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Mastering Food Portion Control
n the past decade, the number of overweight adults in the United States has increased from one in four to one in two. While lack of exercise is a big part of the problem, nutritionists believe that another major culprit is poor portion control. A “megameal” mentality has taken hold in restaurants, fast-food spots, convenience stores and even many homes. “Most people don’t realize that consuming as few as 100 extra calories per day–the amount found in 10 French fries or an ounce of cheese–can add up to a 10-pound weight gain in a year,” says nutritionist and group fitness instructor Catherine Reade, MS, RD, of Healthfull Living nutrition consulting in Littleton,

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Colorado. “So portion sizes obviously do matter.” Being obsessed with calorie counting is not a wholesome way to look at food, but learning to eat in moderation is crucial to good health and successful weight management. Reade offers this handy guide (based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid) to help you master portion control. The guide gives visual cues for single servings and lists each serving’s caloric content. You can see that regulating portion size is especially important when it comes to higher-fat foods like meat, full-fat dairy and oils. Use this convenient guide to learn (and remember!) what constitutes appropriate portion size.

single serving visual cues and caloric content
Food Group # Daily Servings Single Serving Visual Cue Calories per Serving (approx.)

Grains (bread, cereal, rice & pasta) Vegetables

6-11

3-5

Fruits

2-4

Dairy (milk, yogurt & cheese) Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Beans & Nuts Fat, Oils & Sweets

2-3

2-3

Use sparingly.

1 slice of bread 1 cup cold cereal 1/2 cup cooked cereal 1/2 cup rice or pasta 1 cup raw, leafy veggies 1/2 cup cooked veggies 3/4 cup vegetable juice 15 grapes 1/2 cup canned fruit 3/4 cup fruit juice 1 cup milk 11/2 ounces (oz) nonprocessed cheese 1/2 cup frozen yogurt 3 oz cooked lean meat 3 oz skinless chicken breast 3 oz salmon fillet 1 teaspoon oil, salad dressing or mayonnaise

CD case baseball English muffin scoop of ice cream salad bowl computer mouse standard lightbulb tennis ball computer mouse standard lightbulb standard yogurt cup computer disk computer mouse deck of cards cassette tape deck of cards matchbook

80 80 80 80 25 25 30 60 60 90 nonfat: 90; 2% fat: 120 whole: 150 150 100 110-165 165 165 45

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1992. The Food Guide Pyramid. Home and Garden Bulletin #252. Mahan, L. K., & M. Arlin. 1992. Food, Nutrition and Diet Therapy, 8th edition. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

This handout is a service of IDEA, the leading international membership organization in the health and fitness industry.