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Fight obesity with portion control

by Nancy Maneely

Portion ControlIt seems that in America, everything of value must be available super-sized. From our Big Gulps to our TV screens, many of us subscribe to the belief that “bigger is better.”

But as Morgan Spurlock discovered and documented in the book and film “Super Size Me,” bigger can also mean deadlier in the case of our food portions. And as we know, Americans have gotten bigger as our penchant for oversized food portions has continued to expand over the years.

Remember 6-ounce bottles of Coke? That used to be what we got when we wanted a refreshing drink of soda on a hot day. Today we roll into the 7-Eleven and tank up with a 64-ounce cup!

Is it time for the government to step in? Well, it already has in the case of New York City, where Mayor Bloomberg’s famous health crusade recently imposed limits on the size of soft drinks sold. Of course, there are plenty of ways to get around those restrictions, and you can bet that New Yorkers will be taking advantage of them.

Government is right to impose limits on portion sizes as part of its strategy for combatting America's obesity epidemic, argues Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in an article written for the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Americans consume many more calories than needed, and the excess is leading to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality," writes Farley in the article, which was published in the September 16 issue of JAMA.

Most of us are shocked when we learn the recommended portion sizes for common foods. We tend to gauge our idea of portion sizes from restaurant servings – a very bad idea!

WebMD offers easy-to remember guidelines for portion sizes. Here are a few examples to help you with everyday foods. Your portions should be comparable in size to the following:

Meat/Protein:
Almonds (1/4 cup) = golf ball
Lean beef or chicken (3 oz.) = deck of cards
Cooked beans (1/2 cup) = light bulb
Cooked fish (3 oz) = checkbook
Hummus (2 tbs) = golf ball
Lunchmeat (1 oz) = compact disc

Vegetables:
Baked Potato = computer mouse
Broccolli, carrots, leafy greens = baseball

Fruits:
Apple = baseball
Banana = 1 pencil length (about 8 inches)
Blueberries (1/2 cup) = light bulb
Dried fruit = golf ball

Grains:
Bread slice = cassette tape
Couscous, pasta, rice (1 cup cooked) = baseball

Milk/Dairy:
Hard cheese (1 oz) = 3 dice
Ice cream or frozen yogurt = light bulb
Yogurt (8 oz cup) = baseball

Fats/Oils:
Butter, margarine, mayonnaise or dressing (1 tsp) = 1 poker chip

Sweets:
Brownie (2 oz) = 1 pkg dental floss
Cake (3.5 oz) = deck of cards
Cookie = 2 poker chips
Muffin = hockey puck

Try to adjust your portion sizes using the guidelines above, and you’ll see the excess pounds begin to melt away. At first it can be hard, but remember this is the NORMAL way of eating for which we humans were designed. After awhile, your body and mind will make the adjustment. You’ll feel more energetic, live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

Share your portion-control tips with our readers!

Sources:
WebMD
Food Safety News

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