By LAURA GIOVANELLI
It's far easier to picture how much of something you really
should be eating when you talk about portion size in terms of
everyday objects, such as
golf balls, CDs and DVDs,
and, most conveniently,
your fist and thumb --
handy, pardon for the pun, for most of us.
Dietitians are reminding us what proper portion sizes look
like -- really.
"You always have
your hand with you," said
Penny Riordan, a registered dietitian at Forsyth Medical Center in
"People are very visual, and to have the words and the visual
at the same time, it connects," said Amy Fanjoy, a dietitian at
BestHealth Community Health Resource Center in Winston-Salem. "I
think for the majority of people, it helps them."
Many people know that a portion of meat or poultry is about
the size of a
deck of cards, or the
palm of a woman's hand. (A
bar of soap is another good
visual.) That equals about 3 ounces. Men can have slightly more --
Properly portioned servings of fish are 3 and 4 ounces, too,
but if you get a fillet (flounder, trout, etc.) instead of a steak
(such as tuna), it should be the size and dimensions of
checkbook or a
One serving of mayonnaise is about the size of the
tip of your thumb. One
serving of butter or margarine is one teaspoon, or the size of
Multiply that by three dice, and you have a serving of
cheese, about 1 to 1-1/2 ounces.
Prepare to have your mind blown -- a baked potato should be
about the size of
a computer mouse. When was
the last time you saw a baked potato that small? What you get in a
restaurant -- or even the russets you pick up at the grocery store
yourself -- is likely at least twice that size, and easily larger.
"A lot of times it's two or three servings," Fanjoy said.
Bagels should be about the size of a
hockey puck. Few are,
Fanjoy said, so slice them in half to bring them down to size. The
cream cheese on top? At most, use a tablespoon.
Even fruit has been super-sized, Franjoy said. A properly
proportioned apple, peach and the like should be about the size of
a baseball. If it's bigger
-- think about those weirdly large Granny Smith apples in the
produce section -- cut it in half. Pears should be about the size
a standard light bulb. "I
tell people that too much of a good thing is a bad thing," Fanjoy
"It's still calories."
One serving of fresh vegetables, or cut-up fruit or berries,
is 1 cup -- that's about the size of
a woman's clenched fist, or seven
cotton balls. A serving of cooked vegetables is about half
If you're looking for guidance on what one serving of dried
fruit looks like, imagine
a golf ball.
At most, how much peanut butter should you be spreading on
that sandwich? About
a pingpong ball's worth, or
Waffles should be about 4 inches, or about the size of
a CD or DVD. "So when
you're looking at those Belgian waffles, you're getting about four
servings," Fanjoy said.
Be wary of serving-size recommendations on packaged food.
While Riordan was talking to me, she looked at the back of a can of
almonds. It suggested that a serving size was 3 tablespoons, which
is 16 grams of fat. Women should aim for 45 to 60 grams of fat in a
day, while men can have up to 75 grams. So, if you're using that
can as guidance, "that's a third of your fat for the whole day,"
Copyright (c) 2010 Scripps Howard News Service