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Getting to the Size of the Matter

by  Shantel Hanley on July 31, 2011
Getting to the Size of the Matter

Have you ever sat down and ate a whole bag of potato chips and wondered where the chips went as you licked the salt out of the bag?

You aren’t the only one. Not being aware of the amount of calories consumed has caused millions to become obese and obesity is especially at staggering rates in the African-American community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one third of American adults are obese. Of those adults, 78 percent of African-American women are overweight or obese, while 71.7 percent of African-American males are overweight or obese, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

To help Americans combat obesity, the government requires fast food restaurants to provide nutritional facts about their meals.  Then in July 2011, the Department of Agriculture altered the food guidelines to include more time for exercising and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables while decreasing the consumption of grains and proteins.

An important fact to remember is that a well-balanced and properly portioned meal can cause weight loss and promote overall health.

“Portion size is the amount of a single food item served in a single eating occasion, such as meal or a snack,” according to the CDC. Eating a well-portion plate of food will prevent overeating causing weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Portions are determined by age, physical activity and sex.

The difference between portions and serving sizes are that portion sizes are customized to an individual’s dietary needs where as “a serving size is the recommended amount of food for healthy eating according to the USDA,” said Ann-Marie Stephens, co-founder of Precise Portions.

An example of serving sizes - adults are recommended to consume about 2 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables, 3 ounces to 8 ounces of wheat, 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy and 5 to 6 ½ ounces of protein daily, according to the USDA.

In addition, portion control gives the body strength.

“For [your body to achieve] optimal performance, you need a variety in the kinds of food that you eat and the portion will have to be right to achieve this,” Stephens said.

Precise Portions makes eating the proper portion easy by providing a dinnerware set that divides the plates, bowls and cups into portions that are related to the new USDA guidelines. “Our dinnerware takes care of [the measurements] for you,” Stephens said.

Eating the correct portion is all up to you. Restaurants give you the food to fuel your body but it is up to you to use the fuel properly.

Some restaurants give you everything you need for a balanced meal.

“Our food is filled with fruits, vegetables, beans, and seasoning,” said Lisa Valle, co-owner and chef of Green Wave Café. Green Wave Café serves organic, sustainable, raw and vegan foods. The restaurant prides itself in creating vegetable-based meals that are low in fat.

One of Valle’s favorite meals is the super nachos which could be paired with a super salad to create a complete meal.

Other restaurants cater to your taste and will give you more or less food if you ask. You can modify the meals ordered according to how much you may want to eat. The goal of that restaurant is to satisfy the customer’s current appetite.

“It is up to you to retrain your eyes to make sure you will get the grain, protein, fruits and vegetables needed to have a balanced meal,” Stephens said.

For more information about the USDA guidelines and the new My Plate which replaced the old food pyramid, visit

Shantel Hanley

Shantel Hanley

Hanley studied print journalism and Spanish at Hampton University. full bio


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