Portion Distortion

Most operating room lounges provide food for the surgeons, residents and medical students.  In our operating room it’s usually bagels and muffins.  The muffins don’t seem that big… until you realize they are at least 2 servings each!  Check out this picture from fooducate.com.

Here’s a lot more eye opening examples: http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/

Knowledge is power when it comes to your diet – particularly if you are trying to lose weight (or at least not gain weight).  One of the biggest eye openers for people struggling with weight is to learn about the “portion distortion” that has occurred over the last decade or two.   This information will not only help you counsel patients, it will help you “walk the walk” by taking care of your own nutrition.   Weight gain is extremely common during clinical rotations and residency.  If you are interested in losing weight, or at least preventing weight gain, one of the first steps is getting a grasp on normal serving sizes, food groups and how many servings of each food group you should eat.

Here’s a good list of how to “eyeball” what constitutes a single serving (from Webmd.com)

  • Vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist.
  • Pasta is about the size of one scoop of ice cream.
  • Meat, fish, or poultry is the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm (minus the fingers).
  • Snacks such as pretzels and chips is about the size of a cupped handful.
  • Apple is the size of a baseball.
  • Potato is the size of a computer mouse.
  • Bagel is the size of a hockey puck.
  • Pancake is the size of a compact disc.
  • Steamed rice is the size of a cupcake wrapper.
  • Cheese is the size of a pair of dice or the size of your whole thumb (from the tip to the base).

Ultimately, a healthy diet should have (roughly) 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetable, 6 servings of grains or starches,  2-3 servings of milk or milk products and 1-2 servings of meat in a day.  One of the best resources to learn about how to plan your healthy diet is Canada’s Food Guide.  With all due respect to the USDA, the USDA Food pyramid is just not quite as intuitive (although it’s very complete!)

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