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Thread: America's portion distortion

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    Default America's portion distortion

    America's Portion Distortion - 1 - MSN Health & Fitness - Nutrition Slide Show

    8 foods you're likely over-indulging in without realizing it.
    By Coeli Carr for MSN Health & Fitness

    When you pile food on your plate, do you have any idea how many calories you've signed up for? Do you calculate the recommended serving size by checking out the label or back-of-box nutrient information? Or do you tend to guess?

    The recommended serving sizes of certain mainstays on the family menu are often much smaller than you think, so it's easy to become oblivious to the amount of food you and your loved ones are eating. Here are eight foods with suggested serving sizes that may surprise you—plus some health consequences of such portion distortion.








    Pizza

    Do the math: Even the most disciplined eaters have difficulty keeping their pizza intake to one slice. But even one slice of cheese pizza may be a dietary liability. Each contains about 12 fat grams and approximately 300 calories—or more, depending on the amount and types of cheese, and the size of the slice. Cheese has a fair amount of saturated fat, which is unhealthy for the heart, says Joan Salge Blake, M.S., R.D., a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University and author of the college textbook Nutrition & You (Benjamin Cummings, 2007). And, she adds, many people just nibble off the cheese and sauce and leave the crusts, so they feel less full. "It's the equivalent of eating a cheese meal," says Blake.

    The fix: Have a salad before you start eating the pizza, suggests Blake, who cites research showing that eating a salad with light dressing before a meal may help you reduce the calories of the main part of your meal by about 10 percent. And, if you're eating out, she recommends you finish your salad—which probably will have helped sate your hunger—before placing your pizza order. You may then find that one slice, ideally topped with vegetables, is all you need. Making pizza at home, preferably with whole-grain dough and a generous amount of oven-roasted veggies to add flavor, is the best way to keep calories and fat low. Blake recommends you top it with a minimal amount of reduced-fat mozzarella or other cheese.







    Salad dressing

    Do the math: One of our favorite types of salad dressing is the blue cheese variety. Unfortunately, the typical serving size of two tablespoons of this dressing—which many people might consider minuscule—contains 16 fat grams, says Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at Rutgers University. In other words, she says, 94 percent of the calories from this dressing are from fat.

    "High fat intake is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and obesity," she says. "This raises blood lipid levels, and fat can be deposited into arteries over time."

    The fix: The ideal, says Byrd-Bredbenner, is to stick with low-fat dressings. However, if you're crazy about the blue cheese variety, you can combine low-fat and full-fat varieties together. Better yet, she says, is to make your own blue cheese dressing, using a very minimal amount of the high-fat ingredients. "Aim simply for flavor and not pieces of cheese," she says.







    Ice cream

    Do the math: The standard serving size for ice cream is half a cup. But, Blake asks, how many people actually get four portions out of a pint, or 16 servings out of a half-gallon container? The danger, she says, is how quickly the calories add up. A half-cup serving of chocolate ice cream contains about 150 calories, she says. And, she notes, choosing a reduced-fat ice cream doesn't always solve the problem. "Because it's 'light,' people think they can eat more of it, and they often do," she says. "Even though the fat is reduced, the ice cream will still contain a fair amount of calories, so over time, you put yourself at risk for obesity."

    With ice cream, the eye is easily fooled, she says. A study published in 2006 revealed that the participants who had chosen larger bowls unwittingly served themselves one-third more ice cream. People using larger serving spoons also dished out more of the sweet treat.

    The fix: To help keep portions in check, buy an ice cream scoop, says Blake, or a small cup that will allow you to keep its contents to half a cup. Another trick, she suggests, is to fill an 8-ounce cup—a recycled yogurt container will do—halfway with ice cream, and then top it off with fresh fruit, such as low-calorie berries. And use common sense: "Don't use the ice cream container as your bowl," she says.







    Orange juice

    Do the math: Orange juice is one breakfast staple just about everyone can agree on. But, Blake says, many people tend to consume too much because it's perceived as a healthy drink full of vitamins and phytonutrients. While it's high in vitamin C, a typical eight-ounce serving contains about 112 calories, which can add up over time. And a recent study conducted at Rutgers University noted that a typical portion of orange juice has increased by 40 percent compared to 20 years ago.

    Better to keep your OJ intake to one cup daily, and satisfy your fruit intake the rest of the time with whole fruit, including fresh, frozen or canned, says Blake. Whole fruit contains fiber, which makes for a more satisfying and filling snack, she says.

