One of the tasks that I'm working on is making sure that I'm aware of my portion and serving sizes. This is especially important when trying to keep count of my calorie intake. When I have carbs during a meal (brown rice, whole grain pasta, etc) I try to keep my portion size under 1/2 a cup. Carbs, even those that are good for you, tend to be calorie-dense, so if I still want to enjoy them, I need to eat less.
I think some people have issues with eating healthy because they may not be well-educated on how to measure their serving sizes. For many people, when they measure 1 cup of some food item, they use a vessel that looks similar to this:
And that's fine if you're measuring juice, soda, stock or any kind of liquid. This is a liquid measuring cup. If you're measuring dry food items, (rice, cereal, granola, or anything non-liquid) you actually want to use a cup that looks like this:
Not quite the same thing. This is a dry measure cup. When the back of a box of rice, or a bag of candy says the serving size is 1 cup, this is what they're talking about.
To further illustrate, I have 1 cup of cereal (Special K Fruit and Yogurt) pictured below that was measured using the 8 oz liquid measuring cup.
Now, I have 1 cup of cereal pictured below (in the same bowl) which was measured using the dry measuring cup:
Quite a difference, eh? When the box of cereal says that 1 cup is a serving size, this is the amount that coincides with the nutrition information.
I blame it on the fact that the US doesn't use the metric system and that the word "cup" actually has different measurements depending on the makeup of the item that is being measured.
Make sure that you have the correct tools when trying to measure and keep up with your portion and serving sizes. A good set of dry measuring cups is an excellent tool for every kitchen. If your nutrition panel includes a notation for ounces or grams, then take all the guesswork out of it by using a digital scale and not using those stupid cups at all. :)
Did you know there was difference?