Beware Nutritional Trap of Salad Dressings

Posted August 25th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in health, nutrition, weight loss

This week, a little 411 on salad dressings (and share this with any friends in the restaurant business).

Ahhh, salad. Low calorie roughage, healthy veggies … sounds healthy. Intentions are great, but guess what? If you add “regular” salad dressing, you might as well skip the salad and just eat the burger you really wanted. Salad dressings are a real nutritional trap.

Let’s look at restaurants. A typical salad dressing ladle holds 2 ounces, or 4 tablespoons of dressing. The average restaurant uses two ladles, or eight tablespoons of dressing on your salad.

I normally recommend only 2 tablespoons of dressing, which would be one half of one ladle. Remember, a typical restaurant is giving you FOUR TIMES as much. You’ll see, by the chart below, that the low-cal or fat-free dressings make a measurable difference in how your week stacks up, nutritionally.

Keep in mind that an average woman needs to hold her daily fat intake to less than 60 grams of fat, and a man, to less than 80 grams.

    2 tablespoons of salad dressing (my recommended portion)

Ranch Regular -148 calories, 15.6 g fat (4x = over 60 g of fat in 2 ladles)

Ranch Lite (low-fat) – 80 calories, 6 g fat

Ranch Fat-Free – 48 calories, 0.3 g fat

Creamy Italian – 110 calories, 12 g fat (4x = 48 g of fat in 2 ladles)

Lite Italian – 50 calories, 5g fat

Fat-free Italian – 20 calories, 0.3 g fat

Balsamic Vinaigrette – 90 calories, 8 g fat (a better choice)

Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette – 45 calories, 3.5 g fat

Bottom line: one salad, with two ladles of dressing, once a week, can easily be the equivalent of a whole day’s worth of fat intake. Ingest a little fat at breakfast and from your other meal, and that salad dressing can take you over your daily allotment – the exact opposite of your intentions.

Instead, ask for salad dressings “on the side” and order the “low-fat” version. Then either dip your fork or salad in the dressing rather than pouring it on. You’ll save hundreds – or thousands – of fat grams in a year.

How can you guesstimate the 2-tablespoon serving size I’m recommending? The top of your thumb is equal to about 1 tablespoon. A ping-pong ball or shot glass or an Oreo cookie is about 2 tablespoons. At that quantity, even the biggest offender – regular ranch – is only one fourth or less of your daily recommended fat allotment.

Restaurants average 10 cents in cost per 2 tablespoons of regular dressing. Two ladles is thus .40 cents worth; a 2-tablespoon serving on the side would save .30 per salad (and 45 g of fat, per salad, per customer).

If, for example, 94 restaurants implemented salad dressing awareness they could save customers 38,070,000 grams of FAT and $296,100.00 in just 30 days. One restaurant has potential quarterly savings of $9,450 (and saves its customers 1,215,000 grams of fat).

I declare August, not only back to school month, but Salad Dressing Awareness month!

Summer Vacation Helps the Body; Make Yours Healthy

Summer is vacation time. As a nutritionist and registered dietitian, I advocate for all the facets of healthy lifestyles, and near the top of the list is substantial time off from the daily grind. Don’t underestimate the importance of a vacation; your body actually needs the break, no matter what your circumstances are.

Daily life hurls all sorts of small stresses at us. The hormones released during short-term stressful situations actually help us to make quick decisions and avoid trouble. But too many of those hormones can actually deteriorate the cardiovascular system.

If you’re already at risk for heart disease, or have some risk factors working against you, the last thing you want to do is stay on the stress train. Most doctors will tell you your body needs a vacation. And by this, they don’t mean hanging out at the mall near the house, with your cell phone. A complete change of scenery and routine is what’s required to help the body rejuvenate and heal.

If you’ve got a Type A person in your world, put this article in front of that person and recommend a true getaway: no office politics, no irritating neighbors, no repairs that need to be made.

Next, don’t set up yourself for added stress when you get home. One week of weight gain can take months to lose, and every time you button tight pants, you’ll feel a twinge of disappointment in yourself.
Make a commitment to having a healthy vacation. Get in the mindset that you’re leaving for health reasons, and you want to feel as good as possible upon your return.

This is not to say you can’t indulge a little bit – an occasional “cheat” day is a good idea even at home. But promising yourself true rest, some form of pleasurable exercise and relatively healthy food can really start an exciting (and beneficial) new phase of your life.