    The fix: "Don't guzzle out of the container!" advises Blake, who suggests pouring a small amount of juice—an ounce or two at a time—into water or sparkling water, which you can then sip slowly.







    Soft drinks

    Do the math: The typical eight-ounce serving of soft drink, such as cola, contains 95 calories and 24 grams of sugar, says Byrd-Bredbenner. But who guzzles just one cup?

    Fast-food establishments regularly dispense 64-ounce containers filled with these beverages. But even a 32-ounce serving adds up to 96 sugar grams, which can significantly promote weight gain if consumed regularly. "Increased weight gain increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer," she says, noting that tooth decay is another possible consequence.

    The fix: "Drink water. It's calorie free!" says Byrd-Bredbenner. If you prefer your beverages flavored, you have healthful and tasty options. Add lemon juice, or a little fruit juice, such as pomegranate, to regular or sparkling water, she says. Or try naturally flavored waters (read the label and avoid those with sugar, corn syrup or other sweeteners; experts say many commercially available flavored waters are high in empty calories). Buying diet soda, or diluting soft drinks with sparkling water, are other options.

    If you don't want to give up high-caloric soft drinks, buy smaller containers, or, if you're at home or in your office, try pouring it into eight-ounce cups. Here's a handy do-it-yourself tip for a 64-ounce bottle: Mark the bottle with a marker so that you've indicated eight equal portions so you can tell when you've poured out a full serving.







    White rice

    Do the math: Go to a restaurant, and you're likely to receive a mound of white rice that's the equivalent of between two or three cups. Without question, people tend to eat all the white rice they've given, even if it's triple the amount they should be eating, says Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., who counsels and oversees the nutritional needs of students at Washington University in St. Louis. A half-cup serving of white rice contains about 15 carbohydrate grams. Two cups boosts that to 60 grams. "Carbohydrates, whether ingested as fruits, vegetables, grains or table sugar, all end up in the body as glucose," says Diekman. "If you take in more sugar than is necessary to support bodily activities, those carbs wind up as stored fat." White rice's low fiber content—a result of removing the outer layers—is at least partly to blame. Food that's missing the healthful and filling fiber tends not to satisfy, she says.

    The fix: Choose rice with veggies, suggests Diekman. She suggests starting with one cup of rice—visualize a portion the size of a baseball—and piling on either steamed, sautéed or microwaved vegetables. Experiment with flavors by adding small amounts of sauces. Then work your way to a half-cup portion of white rice no larger than half a baseball. If you're a person who likes to see the rice unmixed with other ingredients, add some color to your plate, says Diekman. "Color improves the eating experience."







    Potato chips

    Do the math: Those tiny 1-ounce bags that fit into the palm of your hand usually don't satisfy most chip lovers. But that handful still contains 168 milligrams of sodium, which represents 11 percent to 14 percent of the adequate intake of between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams for adults, says Byrd-Bredbenner. But beware when eating from a larger size bag. A 6-ounce bag—which is easy to finish off in one sitting—increases your sodium total to more than 1,000 milligrams. And, in moments of weakness, who hasn't grabbed even a larger-sized bag? *

    "About 10 percent of the population is sodium sensitive, which means you can increase your blood pressure if you increase your sodium intake," she says, noting that high blood pressure is a risk for cardiovascular disease.

    The fix: Byrd-Bredbenner suggests buying unsalted chips. You can use herbs to flavor the chips, or sprinkle a minimal amount of salt on them, or use a combination of both strategies, she says. She advises checking the label on the back of the herb products you use to make sure there's no added sodium. And, she adds, because 60 percent of calories in regular chips are from fat, it's best to buy baked chips.

    For portion control, potato chip fans can divide chips from large bags into more manageable, smaller bags. Or designate a bowl specifically for chips that, when filled to the brim, holds an appropriate number of chips.

    March 20, 2009: The text for this slide originally contained erroneous information about the percent of sodium contained in a 1-ounce package of potato chips as it relates to the recommended intake for adults. The text also misstated the amount of sodium in a 6-ounce bag of potato chips. Both issues have been corrected.







    Burgers

    Do the math: If the burgers you love to eat spill out over the bun, chances are the patty's too big. The dietary guideline for daily total cooked protein intake for adults is between 5 to 7 ounces, says Diekman. And, she says, even though meat shrinks during cooking, a very large burger could easily fulfill one's suggested daily total protein allotment. Fat intake is another concern—a 4-ounce cooked burger can contain as many as 20 grams, up to half of that saturated.

