One of the most frequent questions that I get asked is about serving sizes. The number of servings of specific types of foods that are right for you depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. But just how big is a serving?
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a serving size is in the eye of the diner. Just as beauty can vary according to who is doing the looking, a serving size can differ depending on who is doing the eating. But there is where you can get into trouble.
Weight control can be boiled down to serving size and exercise. We all know what exercise involves, it means movement in any way, shape or form. The other side of that coin is serving size, often a delusional self-determined entity.
Get out your measuring cup for this exercise. Pour out ½ cup of your favorite juice, now, that’s a serving. Twice that amount, 1 cup or 8 ounces, is a serving of milk or water. Looking at fluids through a measuring cup makes drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day not that impossible.
Starchy foods and vegetables are really going to surprise you. Just ½ cup of rice or pasta, potatoes, corn or peas is a serving. That’s the size of a half of a baseball or a small fist. How many servings of pasta does the average dinner plate hold? Measure it.
A serving of a meat is 3 ounces, cooked, that’s the size of a deck of cards or the palm of a woman’s hand. A baked potato serving is as big as a computer mouse, and a pancake or waffle compares with a 4-inch CD. A baseball is as big as an apple or orange needs to be. Canned fruit and vegetable servings are only as much as ½ cup. One half a bun or bagel is a serving. Remember, anything bigger than these examples, is another serving. This is where the servings and the calories add up.
Once I went on a serving size campaign at home. I served only one of the appropriate serving sizes to my family during dinner. My family wanted to know why I cooked so much food if she could only have a little bit of it. It was a learning experience.
You, too, can play this game. The next time you go out to dinner, try to count the number of servings that you receive. Those little dishes that you get applesauce in are only 4-ounce bowls. It may not seem like much, but five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can supply important vitamins and minerals and with plenty of antioxidants to ward off cancer. If you are watching your calories, order once and enjoy twice. Take the extra servings home for later.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]