Here are some tips which will help you avoid vacation weight gain. If you’ll have access to a kitchen, take your George Foreman grill and electric skillet and go to the grocery store. You’ll save a fortune, which you can spend on activities and attractions.

In many hotels, you can request a mini fridge and microwave, even if they’re not normally in the room. During a recent Orlando conference, the Ritz-Carlton charged me next to nothing for both. So I had all the health foods and drinks with me that I wanted, and spent far less eating out.

Odds are high you’ll patronize restaurants on vacation. Commit three rules to memory and they will make a big difference in your waistline over the coming years.
1. Never, never, never get regular salad dressing. Request a low-fat dressing.
2. Always, always, always ask for the salad dressing on the side.
3. No no no fried foods; order baked, boiled, broiled or blackened. Fast food is a trap – avoid it if possible, but if not, steer clear of fried foods, cheese and fatty condiments.

If you’re staying in a hotel with free continental breakfast, stay away from the pastries, doughnuts and hash browns. Instead, choose whole-grain breads and cereals, low-fat yogurt, fruits, and eggs (a good source of protein). Keep in mind you can still make oatmeal with the in-room coffee maker.

Also plan your vacation to include physical activity. If you’ll be in an urban area, check online for Ys, family parks or a family rec center. We try to plan activities within our vacation that are fun physical components, such as bike riding. Take a hike, play basketball, do a quick workout, and try something new. Even things you’re bad at (badminton, anyone?) create fun family memories while setting a healthy pattern.

Kitchen Wall Color has Diet Impact

Your kitchen is the center of your nutritional hub. It’s where you make your decisions on how (and how often) to fuel your own body, and the bodies of others you may be responsible for feeding. For some of you, it’s also the place where meals are served and consumed: at a bar or island, for example, or a casual kitchen table.

You’ve already taken control of what goes in your refrigerator; now summer’s your chance to take control of the mood your kitchen sets. Believe it or not, the color of your kitchen walls can have an impact on your diet. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate how you want your kitchen to make you feel, and seize the day.

First of all, there’s a reason that McDonald’s, Burger King and every fast food restaurant known to man incorporates red and yellow in their logos and décor. Want to guess why?

Let’s start with yellow. This cheery hue is good for optimism and hope. But it also stimulates the appetite, pure and simple. You just thought you wanted a salad … now you want a Big Mac with fries.

Yellow is happy, but to overweight people, it can also be a tad dangerous when applied to kitchen walls. Better to let a good workout stimulate the appetite than the mere presence of a color. Unless, of course, you are underweight.

Need to beef up? Head for the yellow section of the paint store and slather it on. Think butter, egg yolks, lemons … mmm, I’m getting hungry already. But yellow helps the memory, so it could be useful if mom’s not available for a recipe consult.

Orange stimulates learning. If you’re a new cook, or aspiring chef or nutritionist, opt for orange.

As for red, it is a complex color, perhaps the most of all. Red engages us and brings out our emotions. Here’s the amazing thing about this color: to calm people, it is exciting, in a good way, a little thrilling. But for folks who are more anxious in nature, red is disturbing. The last thing you want is to be disturbed eight to 12 times a day, so be honest with yourself about your nature, and that of others with whom you may live.

Red walls trigger the release of adrenaline (which can be good for cooking, I suppose). And like yellow, it also stimulates the appetite, while simultaneously stimulating the sense of smell. Red walls can also increase your blood pressure and breathing rate.

Blue is opposite of yellow, on the color wheel, and in terms of appetite. It decreases blood pressure, the breathing rate, and the desire to eat, as do indigo and violet. So if you’re determined to drop 20, 30, even 40 pounds … coat your walls in hues of blueberries, grapes or plums. This will also remind you to eat antioxidants, which is a good thing. You win on two counts!

Pink is also proven as a winning weight-control color, at none other than prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical University in Baltimore.

Violet is known for its ability to create balance. So as you’re planning your menus or dishing out portions of lean protein, fresh veggies and multigrain bread, look to your walls for inspiration. (Violet is also good for migraine sufferers).