    Use a deck of cards to visually gauge 3 ounces of cooked meat.

    Diekman cites a study that looked at college students' perceptions of healthy portion sizes. Many people have either lost or never had the ability to make those assessments, she says, adding, "We eat out so frequently, that we now tend to eat larger-than-good-for-you restaurant portions at home."

    The fix: If you're eating out, says Diekman, ask for a small patty, and request them broiled so the fat drips away. If small sizes are not possible, cut the burger into two portions as soon at it arrives at the table, and put one into a take-out container. Eating either soup or a salad before tackling your burger will help you feel satisfied with less meat, she says.

    If you're cooking at home, choose ground beef that's more than 80 percent lean, she says, and add different ingredients—oatmeal (instead of bread crumbs), grated carrots, or fresh herbs, such as parsley or coriander—to a smaller amount of meat. Visualizing half a baseball is another way to measure about 4 ounces of meat, says Diekman.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I like the idea of adding oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs. I once read where Rita Hayworth would order dinner and insist they bring out only 1/4 of the everything. She would tell them firmly if they DID bring out full servings,she was going to send them right back.
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    I thought this was going to be about the huge portions served in restaurants. I'm always amazed that what could easily satisfy a family of four is served as one portion to one person.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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    A*O
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    Agree. I'm sure the US obesity problem (and the growing Aussie one too) could be solved if portions were cut by half. Just use smaller plates so they still look overflowing with food would be a start. When we were travelling around the US with young kids we used to order one meal and split it between the 4 of us. Plenty for everyone although the restaurants didn't like it one bit.
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    i'm all for portion control, too, and agree that it's one of the largest factors contributing to obesity in the US.

    salad dressing is a KILLER! i always put my dressing on the side, then dunk my fork in the dressing before picking up the salad. i use about 1/4 (or less!) of the dressing i would otherwise.
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    Our family orders two meals, and between two older kids and my husband we still come home with leftovers. I did gain a load of wait when I was younger trying to get my dollar worth, though...now I just split with friends.

    The only drawback to this is the waitstaff becomes less friendly, which can sometimes ruin the experience.
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    I hate how it's impossible to convince people (okay, my husband) of the evils of misleading things like orange juice. It's regarded as a healthy thing, so he drinks it like water even though in his mind he is being moderate. I always say the sugar content outweighs any nutritional benefits because of this. He hates when I water it down too so I try to never buy it.

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    Elite Member january's Avatar
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    OK so the past two weeks I've been eating healthy and using strict portion control (I had gained fifteen pounds that I had NO clue where it came from). Surprise! I soon found out. I realized even when I was carefully measuring out my cereal in the morning that I was ingesting WAY more than I should have been. What I perceived as 3/4 of a cup was more like 2 cups! What the hell! In reality I was ingesting WAY more calories than what I realized, even though I always tried to eat healthy. And those little snacks I was eating here and there were really adding up. So I have been measuring everything, stringently keeping an eye on my calories, and I've already lost four pounds. I feel good and my stomach has already shrank, I can't eat hardly as much as I used to. I ate a half sandwich today and I was like "damn, this fills me up" - and a few weeks ago I would have made a full one. I had become so used to seeing a huge portion as "normal" that I needed to retrain my mind. The good thing is that we have saved major money on our grocery bills as well.
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    A*O
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    You're right it's your mind you have to retrain more than your stomach. If restaurants aren't willing to serve half portions then put your food on the smaller side plate so fool your eye/stomach. It's amazing how "little" you actually need to eat in order to feel full. That's the other trick. As soon as your body tells you "I'm full" then STOP. Don't force yourself to put away the last few mouthfuls even though it's a waste of food and money (unfortunately). I still cannot believe the sheer quantity of food people able to put away.

    I was in a Chinese restaurant for lunch the other day and we had stuff off the yum cha trolleys (yum indeed) and after really only a few dumplings, etc we were all full. The family at the next table kept ordering huge bowls of rice and sweet/sour pork and were just shovelling it down, plate after plate. I didn't think a human stomach was capable of holding that amount but obviously with years of training it can. These people couldn't have been hungry - they were just greedy (and very, very fat).
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    I've always laughed at the French restaurant style, huge plate and some nothingness in the middle though beautifully arranged...
    Now I see the point.
    I started to eat only starters in restaurant, because one or two fills me up so much I can't even have a dessert.
    And to think that my gran used to cook the whole deal on Sundays and we ate it through (rich soup+main course-meat and potato or pasta+a hearty dessert)

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    This was the big shock for me when I did Weight Watchers. I thought I was eating ok and couldn't understand why I was always struggling with my weight. When you pour a bowl of cereal, then pour milk you are usually getting at least double the suggested serving size. Ice cream was another one, I would scoop a bowl of ice cream each night, then I found out that the serving size is a 1/2 cup. Oops.

