Sunday, June 5, 2011

Portion Control: How Much is Too Much?

It is easy to assume we are eating the right sizes because we are satisfied at the end of the meal. But sometimes, trying to use our stomachs to gauge what our bodies actually need does not work out too well in the weight loss department. So how can you really know how much food to eat? Everyone eats varied amounts of food based on their weight goals. Your goal may require that you eat 1500 calories a day, while another individual’s goal may require that he/she eat 2500 calories a day.

Because we are not machines, there are a lot of websites and diet plans that help us meet the suggested number of calories. But then again, most diet plans give you information based on “servings”. e.g. two servings of oats is about 300 calories. But since we can’t go about our lives with a measuring cup, there are a few tricks to understanding what one serving means. We’ll focus on some of the major foods.

Rice/Beans: One serving of rice or beans (1 cup cooked) is about the size of two regular light bulbs. It might be easier to divide it into two, and think of each portion as the size of one light bulb.
Bread: The length of a slice of bread should be about the width of a cassette tape. I know, I know, they make gigantic loaves of bread nowadays. And sometimes, you might be underestimating the calories you are consuming when the slice of bread is so large.

Swallow: This list would not be complete without eba, pounded yam, amala, fufu, and the like, usually referred to as "swallow". One serving of any of these foods is about the size of a light bulb. One serving of the soup (or stew) used to eat these foods should be about the size of a baseball.

Cereal: This is a huge disappointment for those that love to eat humongous bowls of cereal, but one cup of flaked cereal (one serving) is only about the size of a baseball. So when you look at the pack and it says 1 cup is 300 calories, that 1 cup is about the size of a baseball. Think about how much cereal you can consume in one sitting.

Pasta: Another 1-cup disappointment is pasta. 1 cup of cooked pasta is about the size of a baseball. On the plus side, pasta is squishy so a lot can probably fit into that 1 cup.

Pancakes/waffles: The size of one pancake should be the size of a compact disc. Most of the information on calorie content of pancakes on the web would refer to one serving of pancakes/waffles as a CD-sized pancake/waffle.

Nuts: ¼ cup of nuts is about one serving. What does ¼ cup of nuts look like? A golf ball.

Meat: A serving of cooked chicken, beef or any other kind of mammal or bird is about the size of a deck of cards. With fish though, the serving is about the size of a checkbook. It may be easier to think about this in terms of length rather than trying to figure out how a chicken thigh translates to a deck of cards.

Tofu: So I had to do this for my soy lovers, right? One serving of tofu is about the size of a cassette tape. That’s actually a lot after it’s been all diced up.

Veggies: 1 cup of broccoli, carrots, spinach, lettuce, peas, and any combination of these is about the size of a baseball. Is that hard to picture? Think about it in terms of length or chopped up in a cup.

Potatoes: A potato should be able the size of a computer mouse. Yea, I know you’ve seen over-fertilized potatoes as large as your head, but that counts for multiple servings.

Corn: An ear of corn should be as long as that yellow pencil you used in school. You know, the one with the pink eraser on the bottom?

Fruits: Fruits come in all sizes and shapes. But the general rule of thumb is that one serving of round fruits like apples and oranges is the size of a baseball, one serving of long fruits like bananas is the length of a pencil, and one serving of small fruits like berries and grapes is the number of these fruits that can fit into a light bulb.

Spreads: One serving of spreads like butter or mayonnaise is about the size of a poker chip.

Miscellaneous: This is actually most of the junk food we eat. A serving of a burger should be as big as a deck of cards (I wonder where the Triple Whopper falls). A cup of soup, a meat pie, a serving of French fries, a serving of lasagna, and a cup of mac and cheese should all be about the size of a baseball. A burrito and a sub should be as long as a check book. And a slice of pizza should be about the size of 2 dollar bills.

Dessert: And now for the ultimate disappointment. How big should a slice of cake really be? About the size of a deck of cards. What about a cookie? It should be the size of two poker chips. One serving of ice-cream should be the size of a light bulb, and one cup of pudding or yogurt should be the size of a baseball.

So now you know. It’s a lot to take in, but once you’ve mastered grouping food into the baseball, light bulb, and deck of cards groups, it would become way easier. Also, now you have this article that you can save on your phone and reference anytime :)
I also found this fabulous guide that you can print out and put up on your fridge: Portion Control Guide. Please let me know if it helps you at all.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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1 comment:

    Im not exactly sure how big a baseball is, or a poker chip?
    im about to google that


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