This brings us to green, the color of all things fresh and good for our bodies. Green is relaxing, and also creates a sense of balance. It relaxes the body, and helps those who suffer from nervousness, anxiety or depression. Green may also aid in raising blood histamine levels, reducing sensitivity to food allergies. Antigens may also be stimulated by green, for overall better immune system healing.

Placing your sunlit fresh herbs near a green wall brings the outdoors in. That might also make you think about starting a garden, going for a walk or run, or cycling around the neighborhood.

Brown enhances a feeling of security, reduces fatigue and is relaxing. Black is a power color. If you have six-packs and you know it, raise your hand. Gray is the most neutral of all colors for the kitchen: not much happening there. Brighter hues inspire creativity and energy, while darker colors are peaceful and lower stress. Beige and off-white are “learning” colors.

Make good choices, on your walls, as well as your plate. What color should your kitchen be?

How Can We Encourage Kids to Be More Active?

From my notes for the Daybreak Show on Fox 92.5 with Trey Radel. It was fun, Southwest Florida !

Q: How can we motivate kids to be more active?

1. STOP for a bit after work and take your children to the park. The 20-30 min you spend with them will change their lives and yours.

2. Always have your tennis shoes and change of clothes or a gym bag in your car. It eliminates your excuses. Children are ready to have fun any time. We do in life, what we make time for and a shift in priorities is necessary. In this fast-paced, crazy life we live in, we forget our children only mimic us. If you’re a couch potato, what do you think you’re going to get

3. We live in Florida, go run on the beach, barefoot in the sand with your children. Play Frisbee. Talk a long walk in shallow water.

4. Pick an active hobby that helps others, like walking an elderly neighbor’s dog.

5. Plan games and activies that are fun but active – regular physical activity can improve mental health and mood for both you and your children.

6. Once school gets out, start your day with a walk in the morning before work, to just talk to your your child(ren). Try it just once and I guarantee it will be the MOST rewarding day you have had in a LONG time. You will have activity and learn something about your child(ren).

7. Take your kids to the pool with a snorkel and fins and thrown money in the pool, they will enjoy hunting for even pennies, dimes and nickels. Make a game out of it. How many can they get with one breath? Have them get only the pennies with one breath. Throw in a few quarters, half-dollars or specialty coins. Then let them keep a few at the end. (ps. Don’t forget the sun screen

Get Creative and Grill Your Way to Healthier Meals

Now that summer is almost here, it’s a perfect time to fire up the grill instead of the oven. May is even National Barbecue Month.

Barbecuing also offers plenty of health benefits, depending upon what you’re throwing over the flames. Groceries and farmers markets are full of fresh, locally grown produce, and Southwest Florida is blessed with an abundance of seafood.

But no matter what your favorite protein is, one thing always holds true: Grilling lends itself to a healthy diet.

Veggies never taste better than when grilled. That fresh, flavor-bursting taste is complemented by that magazine-cover grilled veggie “look” and it’s all good. It’s also nearly impossible to ruin a vegetable on the grill, so relax and experiment. You’re likely to wind up with a flavorful al dente version of corn, zucchini, peppers, onions or even something more unusual.

For something different, try grilled endive. (Joseph’s Table in Taos, N.M., serves a delicious version, with a gorgonzola sauce).

Marinating is a wonderful way to enhance veggies; they tend to caramelize when marinated. Use a large Ziploc-type bag to give them this advantage, if you have the time and inclination.

But once you’re ready to grill, avoid coating veggies (or anything else) with anything too sugar-intensive. Ingredients such as molasses, brown sugar and fruit juice tend to make foods burn in high heat. Most vegetables do best when cut into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch-wide pieces.

You can choose to put your vegetables directly on the grill – including speared on kebabs – or you may opt to put them in foil and lay that on top of the heat. Experiment and see what suits you.

Also, adding a dash of salt to veggies really draws out the flavor by drawing out the moisture inside them. Add the salt and any other seasonings you choose, after brushing them with a little oil. Then grill; veggies only need a few minutes.

Chicken with the skin on has a much higher fat content than that without: nearly double. So take it off before you marinate. Leaner cuts of meat can also trim up to half the fat calories overall, while still providing that yummy grilled taste. This frees you up to “spend” your calories on salad dressing, a cocktail, a simple dessert or something else.

Leaner cuts will require a marinade, however, as they can be tougher. Opt for thinner cuts of meat; marinade will penetrate only to about a quarter of an inch. Score the meat before covering it in marinade. And choose something with higher acid content, to help break down the fibrous nature of the meat.

