When Does a Slice of Pizza Equal Two Dollar Bills?

By Elizabeth C. Malko, MD, Fallon Community Health Plan

Summer is here and many of us have resolved to lose a few pounds - again. This time we'd like our weight loss to have staying power. Is it possible to reach and keep our ideal body weight while still eating a variety of foods - and even indulging in the occasional treat?

Absolutely! The key is not only knowing what to eat, but how much to eat - and that means watching your portions. Eat or drink at least 500 fewer calories a day and you'll lose about a pound a week.

First, we have to relearn true portion sizes. A study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association determined that, over the past 20 years, portion sizes of many popular restaurants and prepackaged foods have increased by as much as eight times! No wonder our waistlines are expanding.

For example, today a bagel is about 4 ounces and as big as a compact disc. However, the suggested serving is 1 ounce - the size of a hockey puck. If you have the typical bagel, you'll eat not one, but four servings (and some 350 calories)!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set standards for healthy serving sizes. Try visualizing a serving by comparing the food to a familiar object. For instance:

One USDA-suggested serving of …

looks like …

½ cup pasta or cooked rice

A tennis ball

3 ounces lean meat, poultry, fish

A deck of playing cards

1½ ounces cheddar cheese

Your thumb

1 slice of pizza

2 dollar bills at angles to each other

One medium-sized potato

A computer mouse

A great resource is the WebMD Portion Size Plate, where you can even download wallet- and fridge-sized portion guides.

So, this summer, instead of super-sizing your meal or polishing off that mega-muffin, do a reality check. Practice your new portion control lifestyle - and reach your healthy weight-loss goal for life.

Elizabeth C. Malko, M.D., M. Eng., F.A.A.F.P., is Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Fallon Community Health Plan. She is dedicated to enhancing care services and other initiatives that help individuals to attain quality, affordable care. She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Executives and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .