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Key ingredient for a healthy diet: Portion control

Fighting that thickening of the middle that seems to come with age requires one thing above all else - firm control of how much you eat. A number of studies indicate that portion size is more closely correlated with the number of calories you take in than is the quality or type of food you eat.

Here's a quick pop quiz to determine your portion control prowess.


Q. Your "portion" of food should be the amount listed as a "serving" on the Nutrition Facts label.

a) Yes

b) No

c) It depends

A. c) It depends. A serving size listed on the Nutrition Facts label is a standardized amount of food as determined by the Food and Drug Administration, so consumers can compare the calories and nutrients among brands. It is not necessarily a recommended portion - the amount of food you choose to eat at one sitting - though it is a good yardstick.


Q. A two-tablespoon serving of peanut butter is roughly equal in size to:

a) A pair of dice.

b) A ping-pong ball.

c) Your pinkie finger.

A. b) A ping-pong ball. Though peanut butter packs a wallop of fat (16 grams) and calories (190), at least it provides nutrient-rich calories, and half the fat is as nutritious mono fats. So don't avoid it, but do keep that ping-pong ball visual in mind when making your next PB&J - or when tempted to just dig in with a spoon.


Q. Twenty years ago, an average serving of movie theater popcorn was five cups. Today it's:

a) 6 cups

b) 9 cups

c) 11 cups

A. c) 11 cups. What used to be a reasonable treat, providing 270 calories, now weighs in at 630 calories. And that's not even the biggest; some buckets hold 16 cups of corn. If you add "butter topping," it can top 1,500 calories - a day's worth for some people.


Q. How much more chocolate candy do you think people eat, on average, from a one-pound bag versus a half-pound bag?

a) About twice as much.

c) About four times as much.

A. a) About twice as much. According to research conducted by Brian Wansink, PhD, on leave from Cornell University, when participants ate from a half-pound bag, they ate 71 pieces of chocolate versus 137 pieces when dipping into a pound-size bag.


Q. True or False? People eat about the same volume of food each day.

A. True. Many studies have shown this.

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