Make That 8 Fries Please

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/10/2006 9:12:19 PM

Use common objects to visualize food portions. For example, a baseball is about the same size as a cup of breakfast cereal; a tennis ball, a half cup of grapes or cooked rice; a 1-inch wood cube, an ounce of cheese; or a deck of cards, 3 ounces of meat.

News You Can Use For April 2006

Eating only 100 more calories a day than you burn can lead to a weight gain of 10 pounds a year. With today’s larger portions, it’s easy to consume 100 extra calories, and more, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

A hundred calories are only about eight french fries. A comparison between common portion sizes and those recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed the following:

– Cookies were as much as seven times standard portion sizes.

– Servings of cooked pasta were often nearly five times standard portion sizes.

– Muffins weighed more than three times standard portion sizes.

"Reading the nutrition label can give helpful information, but it’s important to use the information correctly," Reames emphasizes. For example, a cereal label may say a serving size is ½-cup.

To check yourself, pour out your usual serving size and measure it. Then, compare it to the label serving size. Many people are surprised that they’re eating two, three, four or more times the amount on the label.

A recent study reported the amount of cereal eaten by adults was approximately twice the serving size listed on the box.

"This may be one place calories are sneaking into your meals," Reames points out.

Regular soft drinks packaged in 20-ounce or larger containers may show a fairly low number of calories per serving. The 20-ounce container, however, is supposed to provide 2.5 or more servings, and many people drink it as one serving.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans usually eat everything or almost everything on their plates, according to a 2001 survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Also, studies have shown that more food on the plate usually means people eat more. In one study conducted at Pennsylvania State University, lean young men ate 10 ounces of a 16-ounce portion of macaroni but increased the amount they ate to15 ounces when offered 25 ounces of macaroni.

Here are some examples of food portions that are approximately 100 calories each: 16 peanuts, 20 baked potato chips, ⅔-ounce regular chips (or half a snack bag), 3cups air-popped popcorn, 1 ½ cups regular microwave popcorn, 1-ounce slice of cheddar cheese, one large apple (3 ¼ -inch diameter), 1 ⅓ chocolate chip cookies (2 ¼-inch diameter), one brownie (2-inch square), one large scrambled egg, 1 ½ slices of bread, eight french fries, 33 grapes, 3 teaspoons margarine, 2 ½ slices of bacon, 8 ounces soft drink, 8 ounces orange juice, 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter, ⅓ cup vanilla ice cream, one large head of lettuce, ⅓ chocolate candy bar; four large dill pickles, 1 cup cappuccino and 4 crackers.

The LSU AgCenter offers a healthy weight program called Portions. This program provides information on nutrition, physical activity and eating habits to help people adopt healthier lifestyles.

For additional information about Portions, contact the Extension agent in your parish. For related nutrition information, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or

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