A Look at Nutrition: Restaurant Portion Size

“Supersize” menu items have been all the health buzz lately, and most health conscious people are aware that super-sizing your meal can give you much more calories (and fat, and sodium, etc. etc.) than you bargained for. However, it is more and more common for restaurants to provide nutrition facts (often displayed on the wall or available in a brochure), and many are finding that the regular menu items at popular eating joints are still enormous compared to a recommended serving size. For the purposes of this post, a serving size is the recommended portion as established by the FDA.

For example, a serving size for a burger is 5 oz., which is the size of a Whopper Jr. A Big Mac is 7 oz. A dinner sized portion of pasta at the Olive Garden is triple the amount of pasta recommended (1 cup). A recommended sandwich size is 5 oz., while the typical sandwich at Panera Bread is 14 oz.

Get the idea?

Even at places considered “healthful” such as Panera, the servings are about double what a average person should be eating. This is difficult for people, as they typically eat what is put in front of them, and assume what is served at a restaurant is the recommended serving size. Most restaurant eaters are not bringing in their scale or measuring their servings before digging in.

It is important for your health to be aware of what you are eating. Some recommendations to remain portion-smart are to ask for a to-go box with your meal, and box up half of your meal before digging in. Splitting a meal is also an option.

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