Wednesday, October 6

Size Matters

Check out my breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Café in Kamuela, Hawaii. Notice anything amiss?

First, of course, is the fact that there are pancakes and hash browns with my omelet. Not the best choice since they’re made with white flour and potatoes. But in my defense, these pancakes were ranked as one of America’s Top 10 Pancakes by Travel & Leisure magazine, so I had to try them.

The bigger problem is the portion size. Those two pancakes were a SIDE item. A SIDE!! The omelet was my main course. And don’t get me started on the quantity of hash browns. That’s like a triple-order at the Waffle House.

I normally look like this.

If I ate that amount of food on a regular basis, I’d look like this.

I know, pretty scary right?!?!

You absolutely cannot eat that much food without packing on the pounds. It’s mathematically impossible.

The geek in me likes to think about weight control as a simple equation. Specifically,

(Calories eaten) — (Calories used) = Leftover calories

If you eat more calories than you burn, your body stores the leftover calories as fat and you gain weight. A pound of body weight is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Thus, if you eat 500 extra calories a day (e.g., one Starbucks Blueberry Scone), you’ll gain a pound a week.

To lose weight you have to eat fewer calories than you burn. This is why portion control is so important. Not only do you have to pay attention to what you eat but also, how much you’re eating.

It’s difficult, I know. We live in culture that has a completely distorted view of portion size. Did you see that plate of breakfast food they served me! Everything is Super-sized, value-sized, or Costco-sized. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Costco. But I don’t plan on sitting down and eating a Costco-sized box of anything at one time. No one should.

To get on the right track and familiarize ourselves with a “normal” portion size, I’ve listed some examples of a proper single serving.

Type of Food
Single Serving
About the size of…
Lean meat
3 oz.
A deck of cards
3 oz.
A checkbook
Dry cereal
1 cup
A baseball
1.5 oz.
Three stacked dice
1 Tbls.
A poker chip
1 cup
A baseball
Salad dressing
1 Tbls.
A poker chip
2 Tbls.
A golf ball
Sweet potato

A computer mouse

For more information on portion sizes, click over to WebMD here. It has a great wallet-sized guide to portion control that you can print out and take with you.

Going back to my gargantuan pancakes, according to the portion guide a single serving of pancakes is roughly the size of a compact disc. Hmm, I think I had an entire media library on my plate!

I couldn’t eat everything, nor did I try. Feeling wasteful that 80% of my food was leftover, I was happy to hear they raised pigs behind the restaurant. The waitress claims the pigs thoroughly enjoy everyone’s scraps. Even the bacon. That just seems wrong, doesn’t it?

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