Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April week # 2 - Portion Control?

Rising obesity rates have us all playing the blame game. What led to the epidemic — carbohydrates? Saturated fat? High fructose corn syrup? Too much protein? Or did our ever-expanding workdays cause our ever-expanding waistlines?

While all these factors have surely played a part, there’s something simple that we often overlook: portion control. Plain and simple, we just eat too much. Twenty years ago, a typical portion of spaghetti and meatballs was 1 cup with three small meatballs. Today, it’s 2 cups with three large meatballs — that’s 500 calories versus 1,025! To burn off the extra 525 calories, you’d have to clean your house vigorously for 2½ hours or run (pretty fast) for nearly an hour. Although we’ve lost sight of real portion sizes, we can downsize our bodies without giving up the foods we love if we just refocus. Here’s your visual cheat sheet:

1 serving of fruit or vegetables = 1 cup, or the size of a tennis ball
1 serving of chicken, fish, or meat = 3 ounces, or the size of a woman’s palm or a deck of cards
1 serving of whole grains = 1/2 cup of cooked grains or 1 slice of 100% whole grain bread
1 serving of pancakes = 1 4-inch pancake, about the size of a CD
1 serving of pasta or rice = 1 cup of cooked pasta, or the size of a woman’s fist
1 serving of dressing = 1 tablespoon, or the size of your thumb, tip to the top joint (1 teaspoon is about the size of your thumbnail)
1 serving of potatoes = 1 small (3-ounce) baked potato or ½ cup mashed potatoes, about the size of a small computer mouse
1 serving of cheese = 1 ounce, or about 4 dice stacked on top of each other
1 serving of nuts = 1 ounce, or the size of child’s handful

And remember, when dishing out your food, fill half your plate with vegetables, ¼ with protein, and ¼ with a complex carbohydrate.

*Information found in the Skinny and the City Newsletter

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