Portion Check

As many of us are aware, the average portion size in the United States continues to become larger. In fact, at many fast food restaurants, what was once considered a small 12 ounce beverage is now 20 ounces. Plates are getting larger, and expectations are getting bigger. This chart below demonstrates how serving sizes have changed drastically over time; from the 1980s as compared to today.

Food Item 1980s Today
Turkey Sandwich 320 calories 820 calories
French fries 210 calories 610 calories
Bagel 140 calories 350 calories
Slice of pizza 500 calories 850 calories
Soda 85 calories 250 calories

Table Source

The difference between “portion” and “serving” is often distorted. A “serving” represents a commonly measured amount of food; for example ½ cup of pasta is one serving. However, a “portion” represents the physical amount of food that is served. At most Italian restaurants, the portion of pasta can be 2-3 times the appropriate serving size.  Larger portion sizes are an unavoidable trend, but by following these five tips, you can control your food intake by understanding portion sizes.

1. Understand food labels: Nutrition facts labels are the best resource for understanding portion sizes. The serving size and number of servings per container are listed at the top of the label. Using the nutrition facts labels below, if you were to consume the entire bag of Fritos®, you will have eaten three servings and 480 calories. Often times, the serving size is not representative of what people normally consume.

frito-lay-picture

2. Understand normal portion sizes: Use the link below to test your knowledge of common portion sizes recommended by the USDA. Keep these portion sizes in mind the next time you are cooking at home or dining out

Portion Distortion Handout

3. Ask for a to-go box before your meal comes: When dining out at a restaurant, one of the best ways to control portion size is asking for a takeout box when you order. When the meal comes, immediately package half the meal to take home and enjoy for leftovers the following day.

4. Serve food on small plates: When dining at home, serve meals on smaller plates and avoid placing extras on the table. This will help prevent from taking surplus helpings while your stomach is still digesting food.

5. Share appetizers and desserts: Instead of ordering individual appetizers, try splitting one appetizer with everyone at your table. Use this same trick for desserts if you have a sweet tooth after your meal.

Resources: 

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Huffington Post

FritoLay Picture

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