Test Your Skills: Portion Control

Published Online: Tuesday, November 26, 2013
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Test Your Knowledge About Food

With your busy schedule, eating fast food—or sometimes too much food—can become a habit. When you’re grabbing food on the go, do you know how much you’re actually consuming?

What about the amount of exercise you’ll need to burn off those extra calories? Test your knowledge of how much portion sizes have grown over the past 20 years—and what you can do to combat those calories. Take the quiz >>

You want: Ramen Noodles
You reach for: A box of whole-wheat pasta, couscous, or rice noodles, low-sodium broth, spices, and vegetables.
Why: Ramen has its advantages—it's quick, cheap, and almost foolproof—but the lack of any real nutrients makes this college staple suspect. Instead, reach for some whole-wheat pasta, which can also be used for other, non-Asian inspired dishes, couscous, or rice noodles, and cook in water or low-sodium chicken or beef broth. Add some spices—onion powder, ground ginger, and garlic powder should mimic Oriental-flavored ramen—plus vegetables, and you've got an inexpensive, quick meal that's much healthier than the fried-and-dried noodles.

You want: Chips, pretzels, anything crunchy
You reach for: Sliced cucumbers; nuts or trail mix; or veggie, kale, or pita chips
Why: Satisfy your urge to crunch in a way that provides more nutrients. Nuts or trail mix are easy to keep—and easy to carry, if you buy single-serving pouches or siphon them into snack-size plastic bags. Meanwhile, sliced cucumbers sprinkled with salt and spices mimic the crunch of a chip without the grease or calories. If you just have to have a chip, check the labels of vegetable, kale, or pita chips to find a healthier alternative to the traditional potato variety.

You want: Pizza
You reach for: English muffins, tomato sauce or salsa, cheese, assorted toppings
Why: Did you know you can buy the ingredients for the after-school tradition—English muffin pizzas—freeze them, and create the meal when you have a craving? Not only will you save yourself the temptation that comes if you have leftovers around during an all-nighter, but the English muffins’ size is portion control made easy. What if you have friends coming over for a study session? Five words: make your own pizza party.

You want: Breakfast on the go
You reach for: Oatmeal, cereal, or granola bar
Why: Some days, your bed is just that much better than a sit-down breakfast. By keeping healthy staples such as oatmeal, cereal, and healthy granola bars in your room, you can avoid going to class or work ravenous and rushed. Before you stock up on these items, be sure to check the label, paying close attention to the sugar content, which is often high in these foods. Multigrain or bran cereals and plain oatmeal are good options. The cereal and granola bars can easily be stored for on-the-go snacks, making these meals a multi-tasker.

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