August 2, 2012 11:05 am

Canadians unaware of proper serving sizes for meals: study


TORONTO – As you pile food onto your dinner plate tonight, take a good look at the portions – a new study shows that Canadians aren’t aware of proper portion sizes, overestimating what recommended servings should look like.

That eight-ounce steak sizzling on the grill during a backyard barbecue, for example, exceeds an adult’s daily maximum for meat, according to Canada’s Food Guide.

York University scientists interviewed 145 Canadians from various ethnicities to analyze their eating habits and understanding of how much they were eating on a daily basis. The participants also revealed how much of something – such as pizza or pasta – they’d eat in one sitting.

When they were asked to select what they thought was a proper serving, the group was wrong across the board in estimating the total number of servings they were eating in a day.

They underestimated the number of servings of fruit and vegetables, grains and meat.They also overestimated the number of servings of milk they were drinking, results showed.

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“What we found was that the way people estimate one serving is essentially how much they would normally eat at one time,” says researcher Jennifer Kuk, a professor at the school’s kinesiology department.

Her findings, published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, were funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Overall, study participants thought they should eat 400 more calories than what guidelines recommend.

Canada’s Food Guide is used by doctors to pass on healthy eating information to their patients.

Kuk says serving sizes should be altered to mirror what Canadians think is sufficient amounts of food – the guide hasn’t been updated since 1977 – or diners need to be educated on how much they should be eating.

Take a look at examples of how food portions should look like according to the Canada Food Guide.



– One serving of beef, chicken or fish is three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards

– One serving of pasta or rice is about a cup, uncooked, or about the size of a tennis ball

– One serving of cooked vegetables is about half a cup, or the size of a baseball

– If you’re snacking on dried fruit or nuts, they pack a lot more calories than fresh fruit. A quarter of a cup is one serving, or about the size of a ping pong ball

– A perfectly portioned baked potato should be the size of a computer mouse

– A serving of cheese, perhaps for a midday snack, is about the size of six dice
A portion of fish, which could be your protein fix at dinner, is about the size of a checkbook

Take a look at more portion size tips here.

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