Do you know what a serving should look like?
Twenty years ago, a basic meal at a fast-food restaurant consisted of a small burger, a handful or two of fries, and an 8-ounce soft drink. Today, your order may include a double- or triple-patty burger, "supersized" fries, and a 20-ounce soda. Portion sizes at home have increased as well.
Of course, what we eat also matters to our health: Large portions of vegetables are not the reason Americans are in an obesity crisis. Experts say that our preferences for calorie-dense foods, as well as our tendency to get too little exercise, also contribute to our expanding waistlines. But out-of-control portions are no doubt a factor.
How does your knowledge of portions stack up? Take this simple quiz and find out:
1. The smallest size coffee you can get at most popular coffeehouses is:
A. 6 oz.
B. 8 oz.
C. 12 oz
D. 16 oz.
2. A typical bagel is equal to how many slices of bread?
3. Most restaurant entrees contain how many standard servings?
4. Steaks served at most restaurants are equal to how many normal meat portions?
5. A normal restaurant portion of baked ziti is equal to:
A. 1 cup
B. 1.5 cups
C. 2 cups
D. 3 cups
6. A bakery-style muffin is equal to how many slices of bread?
7. A pint of juice is equal to how many servings of fruit?
ANSWERS: 1. C; 2. D; 3. B; 4. B-C; 5. D; 6. D; 7. C
Keys to Weight Loss
Monitoring portions is one of the simplest ways to lose weight, says Lisa Young, PhD, RD, author of The Portion Teller.
"The first step toward reducing calories and losing weight is to become more mindful and aware of the portion sizes of the food you are eating," Young says.
Equally important is choosing less calorie-dense foods, experts say.
"There is no problem eating large portions of fruits or vegetables, but that is not what we do," says Young. "Instead, we eat large portions of everyday foods that are much higher in calories."