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The Magic of Portion Control
Part 2: Downsizing Versus Supersizing

But what exactly is a portion? Probably not what you think it is. The portions you are served in restaurants and fast food emporiums have increased greatly over the past couple of decades. So have the dishes you use at home. Want proof of the latter? Go into a thrift store or your local Goodwill and check out some of the vintage plates and cups from the 1970s and earlier. They're a lot smaller than the ones you find now at War-Mart or Bed, Bath and Beyond. And how about "supersizing"? You needn't look any farther than the nutritional information page at McDonald's to learn how portion size might affect your waistline. Let's say you want to have a hamburger, fries and a Coke for lunch — and none of that diet soda stuff, either. Okay — a regular hamburger is 260 calories, a small order of fries is 230 and the 12-ounce size Classic Coke has 110 — that's a total of 600 calories, which actually is a pretty decent lunch. A meal like this does not make you fat. Let's supersize it now — a Big Mac® is 560 calories, the large French fries are 520 and the 32-ounce, large Classic Coke weighs in at 310 calories. That's a whopping total of 1,390 calories! Considering that the average person should eat somewhere between 1,600 and 2,200 calories daily, that's overdoing it by quite a bit. Even combining that Big Mac® with the medium-sized French fries and 21-ounce medium Coke isn't that much better — your so-called "medium" meal still runs about 1,120 calories.

(Article continued below.)

While you can probably find a more nutritious meal than a burger, fries and Coke at your favorite fast food restaurant, the problem isn't really in the food itself — it's in the portions. When we used the 12-ounce size Coke in our first example, we didn't mention an important point: that's actually the child size. Did you know that back in your parents' or grandparents' day, Coke came in 6-ounce bottles? And maybe you thought that regular hamburger was a bit on the skimpy side — well, there was a time when that burger was considered just right. If we're fatter now — and there are a bigger percentage of overweight people every year — it's not because of what we're eating. It's because of how much we're eating.

As was mentioned earlier, true weight loss — the kind that sticks — isn't about dieting. It's about changing your way of eating. One thing you can change very easily is the size of your portions. You don't need anything fancy to do this — perhaps a few measuring cups at the beginning so that you learn what a correct portion is. A cheap little food scale would be helpful too. You'll also need some resolve — you may be unpleasantly surprised at first when you discover what a portion really consists of. And lastly, you'll either need a calculator, or the ability to do a little multiplication and division in your head — this comes in handy when you're at the market, reading those "Nutrition Facts" labels (that's another portion control danger area).

Next page >> So How Much Is a Serving Size — Really? >> Page 1, 2, 3

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