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But you could take your changes one step further. The proportions of the New American Plate lend themselves to stir-fries, stews, casseroles and grain-based salads.

These dishes cooked in one pot (or prepared on one plate) are bursting with colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Red meat, fish or poultry is used as a condiment, to add flavor and substance to the meal. And rn one-pot meals make the transition to the New American Plate easy. The change in proportion is not evident, but the delicious, new flavors are. When you are ready to try some of these healthful and great-tasting meals, you'll find 20 recipes on page 12.

Povtion Size

People arriving in the U.S. from abroad often comment on how large the portions are on American plates. That may be because restaurateurs and food retailers are committed to "value marketing." They compete by offering us more food for less money. The "supersized" meals and oversized snacks we buy away from home tend to confuse us about reasonable portion sizes when we're at home. Today Americans eat 148 more calories per day than they did two decades ago. That extra intake could add up to 15 pounds per year.

When it comes to reaching a healthy weight, it's not just what you eat, but also how much you eat that matters. Many of the fad diet books sold today recommend eliminating some or all carbohydrates from your meals in order to lose weight. In fact, those diets won't lead to lasting weight loss unless they also involve reduced consumption of calories.

It is important to maintain the right proportion of plant food (usually carbohydrates) and animal food (usually protein and fat) for your long-term health. Furthermore, doing so may in fact help you manage your weight. Vegetables and fruits tend to be more filling and have fewer calories. But if you eat oversized portions of even the most healthy foods, you are likely to gain weight. The only practical way to shed excess pounds is to eat less and exercise more.

Fad Diets and the New American Plate

You've probably noticed a new wave of fad diets flooding the American marketplace. Behind these quick-fix plans lies the notion that certain kinds of foods - such as sugar, bread and carbohydrates in general - are "bad" or fattening and must be avoided.

But it's not an effective or healthy idea to start changing your meals according to the theory of some bestselling diet book. Sudden, drastic changes to your diet are often difficult to maintain in the long run. Instead, making gradual adjustments will encourage permanent improvements in the way you eat.

Most of these plans overlook the disease-fighting benefits of a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. That could raise your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Furthermore, plates that feature healthy portions of plant-based foods tend to be lower in calories and fat than plates recommended by many fad diets. And when it comes to weight management, it is total caloric intake that counts, not any kind of magic "protein vs. carbohydrate" formula.

Sizing Up the Povtions on Youv Plate

To come to terms with the size of the portions we eat, we need a point of comparison. Look on page 10 for a list of standard serving sizes published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In comparison with what we usually eat, these servings seem remarkably small. Many people eat three cups of pasta at a sitting. Some restaurants are known to serve six or eight cups on a plate. Yet USDA defines a standard serving of pasta as one-half cup.

No one is suggesting that half a cup of pasta should suffice even as a side dish. Each of us has different calorie needs during the day. A jogger who runs three miles every morning or a pregnant woman burns more calories than a sedentary office

Standard Serving



Looks Like

Chopped Vegetables

H cup

H baseball or rounded handful for average adult

Raw Leafy Vegetables (such as lettuce)

1 cup

1 baseball or fist for average adult

Fresh Fruit

1 medium piece

1 baseball

H cup chopped

H baseball or rounded handful for average adult

Dried Fruit

G cup

1 golf ball or scant handful for average adult

Pasta, Rice, Cooked Cereal

H cup

H baseball or rounded handful for average adult

Ready-to-Eat Cereal

1 oz. which varies from G cup to 1 G cups (check label)

Meat, Poultry, Seafood

3 oz. (boneless cooked weight from 4 oz. raw)

Deck of cards

Dried Beans

H cup cooked

H baseball or rounded handful for average adult


N cup

Level handful for average adult


1 H oz. (2 oz. if processed cheese)

1 oz. looks like 4 dice

Source: U.S. Department oP Agriculture

worker who commutes by car. These standard servings provide us with a way to assess the amount of food we eat, and they allow us to ask ourselves some important questions: How many standard servings are there in the portion I regularly eat? Do I actually require that many?

Try an experiment at your next meal. Measure out your usual portion size onto a plate or a bowl. Make a mental note of how much of your plate or bowl is covered by this serving.

After checking the chart, measure out the standard serving size of the same food onto another plate or bowl. Compare the two plates. Ask yourself how many standard servings go into the portion you normally eat. If your weight is satisfactory, you are probably eating the right number of servings to meet your energy needs. If you are overweight, the first thing you should consider is reducing the number of standard servings in your regular portions.

Decrease your portion size gradually so that you will be less likely to notice the change. Even small reductions add up to substantial differences.

Remember, maintaining the right proportion of plant foods to animal foods is important to your long-term health. So reduce the portion sizes on your plate, but maintain the two-thirds to one-third proportion.

A fad diet that has not stood up to rigorous scientific testing is no way to lose weight. Obesity became an epidemic in this country at the same time portion size grew enormous. It is likely you can reach a healthy weight on your own by simply reducing the size of the portions you eat and exercising more. If you still do not see your weight gradually moving in a healthy direction, contact your doctor or a registered dietitian for a more individualized plan.


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Dieting Dilemma and Skinny Solutions

Dieting Dilemma and Skinny Solutions

The captivating thing about diets is that you don't get what is researched or predicted or calculated but rather, you get precisely what you expect. If the diet resonates with you then it will likely work, if it doesn't resonate, it won't.

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