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Friday, August 6, 2010

Help with Portion Sizes

I blogged recently about Italy's obesity rates, which are significantly lower than ours. There are many possible explanations for this discrepancy, but one of the biggest is portion sizes. Over the past few decades, Americans have become accustomed to larger and larger quantities of food.

Plates at restaurants are bigger. Popcorn sizes at movie theaters are larger. Until a documentary filmmaker shamed them, fast food restaurants encouraged patrons to "super size" every order. The list could go on and on.

Even if you pay attention to food labels, portion sizes can be tricky. Whenever we offer a health education seminar on diet and nutrition, this subject brings up a lot of questions. For example, if a serving size is four ounces, what exactly does that look like?

Over at MealsMatter.org, there is an article that might help you wrap your mind around portion sizes. Here are a few examples:
  • A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. For fish, it's about the size of a checkbook. (Do people have checkbooks anymore?)
  • One serving of pasta (1/2 cup) is about the size of a rounded handful.
  • One serving of nuts (1/4 cup) is about the size of a golf ball.
This is all well and good, but I have to ask: What do you think would happen at your local Italian restaurant if patrons were served exactly one serving of pasta?

Probably something like this:

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