What makes a serving?
THE CONCEPT of 5 A Day was so simple and friendly: Eat at least five servings of fruits and/or vegetables every day and you will have done your body right. It was an easy, round number, countable on one hand.
Then the nutritional powers that be decided five was not enough. We should be eating 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups -- up to 13 servings a day -- or so it states in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. I mentioned that around the office and one guy said, "Thirteen? Why even try?"
WHAT MAKES A SERVING?
Americans are advised to eat at least 5 and up to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. But what's a serving? Here are some examples provided by the "Fruit & Veggies: More Matters" campaign.
Which is exactly the point of the nutrition campaign that replaced 5 A Day last month: "Fruits & Veggies: More Matters." Instead of focusing on the numbers, the goal is simply to get people to eat more of the good stuff.
"If I eat an apple a day, maybe now I'll eat and apple and an orange. Or a salad," says Carissa Poon, a nutrition educator with the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Or for finicky children, perhaps a carrot stick today will become two carrots sticks and a strawberry tomorrow.
Poon is coordinating the new campaign in Hawaii, bringing together a number of public and private groups with hopes of spreading the word through educational efforts and practical advice.
Still, she admits that it's hard to get people past those numbers. She still fields questions on serving sizes and how much is enough.
My friend Joleen, who sits two desks down, has been somewhat obsessed with the whole issue for the last month, even as she hauls her lunch bag to work daily, stuffed with fresh and healthful finger foods. So, this is for her -- a guide to what constitutes a single serving.
Now, don't get all picky and exact when you examine these suggestions. We all know that romaine leaves come in many sizes, as do broccoli florets, and just about everything, for that matter. These are guidelines, based on medium-sized items.
Another way to look at it is by volume:
1 SERVING EQUALS:
1/2 cup of raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruit or vegetables; or 1/4 cup dried. Or 1 cup of leafy greens, such as lettuce. Or 1/2 cup pure fruit juice.
With vegetables that shrink substantially when cooked, such as spinach and tomatoes, 1 serving equals 1/4 cup cooked.
Or, just eat plenty.