Fish is always lean. Grilling is a great time to add salmon or tuna to your diet (tuna doesn’t want to be grilled for long). It’s very important to keep fish on ice or refrigerated until ready to grill in order to avoid food poisoning.

Depending on your meat, here are four low-calorie choices of marinade: Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons has only 30 calories); low-sodium soy sauce (2 tablespoons contain 120 calories), or tomato paste (2 tablespoons contain 40 calories), work really well.

For chicken, I like a tropical marinade of stone-ground mustard, honey and Key lime juice.

The sides that typically accompany a grilled dinner are where you can run into trouble. Save a lot of calories by avoiding creamy salads such as cole slaw, macaroni or potato salad; try brown rice or whole-meal pasta instead. If you plan to use bread, avoid white breads and pick up a nice whole-grain option. Fresh fruit salad is also a great substitute for potato salad, and can double as dessert.

Grilled pineapple is another delicious dessert option. Brush it with a little oil the same way you do with veggies and enjoy this delicious treat. For something really different, grill bananas!

Make sure any kids in your household understand how to be safe around a grill. And then get them involved in the process: shucking corn, skewering veggies, brushing on marinade or oil. This fun activity can become a lifelong habit, one that enhances nutrition and health.

Copyright 2010 Elaine Hastings, RD. Heath and Wellness, Nutrition Expert
Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. Hastings can be contacted at info@elainehastings.com or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Visit her blog for the latest information on nutrition and great tips for staying healthy: AssociatesinNutrition.com/wordpress. Take the Challenge, Change your Life!

Smoothies Great in Many Ways

Smoothies are a great snack or meal replacement (and a mobile one at that). They’re especially healthy as a meal replacement if you follow my recommended pattern of eating five to six small meals per day.

Smoothies can also be effective for weight gain or weight loss and are super for helping you stay healthy. It’s all about what goes in the blender, and the beauty of smoothies is that you can customize them not only to your taste, but also to your dietary needs.

If, for example, you need a pick-me-up to aid in recovery after an athletic event or exercise, use orange juice, apple juice, skim milk, ice, soymilk, pineapple juice, Gatorade, water or low-fat chocolate milk as the liquid base. I typically recommend liquid recovery over solid because it’s absorbed faster, is quick to intake and easier to talk someone into doing if they’re hesitant to eat after a workout.

There’s also the rehydration factor.

I recommend smoothies and liquid supplements for the same reasons: they’re easier to consume, and have a faster availability of nutrients due to shorter transit time from ingestion to utilization. The science of nutrition says, quite simply, that liquids simply have a faster absorption rate.

If you’re trying to add protein to your diet, blend natural peanut butter, skim milk or almonds into your smoothie. Green tea smoothies can aid in weight loss as well as give you a healthy dose of antioxidants. I recommend Stevia, Agave and Splenda when you want to add sweetener.

At our house, we use frozen strawberries, banana, cranberry grape juice, AminoRip protein supplement and ice. If we want to make more of a shake, we add skim milk, or just replace the cran-grape with skim milk. When making smoothies for my 14-year-old son, however, I would use all of the above and replace skim milk with whole milk.

After-school snacks that include protein are another way to power-pack your kids with nutrient-dense foods. Almond milk, kale, cacao nibs and vanilla rice protein make a really good smoothie.

Keep your fridge stocked with smoothie ingredients and you’ll be far more likely to whip up a healthy treat for yourself, your friends or family. Buy fresh fruit in season and freeze it.

Yogurt smoothies made with frozen bananas or strawberries are terrific. Some of the tastiest fruits for smoothies include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, banana, apples, pineapple and peaches.

Get creative in how you mix them, and make yourself happy. Experimentation can lead to some wonderful surprises for your palate. It’s that easy.

Frozen fruit smoothies are a quick, nutritious breakfast food, hydrating you early and giving your body the full range of nature’s bioavailable vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. They’re also full of natural fiber and help boost the immune system. You sure can’t say that about a donut.

I love my Magic Bullet blender and the manufacturer has a ton of great smoothie recipes on its “Buy the Bullet” company website. Share your favorite recipe with me via the comments column at The News-Press.com, or on my Facebook page, and I will post the recipe, along with my thoughts, and/or recommended changes.

