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Diet & Nutrition FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD

Take the Diet & Nutrition Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
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Q:According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” True or False?

A:False. A “portion” is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or in your own kitchen. Versus a portion, a “serving” size is the amount of food listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts. Sometimes, the portion size and serving size match; sometimes they do not. Keep in mind that the serving size on the Nutrition Facts is not a recommended amount of food to eat. It is a quick way of letting you know the calories and nutrients in a certain amount of food.

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Q:A serving of what kind of vegetables should be about the size of a baseball?

A:A Serving of Broccoli. A serving of broccoli should be about the size of a baseball, which is equivalent to about one cup.

As for ice cream, according to MyPyramid.gov, one serving of ice cream should be no larger than the approximate size of a light bulb, which evens out to about a one-half cup sweet treat.

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Q:From which foods can we get carbohydrates?

A:Milk products and fruits, whole grain breads and cereals, table sugar, starchy vegetables, and legumes. Carbohydrates are called "simple" or "complex," depending on how fast your body digests and absorbs the sugar. You get simple carbohydrates from fruits, milk products, and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables, and legumes. Complex carbohydrates and some simple carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Products made with refined sugar provide little nutrition. It is wise to limit these products.

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Q:Which has more calories: A plain bagel with cream cheese or a toaster waffle with syrup?

A:A Toaster Waffle with Syrup. A 4-inch regular toaster waffle with syrup has 129 calories.

A 4-ounce plain bagel with cream cheese has 91 calories.

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Q:A good rule of thumb is to drink 10-12 glasses of water per day. True or False?

A:False. There is no evidence to show that drinking 10-12 glasses of water is necessary. Generally, nutritionists recommend we follow the “8x8” rule, which is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Drinking more water does indeed boost metabolism - especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm the water up, burning a few extra calories in the process. As for other benefits of water, 85% of your brain tissue is water, which means that if you're dehydrated, both your body and your mind will be stressed.

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Q:According to the USDA’s famous Food Pyramid, we need 2-3 servings of which food group every day?

A:Milk, cheese, and yogurt products. The USDA’s famous Food Pyramid confirms that we need 2-3 daily servings from the milk, yogurt, and cheese group; 2-3 daily servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group; 3-5 daily servings of vegetables; 2-4 servings from the fruit class; 6-11 daily servings from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta category, and to use fats, oils, and sweets very sparingly.

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Q:One serving of peanut butter is about the size of a ping pong ball. True or False?

A:A Ping Pong Ball. One serving of peanut butter is equivalent to two tablespoons, which, together are about the size of a ping pong ball.

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Q:Diet is a major contributor to overweight and obesity. How many U.S. adults would you guess are overweight or obese?

A:Nearly 70% of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese!

More than two-thirds (68%) of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese.

This breaks down to 64.1% of U.S. women and 72.3% of U.S. men.

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Q:A burrito should be the size of a checkbook. True or False?

A:A Burrito. While MyPyramid.gov states that a serving of chicken breast should be about the size of a deck of cards, ideally, a burrito should be no larger than the size of a checkbook.

Bear in mind: Of all the varieties of burritos, a simple beef burrito or a simple bean burrito has the least amount of guilt at 297 calories (beef burrito) and 295 (bean burrito).

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Q:People with a body mass index (BMI) value of what or more are considered obese?

A:30. BMI values between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered to be a “normal” or “healthy” weight. BMI values between 25 and 29.9 are considered “overweight,” while BMI values of 30 and above are considered “obese.” BMIs above 25 are unhealthy and have been shown to increase the risk of certain chronic diseases. BMIs under 18.5 are considered “underweight.”

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Q:According to the USDA, pasta falls into the “grain” category. True or False?

A:Pastas. Food made from wheat, rice, oats, corn, or another cereal is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, cornflakes, and grits may not seem like it, but they are all grain products.

Beans, on the other hand, fall into the protein category, alongside meats.

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Q:What food should be no larger than an ordinary computer mouse?

A:A Baked or Sweet Potato. When choosing baked or sweet potatoes, be sure to choose a medium–sized potato.

A potato that is medium in size should be about the same size as an ordinary computer mouse.

As for a serving of olives, or anything high in fat, think in terms of a golf ball.

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Q:To keep your diet in check, a correct-sized portion of what food should be near the size of a package of dental floss: Chocolate or Butter?

A:Chocolate. According to MyPyramid.gov, an ounce of chocolate should be about the size as a package of dental floss.

To best keep your diet in check, always be sure to use butter, margarine, and other oils very sparingly, and be sure to keep in mind that one tablespoon of fats and oils is about the same size as a poker chip.

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Q:A serving of what food should be about the size of a deck of playing cards? Beef or Bread?

A:A Deck of Playing Cards. Beef's bundle of nutrients is beneficial for growing, developing and maintaining overall health through all life's stages.

With only 154 calories, one 3-ounce serving of lean beef (about the size of a deck of playing cards) contributes less than 10 percent of the calories, in a 2,000-calorie diet.

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Q:Most Americans consume the greatest amount of calcium from milk. True or False?

A:Cheese. While calcium is derived from various sources in the U.S. food supply, more than one-quarter (27%) of Americans get their calcium from cheese sources.

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