JEFF TIEDEMAN: Slip slidin' away with popular minisSlider minis make it easy to practice portion control, especially when it can be tough to distinguish between portion sizes and serving sizes.
Are you one of those people who find an 8-ounce burger too big?
In our supersize society, it’s hard to practice portion control when confronted with choices such as this when going to a restaurant to eat.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people eat more when presented with larger portions of food. Even children as young as 2 years are affected by portion size.
And numerous studies and research conducted by reputable institutions — including Mayo — say eating oversized portions is one of the major contributors to our country’s growing obesity epidemic. (Half of Americans are expected to be obese by 2030, and one in three children already is overweight or obese.)
One problem that confronts people is distinguishing the difference between portion sizes and serving sizes. Our judgment has been completely skewed by restaurant portions, food packaging and our own eyes. (For a visual primer on portion sizes, go to www.webmd.com/food-recipes/nutrition-labels-10/serving-sizes-slideshow or www.mayoclinic.com/health/portion-control/NU00267.)
Here are examples of correct portion sizes.
— Baked potatoes: A perfectly portioned one should be about the size of a computer mouse.
— Cheese: A serving of cheese is 1 ounce, or the size of six dice.
— Pancakes: A compact-disc-sized flapjack is the recommended serving size.
— Dried fruit: One serving is about ¼ cup, or about the size of a large egg or golf ball.
— Peanut butter: Two tablespoons, about the size of a pingpong ball, is an appropriate serving size.
— Pasta or rice: A 1-cup serving of pasta or rice should be about the size of a tennis ball.
— Meat: One serving of meat is about 3 ounces, roughly the size of a deck of cards.
On the dining-out scene, things may be looking up for those looking for help with portion control. Just this month, Darden Restaurants, a Florida-based company with 1,900 food establishments — including Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants — announced that it will trim portion sizes and introduce healthier items in the coming years. (Several other chains already have joined the fight, including Applebee’s, McDonald’s and Starbucks.)
Getting back to the 8-ounce burger, I prefer the sliders that are offered at restaurants these days. The minis (two to five per order) are about the size of burgers I make at home.
That’s my idea of portion control.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.