In this super-sized society, everything is bigger, bolder and badder for your waistline. I think we as a society are revisiting this theory. At least in kids meals...at McDonalds a side order of fries has 20% less and are offering apple slices with caramel dipping sauce. Burger King is also offering healthier alternatives to kids meals, hamburger served with Apple Fries, the dipping sauce and apple juice while another features a four-piece serving of Chicken Tenders plus Apple Fries, dipping sauce and fat-free milk.
But let's take a look at what we do as adults... 20 years ago a typical bagel had a three-inch diameter and 140 calories, today's bagel is often a whopping six inches and 350 calories. Still not convinced that there's a growing problem at hand? Consider that a McDonald's hamburger was just 1.6 ounces in 1955, compared to today's 8-ounce burger that can cost you upwards of 590 calories. The portion distortion epidemic is prominent in both restaurant kitchens and home kitchens. While you can't control the portion sizes you're served when dining out, you can get a handle of what you bring to your own table. One way is to use a food scale to measure out your portions. There are also other effective rules of thumb you can use to eyeball servings.
You may be confusing portion control and servings. A portion is the amount of food you put on your plate. A serving is a specific amount of food defined by common measurements, such as cups or tablespoons. For instance, a pancake serving is 4 inches. But a typical portion you might eat is 6 inches — or 2 servings. Similarly, a serving of milk is 8 ounces, but the portion you pour might be twice that size. If your portion control is out of control, you may be supersizing your meals and yourself.
A 3-ounce chicken breast cooked is about the size of a deck of cards. The same goes for three ounces of cooked lean beef. A ¼ cup of almonds is about the size of a golf ball while 1 ounce of luncheon meat is the size of a compact disc. A bagel should be the size of a can of tuna - a slice of bread the size of a cassette tape. A one-cup serving of cooked pasta should be about the size of baseball. A ½ cup serving of cooked rice is about the size of a light bulb. A medium pepper is about the size of a baseball and equals one vegetable serving. One medium orange is about the same size as a tennis ball and equals one fruit serving, or about 60 calories.
One and a half to 2 ounces of low-fat hard cheddar cheese is about the same size as three to four dice and equals one protein/dairy serving, or about 110 calories. Two teaspoons of regular mayonnaise are about the same size as two dice and equal one fat serving, or about 45 calories.
It may take some practice to become a better judge of serving sizes and portions, especially as you put entire meals together. But the more you practice visualizing the cues, the more control you'll have over portion sizes. Controlling portion sizes also means controlling calories/points — and that's key to achieving your weight-loss goals.