."

I'm at a buffet table piled to the ceiling with cakes, cookies, cupcakes, custards, cobblers, crisps, and puddings. I'm gorging myself. These desserts aren't ordinary. They are gorgeous, the movie stars of the dessert world, and inevitably I wake up in the morning with a horrible hangover, feeling bloated and ill, even though not a touch of gluten has passed my lips. Portion control is not in my vocabulary. I become a sugar whore indiscriminately welcoming anything sweet into my mouth. Size matters. It has to be huge.

In the latest version of "The Dream" I was offered a two-foot tall, three layer yellow cake with a giant bird on the top fashioned of frosting. I uncharacteristically said, "That's a bit too large. Could I have a piece with just one-half of the bird?" See, I do have some sense of portion control. Next, I'll be eating 6 chips and calling it a meal.

Susan Harrow is the author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul. She runs a Media Consultancy where she helps everyone from Fortune 500 CEOs to celebrity chefs, entrepreneurs to authors grow their business through media coaching and the power of PR. For more information please contact Susan.