Don’t be tempted to skip a meal, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Substitute a smoothie instead. And if the thought of cleaning a blender is making your resistant to this oh-so-healthy option, I have fallen prey to that myself. Just head straight for Liquid Nutrition. You might see me there!

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition & Sports Specialty in Florida. Hastings can be contacted at Elaine@associatesinnutrition.com or by visiting AssociatesinNutrition.com. Follow her on Twitter @elainehastings

Take the Challenge, Change your Life!

©2009 Associates in Nutrition Therapy. All Rights Reserved.

Read my News-Column: Small changes in eating mean big gains in health

Posted January 13th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips, Meal Tips

For many people, the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. The New Year is a good time to make a commitment to focus on living a healthier lifestyle. Even small changes in your eating habits can make a big impact on your health.

In addition, incorporating more exercise is important too. Simple tips that can make a difference in your health include parking farther from the building so that you have to walk more and burn more calories, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or cutting out all sugar drinks and drinking water instead.

When implemented daily, these easy lifestyle changes can help you get closer to reaching your goal of a healthy weight and feeling better.

For some, more significant changes must be made to get on track for healthy living. If you are thinking of starting a fad diet, be sure to do some research and consult with your physician to see if the diet is a safe and effective option for you.

Unfortunately, many diets deprive you of nutrients and can have a negative effect on your long-term health. In fact, consuming healthy food more often can actually help you drop those additional pounds. Be sure your diet includes plenty of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables. Five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily are highly recommended.

In addition, find ways to reduce salt, fat and sugar intake. These are commonly found in fast food and processed food. Modify cooking methods to reduce the use of oil in cooking. Steaming, boiling, grilling and baking are good cooking methods. Avoid deep frying whenever possible.

Also, eat more moderately by monitoring your portions. Start cutting your quantities in half; you’ll be surprised at how filling and satisfying smaller portions can be.

To develop a healthy eating routine, plan ahead. Start off each day with a hearty breakfast.

Trade your breakfast bran muffin for a bowl of bran flakes. You can potentially save 83,000 calories per year. Follow your breakfast with a lunch and light dinner. Eat soup for lunch instead of a sandwich. This may help you save another 50,000 calories per year.

Be sure to eat nutritious snacks in between meals. Avoid junk food by replacing a candy bar with fruit. This small change can help you avoid gaining an extra 5 pounds per year. Eat more vegetables and fruit for snacks.

By eating less at meals and adding healthy snacks in between, your body will burn the calories quicker without storing as much excess fat. This also helps to keep your metabolism running efficiently all day long.

As always, drink plenty of water. Water works as an appetite suppressant and helps to ward off food cravings. It also helps to metabolize the fats in your body and keeps you properly hydrated.

In addition to making these small changes, one of the best ways to lose weight is to develop a support system. Get your entire family involved and start off with some simple little changes in your diet.

Stay the course and soon you will begin to see the results of your resolutions for the New Year.

May you have a healthy and happy New Year!

Article makes American Dietetic Association newswire…Nutrition: RD credentials signify specialized training

Posted September 8th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in In The News

My latest News-Press article made the ADA’s news service!  Be sure to read  the article below on the significance of RD credentials. You can also link to the ADA’s Web site at www.eatright.org. They have the very latest news on food and nutrition. With so much information on the Web, it’s important to find credible sources. The ADA is a valuable resource for both health care professionals and consumers.

There is so much emphasis on the importance of food and nutrition that it is understandable why consumers may be confused. Who are you getting your nutrition advice from? Your gym? Magazines? A weight-loss program? The Web?

All of these sources can offer valuable information; however, you need to know that some of the advice you will receive from them is not necessarily accurate. New diet recommendations constantly emerge, making it sometimes difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. You should be especially careful if anyone offers you quick fixes that seem too good to be true.

If you are confused about the science of nutrition and weight loss, or have been receiving conflicting advice and not seeing the results you want, consider making an appointment with a registered dietitian, a specialist in the study of nutrition, who can assist you with planning a diet to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Certified by the state, RDs undertake the practical application of nutrition to prevent nutrition-related problems.

They are also involved in the diagnoses and dietary treatment of disease.

Dietitians in many settings work with people who have special dietary needs, inform the general public about nutrition, give unbiased advice, evaluate and improve treatments and educate clients, doctors, nurses, health professionals and community groups.

