Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Tale of Two Servings

One of my favorite diet quotes is from the late Oscar winning writer, actor and director Orson Welles who apparently wrestled with the concept of proper portion control, “My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four, unless there are three other people there.”
Size matters. If weight control is your goal then portion control is the key. According to a survey done by the Calorie Control Council, 84% of dieters say they eat smaller portions of their favorite foods to control their weight. But, what does “portion control” mean anyway? Are we doomed to a life of postage stamp sized servings and forever banned from buffets?
The terms "portion" and "serving" don't mean the same thing. A "portion" is the amount you choose for meals or snacks - such as a platter of ribs or big tumbler of orange juice. In comparison a "serving" is the amount nutrition experts recommend we eat – such as 3 to 4 ounces of meat or 6 ounces of fruit juice. Controlling portions starts with understanding how many servings of each kind of food you should have a day based on your total caloric needs.
Cutting Portion Control Down to Size:

1. A portion is not the same thing as a serving. Did you know that the typical 5 ounce deli bagel contains about the same calories as five slices of bread? If you know you should only be eating 6-9 (one ounce) servings of grains per day then you can see that the bagel is taking a big bite out of your budget. Your portion of pasta at a restaurant may be three cups of linguini piled on one plate, but that counts as six grain servings.

2. You can eat more than one serving. A serving of meat may be 3 to 4 ounces or the size of a deck of cards, but the portion of steak on your plate can be two decks of cards depending on your total caloric needs. The US dietary guidelines recommend healthy adults consume a minimum of 6 ounces of meat or other protein food per day.

3. A serving of butter is the same as a serving of olive oil. Olive oil may be a healthier fat than butter, but it contains the same number of calories per teaspoon serving.

4. Cooked weights may be lower than ounces quoted on the menu. This is good news. Restaurants list raw weight of meats on the menu. An 8 ounce filet mignon will shrink when grilled, often by twenty-five percent, so the cooked portion is actually 6 ounces.

5. You get more of some foods than others so pump up the volume.
One grain serving: ¾ cup pretzels vs. 5 mini rice cakes vs. 3 cups plain popcorn
One fruit serving: ¼ cup of dried fruit vs. 6 ounces of juice vs.1 cup fresh fruit
One vegetable serving: ½ cup green peas vs.1 cup cooked broccoli vs. 2 cups raw cucumber
One dairy serving: 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese vs. 4 ounces low fat cottage cheese vs. 8 ounces low fat yogurt
One meat serving: 3 ounces of chicken vs. 6 ounces of cooked lentils

6. Visualize This. To judge measurements keep these shapes in mind.
Meat or Poultry: 3 ounces = deck of cards
Pasta or rice, cooked: 1 cup = 1 baseball
Hard cheese: 1 ounce = 4 dice
Pancake/waffle: 4 inch = diameter of a CD
Potato or sweet potato: 1 potato = computer mouse
Nuts, dried fruit, granola: ¼ cup = golf ball

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