Yesterday I wrote about portion sizes, complaining that good nutritional information tends to be published alongside luxuriously unhealthy recipes and other consumption-oriented material. On Wednesday the Free Press basically turns its Life and Entertaiment section into a Food section, with articles about cooking, recipes and a wine column. Today, I found an article out of the Canadian Press covering the start of Nutrition Month – March is Nutrition month for the Dieticians of Canada. This year they are emphasizing portion size.
One interesting fact – a 12 inch sub bun contains 6 servings of grain. The recommended daily number of servings of grain, according to a publication called Canada’s Guide to Healthy Eating is 5 to 12. Another fact – the recommended standard portion of grain, cooked as pasta, is half a cup. The usual restaurant serving tends to be about 3 cups, or 6 servings. The restaurant meal contains all the grain, perhaps all the food you might eat in a day. Another way of looking at it – the restaurant meal is probably three times the size it should be, unless you are exercising a lot.
The Guide portions sound skimpy in themselves – well they are. The Guide suggests that a person needs 14 servings or portions a day – 5 grain, 5 vegetable, 2 milk and 2 meat or alternatives. So, a small sub for lunch and a pasta meal using one cup of pasta would provide about 5 servings of grain and whatever meat, cheese and vegetables you chose to add. Many people can and should eat more depending on their size and level of activity.
The newspaper article quotes dieticians talking about snack foods and the idea is to snack if your regular meal is delayed or if there is a long gap between meals. You don’t want to go into a meal feeling like you’re starving because it encourages overeating. The snacks still count, so they should be light. I think dieticians don’t see any real use for potato chips and salted nuts. They suggest a chewy snack – it doesn’t go down as fast and it feels satisfying.
Another suggestion (not from the Dieticians – this comes out of a discussion with my sister Joyce) if you are used to eating seconds and don’t feel right without a second helping, give yourself a small first helping, and serve yourself a second helping and enjoy your meal.
The Dieticians site have Adobe pdf fact sheets on portion size. The black and white version may be quicker to load.