Sometimes, RDs will refer to themselves as “nutritionists,” because it is a term the public is familiar with. However, not all “nutritionists” are necessarily RDs.

Make sure the person you choose to see has RD credentials to ensure that person has received the necessary specialized accredited training.

That training includes classes in food and nutrition sciences, food service systems management, business, economics, computer science, culinary arts, sociology, chemistry, communications, education, biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology and psychology.

To make the transition from dietitian to RD requires the completion of an internship and the successful passing of a national board exam.

Why should you consider a dietitian instead of relying on the trainers at your local gym or your monthly fitness magazine? Dietitians have special skills in translating scientific and medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public. They also play an important role in health promotion.

A dietitian will work with your doctor to assist you in fine-tuning your medications, meals and exercise requirements. Dietitians also will be able to assist you with reading food labels, and provide cooking and grocery tips.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. She has been practicing for 18 years and was recently named president of the Southwest Florida Dietetic Association. A “nutrition entrepreneur,” she works contractually and is also a writer, motivational speaker, product researcher, counselor, sports-nutritionist and eating disorder advocate. Continue to read her series on Tuesdays. You can contact Elaine at www.AssociatesinNutrition.com, Email her at elaine@associatesinnutrition.com

Portion Distortion: My latest News Article

Posted August 25th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

We are portion distorted. That is most of us, despite our best intentions, seriously underestimate how much we are eating. In fact, this is one of the biggest roadblocks to weight loss success that I see in the people I counsel as a registered dietitian.

Restaurants and grocery stores have programmed us to have a “more is better” mentality when it comes to food. Fast food restaurants entice us to super-size our meals for just a few additional cents, and sit-down restaurants serve huge plates stacked high with pasta and enough meat for three people.

Package sizes for individual bottles of soda, salty snack foods and frozen meals have slowly grown bigger over the decades.

But because the only way to maintain long-term weight loss is portion control, we need to know what a true portion should look like.

Simply speaking, a portion is a designated amount of food for one person at one seating – or a serving size. The purpose of a serving size is to give people healthy and appropriate nutrition information and guidelines.

Serving sizes also help to standardize what you see on Nutrition Facts labels and allow government agencies, such as the USDA, to recommend amounts of different types of foods for optimal health and weight control.

One way to determine portion size is to weigh all of your food; however, that is impractical for most of us.

I have found in my experience that the next best thing is to use the following visual tips as guidelines:

- 1 cooked pasta serving (1Ú3 to 1Ú2 cup) = the size of a tennis ball sliced in half.
- 1 meat, poultry or fish serving (2 to 3 ounces) = the size of a deck of cards
- 1 milk or yogurt serving = approximately the size of your fist.
- 1 natural cheese serving (11Ú2 ounces) = 4 dice stacked on top of each other or the average thumb
- 1 serving of fruit = a tennis ball sliced in half. (With whole fruit, a serving is a medium-sized apple, banana, orange, or pear – keep in mind most of what we see in grocery stores is portion distortion. We tend to get large to extra-large varieties. If it’s chopped, cooked or canned, the serving size is one-half cup.)
- 1 serving of grains cooked, such as oatmeal = one-half cup an ice cream scoop.
- 1 serving cold cereal = 3Ú4 to 1 teacup or a fist.

Avoid portion distortion
1. When looking at the Nutrition Facts label on a product, get in the habit of glancing at the serving size (this may be futile; sometimes it’s in grams or another unit that’s not user-friendly) and automatically double or triple the calories, carbs and other nutrients you check to see how it all adds up when you eat more than a single serving.
2. At restaurants, send half your plate back to the kitchen to be put in a doggie bag as soon as you can. It is not rude.
3. Take out your measuring cups and train yourself – using water, dry rice or beans, a deck of cards, ice cream scoop, tennis ball, dice and some Play-Doh – to know what recommended portion sizes look like in your everyday bowls.
4. Train yourself to order only small or kid’s sizes when ordering anything at a restaurant, snack bar, etc.
5. Use a smaller plate when eating at home, and away from home, always leave some food on your plate.

- Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian of Associates in Nutrition in Florida and was recently named president of the Southwest Florida Dietetic Association. Contact her at Elaine@AssociatesinNutrition.com or AssociatesinNutrition. com.