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Attack of the Monster Serving

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc.* -

Sizeable servings equal a wide waistline! Many of us make the mistake of believing we can eat all we want of healthy foods and not gain weight. But that`s not the case. Not only should you vary your food and prepare it in a healthy way, but you should also pay attention to the size of your food portions to remain healthy and keep your weight under control.

However, a widespread trend threatens this basic principle of healthy living. Restaurants and fast-food chains have started serving huge helpings in an effort to satisfy their customers.

Monster-sized mistake

In the United States, the "bigger is better" mindset has taken over more so than in any other part of the world. An article published in Reader`s Digestreports that a croissant made in the United States weighs 4 ounces and provides 430 calories, while a croissant made in France (the country where it originated) weighs just 2 ounces and provides only 215 calories – half that of the American croissant.

Also, french fries served at a popular American hamburger chain weigh 8 ounces and provide 610 calories, while the same fast-food restaurant in France serves french fries that weigh 5 ½ ounces and provide only 468 calories.

In Italy, coffee shops serve cappuccinos in 4 ½ ounce cups, while coffee shops in the United States serve them in cups that are 12 ounces or larger, to which of course you need to add three to four times the sugar.

Double doses

The size and weight of servings have doubled since the 1970s, according to an article in Shape Magazine. Some of the bigger servings include bagels, muffins, potato chips, hamburgers, pasta served at restaurants, and even popcorn. Although enormous servings in restaurants and shops are not the only factors contributing to the increase of obesity in the United States and in other countries, they do play an important role, especially as the number of people who eat out continues to increase.

Super-size it? As a marketing strategy, many fast-food chains offer to upgrade the serving size and even the size of the soft drink you order for only a few more cents. These larger meals come with catchy names such as super size, biggie and double.
Who can resist this temptation? After all – more is better. Right? But few people realize the impact that this offer has on their calorie count, not to mention the impact on your diet of increasing the servings of food already rich in fat and unnecessary calories.

Free refills
Many restaurants attract customers by giving away free refills of already gigantic servings of soft drinks. In the United States, we not only have huge 24- to 44-ounce cups of soft drink (while Europe`s largest serving size is a 12-ounce glass adorned with a slice of lime), but we also get a free refill when we finish. In an attempt at good service, the waiter or waitress will replace our glass of soft drink before we ever finish the first one. We then feel obligated to drink at least a portion of it as a show of gratitude to the server.

Excessive eating Follow the suggestions below for attacking the huge servings:
• Place more importance on eating healthy portions than on getting more for your money.
• When possible, don`t order an appetizer, or if you do, choose a healthy appetizer and a smaller entrée.
• Take home part of your entree to share with others or to eat the next day.
• Order a delicious serving of fruit instead of a dessert with a tempting appearance.
• Drink water or diet soft drinks instead of traditional soft drinks.

*Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango, Inc.


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