Nutrition & Portion Sizes: Overeating is as easy as (2 slices of) pie

Matthew Gelhard and Christian Nolan grab a snack and test their knowledge of proportions.

Rose Fiore

Matthew Gelhard and Christian Nolan grab a snack and test their knowledge of proportions.

by Rose Fiore, Editor

With fast food readily available, many young people don’t feel the need to making their own meals. The meals they choose at fast food restaurants are often too big and most don’t have the right nutrients.

For example, let’s say you’re thirsty and looking for something cool to drink. If you stop at 7-Eleven, you’ll find a Double Gulp soda which is 64 ounces—That’s over 800 calories for one person. If you happen to grab a snack, too, such as a hot dog, you’ll add another 360 calories. Altogether, you’ve used up 1160 calories on what was supposed to be a light meal. For the average person who needs around 2000 calories a day, this is far too many.

The sad truth is that many teens eat like this for multiple meals a day. Some people believe that if you have a high metabolism and don’t gain weight quickly, you aren’t doing any damage. This is just not true. No matter who you are, you can be predisposed to a lot of health issues.

So, how do we fix this problem? The key is awareness. When you are aware of what’s in your favorite foods and what portion sizes are appropriate for someone your size, you are more likely to stop and think before you eat.

The average homemade burger contains about 300 calories. One Big Mac contains 540 calories. This is due to the large portion, extra piece of bread, and second patty.

A McDonalds Big Mac bun contains high fructose corn syrup, as do many, many foods.  High fructose corn syrup is a sugar substittute that is known to be addictive, causing you to crave foods like Big Macs more often. High fructose corn syrup boosts fat-storing hormones, causing obesity and a host of other conditions over time.

Did you know that a half cup of cooked spaghetti is a serving size? Most restaurant servings are three cups. This is six times the calories you should be eating. To avoid overeating, ask for the kids size, split the meal with someone else, or box up most of the meal before you start eating.

Lancer Media tried out an experiment to see how big we though servings of our favorite snack foods were.  The class was asked to guess how many calories were in one serving of each snack–Pringles, Rolos, pretzels, Goldfish, Coke, and Hershey’s Kisses–and how much was in one serving. The results were surprising.

Rose Fiore
one serving of Pringles

The most common guess for number of Pringles in one serving was 10. In reality, there are 16 Pringles and 150 calories per serving. This seems like a low amount, but the calories can quickly add up if you’re eating them mindlessly. Grace Weaver even admitted to eating a whole can in one sitting.

Rose Fiore
one serving of Goldfish

Most people guessed that there were 30 goldfish per serving. Surprisingly, there are a whopping 55 Goldfish and 150 calories per serving. The small plate doesn’t seem to have 55 pieces, so that’s why it’s so easy to overeat.

Rose Fiore
one serving of pretzels

Most people thought that there were at least 20 pretzels per serving. Sadly, the serving size is only 17 and has 110 calories. Seventeen  sounds like a lot of pretzels, but when you look at the plate, you realize how tiny it really is. There are 16 servings per bag.


Rose Fiore
one serving of Hershey’s Kisses

Only three people guessed the correct serving size—nine chocolates. Most thought that there were only three chocolates per serving. One piece is 22 calories. There are eight servings in one bag, making it all too easy to reach in and eat without thinking about the calories.

Rose Fiore
one serving of Coke

Most thought that eight oz. of Coke was one serving, but it’s actually 12 oz. and 140 calories. There are 39 grams of sugar. Still want that refill?

This is a great “game” to try at home.  Choose the amount you think best represents the portion size, and guess the calories.  There are also guides to measuring by using the proportions of your hand.

A closed fist is equivalent to one cup. This is ideal for measuring out rice, vegetables, and popcorn. A cupped hand is equivalent to a half cup and is best used to measure out pasta, potatoes, and ice cream. The palm is equivalent to three ounces and can be used to measure chicken, beef, and fish. Lastly, the thumb can be used to measure out a tablespoon of salad dressing, peanut butter, and cheese.