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Ignore Those Extra-Large “Value” Meals: Official Serving Sizes Are Small And Staying That Way

As the economy slows and you start pinching pennies, think twice about opting to “super size” your fast food meals: Big meals may stretch your budget, but they’ll bust your diet.

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If you’re confused about recommended portion sizes, you’re not alone. Only 1 percent of respondents in a survey conducted last year for the American Institute for Cancer Research correctly gauged serving sizes for a variety of foods. At the same time, sizes for everything from bananas to soft drinks have crept larger the last 20 years.

“If people continually up the ante for what they expect to eat in a single serving, then the calories will be out of control,” says Kelly Brownell, an obesity researcher at Yale University.

The Dietary Guidelines – the federal government’s official advice on healthful eating – and the National Cancer Institute recommend that Americans eat at least five servings a day of fruit and vegetables. The government’s food pyramid calls for eight to 12 servings of grains. This may sound a bit overwhelming – until you look at the actual serving sizes given.

Meanwhile, portion sizes for most prepared and packaged foods you’ll encounter have also grown, so odds are if you eat “just one,” you’re getting far more servings than you think. That “one” morning muffin the size of a softball? Probably three or four servings. That hot dog at lunch? Two servings, easy. That “single serving” of cake should be a square no bigger than two inches per side.

SOURCE: Washington Post, 2001

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