Think you're serving-size savvy? We put HG staffers, friends, and family members to the test to see just how well we're all able to ID portions of certain foods. The results are ALARMING...
If you're a label-reader, you already know that filling your cereal bowl to the brim will give you WAY more calories than a single serving's worth. (And if you DON'T know this, you might want to watch this HG video.) But just how good are you at eyeballing that 3/4-cup to 1-cup serving? Here's what we found...
* More than HALF of our participants overestimated a single serving by at least 25%.
* A THIRD over-poured by a whopping 30%.
* ONE-SIXTH of those who took part overestimated their servings by a ginormous 40%! That means the supposed 120-calorie, 3g-fat serving really contained closer to 170 calories and more than 4g fat.
The Takeaway: While a few dozen extra calories may not seem like much, it adds up. Members of the middle group above would each be taking in about 1,000 extra calories per month, if they ate a supposed 120-calorie serving of cereal daily.
Tips & Tricks: If you don't want to measure out your favorite b-fast cereal each A.M., at least do it ONCE so you can see what a serving truly looks like. Also, don't eat from an oversized bowl -- it's too easy to overdo it. And don't forget to count the calories in your milk. (We love you, Almond Breeze!)
Possibly the most unrealistic of serving sizes, a portion of ice cream is only 1/2 cup. Still, we expected we'd be able to estimate that amount pretty easily. Not so. Check it out...
* The average estimation among ALL our participants was 20% MORE than 1/2 cup!
Shocker! Those portioning out plain vanilla ice cream over-scooped by MORE than those working with chunky cookie dough ice cream. Perhaps we're more cautious with decadent stuff???
* The more the ice cream softened, the more people overestimated their portions. Remember, that 1/2-cup serving is based on LIGHTLY PACKED ice cream. So if it's getting soft and dense, you might want to toss it on a kitchen scale to be sure the weight matches up!
Shocker! To test out that theory we just mentioned, we measured out EXACTLY 1/2 cup of cookie dough ice cream that was a little melty and gooey. Instead of the 54 grams indicated on the label, it tipped the scales at a hefty 90 grams! That means rather than having 130 calories and 4g fat, our 1/2-cup scoop actually contained 216 calories and more than 6.5g fat! Yikes!
Common Serving-Size Slip-Ups
Watch out for these sneaky suspects, and follow our tips to outsmart 'em...
Salad dressing and sauces. Sure, you select the low-cal kind, but are you really sticking to a single portion? A 2-tbsp. serving doesn't look like much, especially when drizzled over a big salad or stir-fry. You can easily top your meal with a double serving without even realizing it.
HG Tips! Have your dressing or sauce on the side -- then dip, don't pour. And check out those spray dressings all the companies are making. A little goes a loooooong way with 'em, and there are some fantastic-tasting options. (We love Wish-Bone Asian Silk and Ken's Honey Mustard the most!)
Nonstick cooking spray. It's only calorie-free and sans-fat if you use the minuscule serving size of a 1/4-second to 1/2-second spray. A 1-second spray of most brands has about 7 calories and just under a gram of fat. Not a huge difference, but it's good to be aware of, especially if you use it like it's goin' out of style. (It's not.)
HG Tips! Next time you spray away, count it off in your head. If you're spritzing for 5 seconds, tack about 35 extra calories and 4g fat onto your totals. And if you find yourself cooking with an obscene amount of the stuff without paying much attention to it, you may be better off measuring out a teaspoon or so of regular oil and using that instead -- at least you'll be more conscious of the calorie and fat counts.
Protein. If you often order grilled chicken at a restaurant, you probably pat yourself on the back for making such a good choice. And while it IS a good choice, don't forget to take portion size into account. What you think is a reasonable 4 ounces could actually be closer to 8. And with about 35 calories per ounce, that definitely adds up.
HG Tips! Next time you're whipping up some poultry in the comfort of your own home, weigh a serving of the stuff to get a good visual of what it should look like. Or use the old standby: A 3-oz. portion is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. Just don't kid yourself by envisioning the hand of your plump-palmed uncle or your set of oversized HG recipe cards.
CHEW ON THIS: Today, February 25th, is National Chocolate-Covered Peanut Day. There are about 11 calories in each Peanut M&M. Feel free to use this information for assembling your own 100-calorie packs! Er, make that 99-calorie packs...
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*The PointsPlus® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
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