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Archive for January, 2011

Eyeballing serving sizes

Eyeballing serving sizes: a visual guide

As I often tell my clients, if you happen to be cooking and eating at home, it is a great idea to measure your food on occasion, as a way to gauge how much food you actually eat. (Most of us think we eat less—often much less—than we actually eat.) But if you don’t have easy access to a food scale, or if you regularly eat out, it’s helpful to use everyday objects to visualize healthy portions.

To help you eyeball some standard serving sizes, here are some simple visuals from my book The Portion Teller Plan. I have developed a set of useful images of real life objects, like baseballs and walnuts, as dimensional indicators for standard serving sizes of commonly consumed foods.  Because most of us can visualize these objects, it’s a great way to keep portions in check. It makes you think about how much food you’re piling on your plate.

  • Nuts, 1/4 cup = golf ball
  • Salad dressing or olive oil, 2 tablespoons = shot glass
  • Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons = walnut in a shell
  • Ice cream, ½ cup = ½ baseball
  • Cheese, 2 oz = 8 dice
  • Pasta or rice, 1 cup = baseball
  • Oil, 1 teaspoon = water-bottle cap
  • Meat, fish, or poultry, 3 ounces = deck of cards
  • Bread, 1 ounce slice = CD case

Here’s a slide show I worked on with with useful visuals. Enjoy!

The Australian edition of Woman’s Day featured a full page article on some of the visuals from The Portion Teller Plan. [ NOTE: The Aussies have become big like us so they can use some portion-control tips.]

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Starbucks debuts quart size drinks!

Starbucks debuts quart-size beverages

Starbucks recently announced the introduction of a new larger size beverage to appear in US coffee shops nationwide in May: the 31-oz Trenta. It will be available for iced beverages—iced coffees, teas, and lemonade. Do we really need a quart size beverage for one person?! It is the company’s largest drink size to date and will cost only 50 cents more than the 24-oz Venti-size iced drinks.  Starbucks says it is responding to consumer demand for larger cold beverages. Are we really requesting bigger sizes??

We know that consuming liquid calories can lead to weight gain. So many people forget to count the calories they drink and some large-size drinks contain mega calories–more than 500 calories. And that is without the pastry.

Here is my advice: order a “Tall” instead. Yes—only America, is “Tall” the “Small”, but nonetheless, it is beats the Grande, Venti, or Trenta. And try for a non-fat skim latte or cappuccino—at least you’ll get calcium from the milk.

Click here to read more:

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McDonald’s Japan beefing up portions!

McDonald’s Japan is beefing up portions!

Americans are fat enough. And McDonald’s certainly hasn’t helped the situation by offering jumbo portions of cheap unhealthy foods. Yes—the company did away with its 42 oz “Supersize” soda after the movie Super Size Me debuted in 2004 (I made an appearance discussing growing portion sizes in the US.) The largest soda today is a 32-oz quart, called “Large.” (This 32-oz “Large”, by the way, was the same size of the original “Supersize” when first marketed in 1988.) As I wrote in The Portion Teller Plan, and in several academic papers with my NYU colleague Dr Marion Nestle, today’s Large is nearly 5 times the original size soda, which was a mere 7 oz (no where to be found today), when McDonald’s opened in the 1950s.

Well now, McDonald’s Japan is beginning to supersize some of its menu offerings. As reported in the Wall Street Journal last week, in an effort to boost sagging sales, McDonald’s Japan is introducing the “Big America2” series menu featuring several jumbo burgers named after US locales. The Idaho burger—containing beef, cheese, bacon, deep fried hash browns– set to debut at the end of January will contain more than 700 calories! McDonald’s is hoping it’s calorie laden burgers will be good for business.  As the authors Mariko Sanchanta and Yoree Koh write: “McDonald’s is banking on oversized burgers stuffed with nachos, hash browns or chili.”  And the company is going to use twitter and bloggers to spread the word.

Obesity rates in Japan are currently much lower than they are in the US. Pretty soon, however, if McDonald’s Japan supersizes its other menu offerings, the Japanese may become supersized like us. Hopefully not.

Here’s a healthful tip: When in Japan, choose sushi, veggies, and brown rice!!

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