    It's no wonder we're fighting an obesity problem in this country! Everything is value sized and that's from too big portions in the first place. Even a child's meal is too much for an adult and yet my son would gladly scarf a double cheeseburger with fries and be happy to eat another one. I've been very firm that just because you think you can eat it, doesn't mean you need to. That's been his father's downfall. He'll "clean up" a plate (his own, mine, our son) whether he's hungry or not. We both come from families where you don't leave the table until you're plate is clear but I look back and can see how that hurt both of us.
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    My sister went to the US and was staggered by how gigantic portion sizes are over there, compared to in Australia. Which is saying something, because Australia's portion sizes aren't good, either.

    People always wonder how I manage to eat junk food and not follow any set kind of crazy carbless or whatever diet and stay slim, but I just think it's because I'm naturally inclined to eat sensible portions. I eat until I'm full and then I stop. I don't overeat until I feel sick. It's rare that I'll finish everything on my plate in a restaurant (or even in a private home, if someone else has served me) - and everyone will react like "What, but you barely touched it!" as though I hadn't eaten at all. The people I know say I have a small appetite, but I don't think I do - I have a perfectly normal one, I just don't feel a compulsive (and socially-ingrained) need to consume everything that's placed in front of me. At dessert, too... you know, I can easily limit myself to one small slice of cake - not have a big chunk and then also have seconds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by katerpillar View Post
    The people I know say I have a small appetite, but I don't think I do - I have a perfectly normal one, I just don't feel a compulsive (and socially-ingrained) need to consume everything that's placed in front of me. At dessert, too... you know, I can easily limit myself to one small slice of cake - not have a big chunk and then also have seconds.
    I definitely noticed this too when I moved to Singapore. People here eat stuff that would be a no-no on something like weight watchers but they eat 1/4 of the size of an Australian meal and they take 2 - 3 times as long to eat it. Sweets here are half as sweet and in tiny, tiny portions. At a buffet a piece of cake is like 3cm x 3cm. In Australia I remember buffets with so many cakes and every-one would take a huge slice of cake and pavlova.

    It's a good way to eat Katerpillar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    Agree. I'm sure the US obesity problem (and the growing Aussie one too) could be solved if portions were cut by half.
    It's a great idea. Even at the movies, the popcorn buckets are like wine barrels.

    Quote Originally Posted by katerpillar View Post
    I eat until I'm full and then I stop. I don't overeat until I feel sick.
    I'm this way, too. In fact, I feel extremely uncomfortable if I overeat and when I watch people eating massive amounts of food, it skeeves me out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    I hate how it's impossible to convince people (okay, my husband) of the evils of misleading things like orange juice. It's regarded as a healthy thing, so he drinks it like water even though in his mind he is being moderate. I always say the sugar content outweighs any nutritional benefits because of this. He hates when I water it down too so I try to never buy it.
    Mr. butt is like that and wow have we had words over it. He took a day off a few weeks back and proceeded to drink EIGHT little boxes of juice-the kind I tuck into the heathen's lunch boxes-before lunch. I nearly had a kitten, I was so pissed and also so worried about him imbibing like that. He's actually in great shape but that doesn't mean inside is looking all that good.

    Quote Originally Posted by powerorchid View Post
    I definitely noticed this too when I moved to Singapore. People here eat stuff that would be a no-no on something like weight watchers but they eat 1/4 of the size of an Australian meal and they take 2 - 3 times as long to eat it. Sweets here are half as sweet and in tiny, tiny portions. At a buffet a piece of cake is like 3cm x 3cm. In Australia I remember buffets with so many cakes and every-one would take a huge slice of cake and pavlova.

    It's a good way to eat Katerpillar.
    It is a good way to eat, although sometimes hard to stick to. I say everything in moderation, using the old 80/20 rule. Eat sensibly and with good portion control 80% of the time and 20% of the time indulge a bit. Then you won't feel deprived but will not lose control either. I should add that I do not always succeed at this, particularly when I'm about to get my period.
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