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What does 4 oz of broccoli look like?

Successful dieting has a lot to do with calculating the calories your body uses daily, and, for a sensible weight loss program of one pound per week, creating a daily deficit of 500 or so calories (see "You Do The Math," Running & FitNews, Jan/Feb). It's relatively easy to discover how many calories foods contain. For fresh vegetables and meats that don't list information on the packaging, there are numerous Web sites. One reliable one is

The real difficulty comes in knowing the weights and volumes of various foods, especially when you are away from home and without access to a measuring cup or food scale. Here are tips to help you eyeball serving sizes and therefore count calories, an essential part of a weight loss plan and a wise thing to get in the habit of as the holiday eating frenzy once again approaches.

Servings range from three ounces for meat, to as little as a quarter cup for dried fruit. In general, one cup is about the size of a baseball, and two tablespoons more like a golf ball. The following are a few useful comparisons. Recall a cup is eight ounces. Pasta, rice and broccoli servings listed are after cooking. One chicken breast or a leg/thigh combo equals a three-ounce serving.

Between 1977 and 1996, researchers found that portions increased both inside and outside the home across all food categories they looked at except pizza. The portion size of salty snacks increased by 93 calories, soft drinks by 49 calories, hamburgers by 97 calories, french fries by 68 calories and Mexican food by 133 calories.

Now the shocker: an excess of just 30 calories a day adds up to 10 pounds over three years! By the same token, then, a little bit of calorie cutting can go a long way, and you'd be surprised at the multitude of opportunities to do so. Even in the land of high-fat fast food, consider that a Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries and a large soda equals 1,380 calories, whereas a Quarter Pounder with cheese, small fries and a small soda totals 890 calories. That saves 490 calories in just one (albeit still unhealthy) sitting.

To avoid the pitfalls of our fast-paced, take-out culture, order the American Institute of Cancer Research Healthy Eating Away from Home pamphlet at Remember to balance complex carbs with a little bit of protein and fat at every meal. Eat slowly and rather than stuffing yourself, wrap leftovers to go when you're out at a restaurant.
This food: Approximately resembles:

3 oz meat, chicken or fish a deck of cards

thinner cuts of fish a checkbook

counts as 1 oz meat:
1 egg

2 Tbsp peanut butter 1 golf ball

1/3 cup nuts 1 level handful

1/2 cup dry beans or tofu 1/2 baseball

1/2 cup chopped fruit or 1/2 baseball

1 medium piece of fruit 1 baseball

1/2 cup chopped vegetables,
pasta or rice 1/2 baseball

1 1/2 cups pasta 1 dinner plate, not heaped

1/2 cup broccoli 1 light bulb

counts as 1/2 cup:
1 ear of corn

6 asparagus spears

1 cup raw leafy vegetables 1 baseball

1/4 cup dried fruit 1 golf ball

1 oz cheese 4 dice stacked together or
 the size of your thumb

1 oz chips or pretzels 2 handfuls

1 teaspoon butter thumb tip

(JAMA, 2003, Vol. 289, No. 4, pp. 450-453; The Competitive Runner's Handbook by Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Glover, Penguin, New York, NY, 1999, 672 pp. $17.95; AICR Newsletter, Summer 2003, No. 80, p.3; U.S. Dept. Agriculture,; Ellen Schuster, MS, RD, Oregon State University,

RELATED ARTICLE: Help for Peanut Allergy Sufferers

An experimental drug has been shown to block an allergic reaction to peanuts, which can be dangerous and even kills 50 to 100 people in the U.S. annually. The drug, TNX-901, was injected in subjects every four weeks for four doses, and caused their sensitivity to change such that on average, patients who received a 450-mg dose could consume nine peanuts before showing symptoms, up from one-half of a peanut without the drug. A quarter of the subjects could eat up to 24 peanuts at this dosage level before reacting.

Ever-increasing evidence that peanuts have terrific health benefits will continue to be of little use to the estimated 1.5 million Americans who suffer from a peanut allergy. But, if approved, the drug would offer protection against--and ease fear of--most unintended ingestions of peanuts.

(NEJM, 2003, Vol. 348, No. 11, pp. 986-993)
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Title Annotation:Practically Speaking
Publication:Running & FitNews
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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