Wellness Jackie’s Way: Portions and servings

Every summer I look forward to teaching nutrition to the students attending summer camp at the Academy of International Ballet in Garnet Valley. We started out this summer’s sessions with discussing food portions and the difference between a portion and a serving. Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Most people probably think of it as the same thing. But technically speaking, a portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package or at home. A serving, or serving size, is the amount of food listed on a product’s nutrition facts, or food label.

Servings vs Portions: The catch is, a serving size has changed over the years requiring you to be more aware of what you are eating. To demonstrate this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed some food and beverage serving sizes so that food labels more closely match how much people actually eat and drink. Yikes!

Given that there is an obesity epidemic at hand, I wonder if this is a good change. For example, a serving size of ice cream is now 2/3cup instead of 1/2cup. Yet a serving of yogurt is 6 ounces rather than 8 ounces. Apparently, some serving sizes on food labels may be larger or smaller than they had been before. However, and here’s the rub: The serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount you should eat depending on your age, weight, whether you're male or female and your activity level.

Portion Distortion: A bagel 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories. That was considered one serving. Today’s bagels are 4.5 inches and have 360 calories and are considered one serving. A cheeseburger 20 years ago had 33 calories. Today’s cheeseburgers are running 430 calories and top that off wit16-ounce refillable soda and you are consuming 900-plus liquid calories for a total meal (if that’s all you eat) of more than 1300 calories.

What about the rest of the day’s calorie consumption? Not to mention one’s activity level on that particular day. Bottom line: it’s too many calories.

We already know that too many calories can affect your weight and health. So how many calories should we be eating? Estimates range from 1600 to 2400 calories per day for adult women and 2000 to 3000 calories per day for adult men. Within each age and gender category, the low end of the range applies to sedentary individuals and the high end applies to active individuals. Due to reductions in basal metabolic rate that occur with aging, calorie needs generally decrease for adults as we age. Estimated needs for young children range from 1000 to 2000 calories per day and the range for older children and adolescents varies substantially from 1400 to 3200 with boys generally having higher calorie needs than girls. These are only estimates. (https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/)

Once you know approximately how many calories you should be eating, then you gauge how many servings you can eat if it’s from a packaged food, being mindful that many packaged food contains more than a single serving.

5 Tips for Managing Food Portions at Home:

  • Eat meals at regular times. Avoid leaving more than 4 hours between meals or skipping meals.
  • Use smaller dishes, bowls, and glasses so that you eat and drink less.
  • Eat fewer high-fat, high-calorie foods such as desserts, chips, sauces, and prepackaged snacks.
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV or while you are busy with other activities.
  • Freeze food you won’t serve right away to avoid feeling tempted to finish the whole batch.

5 Tips for Managing Food Portions When Eating Out:

  • Share a meal with a friend, or take half of it home.
  • Order one or two healthy appetizers or side dishes instead of a whole meal.
  • Ask to remove the bread basket from the table
  • Order steamed or grilled entrees; salad dressings on the side; roasted veggies.
  • Avoid all you can eat buffets and consider Brunch as one regular size meal instead of eating two meals at one time.

Additional Food Label Facts: The updated food label also includes information about “added sugars.” This is great news. Not only does it draw your attention to sugar but the importance of added sugars. Added sugars include table sugar, or sucrose, beet and cane sugars, corn syrup, honey, malt syrup and other sweeteners such as fructose or glucose that have been added to food and beverages.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 calls for consuming less than 10 percent of calories daily from added sugars. Another way to measure this is to consume no more than six teaspoons daily (20 grams) or 100 calories for women and no more than nine teaspoons daily (36 grams) or 150 calories for men.

At the ballet school, we determined that most of the girls (teenagers) were in the 2000-2400 calorie range given their high activity level, dancing eight hours daily. For the boys (same high activity level) the range was 3200 to 3400. Afterward, we made yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit and 6 ounces of vanilla yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

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About Jackie Tate

Jackie Tate has been working in the health and fitness industry for 25 years. She has a master’s of science degree in health education and a bachelor’s of science degree in nutrition, both from Penn State. Early in her career she was recruited by Johnson & Johnson to work in their diabetes division during which time she earned her diabetes educator certification. In 2009, she developed a health and wellness consulting business. Tate’s Wellness Company enables her to work with individuals to create personalized dietary plans using a one-on-one consultation approach. She conducts personal training sessions and leads fitness classes at Way Martial Arts in West Chester, Darlington Arts in Garnet Valley, and the Concord Country Club in Concord Township. Jackie is a certified fitness trainer, Silver Sneakers and zumba Instructor. Additionally, she teaches nutrition to students attending the Academy of International Ballet in Glen Mills. Lamb McErlane, PC is one of Jackie’s corporate clients where she delivers nutritious Lunch N Learn sessions for employees as part of their on-going commitment to wellness. Jackie has a passion for inspiring people to lead healthier lifestyles through optimal nutrition and fitness. Tate4foodandfitness.com Tate4foodandfitness@verizon.net

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