What Does Your Chicken Weigh?

Every news program segment or written article about healthy eating includes discussion about food portion size.  Viewers and readers are reminded that a healthy portion of protein or meat is about 3 ounces.  It was common in the past to use the size of a human palm or fist as a guideline, but that has been replaced with a standard deck of cards.  I’m guessing that’s because people were borrowing fists and palms to maximize their healthy portion size.  My palm is much smaller than my mother’s husband’s, who happens to stand at 6.5 feet tall or so.  I would really like to use his palm to measure food portions the old way.

Weight Watchers emphasizes the importance of weighing and measuring food, especially for newcomers and veterans.  Weight Watchers veterans run the risk of becoming complacent, assuming they can eye up the correct portion size.  Inevitably, this results in size creep.  I think it’s human nature to underestimate the portion size of a yummy food and overestimate the portion size of a boring food (e.g. brownies and lettuce, respectively).  I also believe people will tend to eat all of a single piece of something, regardless of its size.  I wonder why – is it a latent survival instinct of efficiency?  If it were all part of a master plan,  a single chicken breast would come naturally in a healthy 3 ounce portion.  In many cases, it’s easier to carry one larger piece of something than many smaller pieces, especially before the days of shopping bags and storage containers. 

I have noticed that the average size of a U.S. grocery store chicken breast (raw, no bone, no skin) is about 7 ounces.  The photograph shows a 14 ounce package.  I weighed the right breast and it was almost exactly 7 ounces – nearly twice the size of a healthy portion.  Weight Watchers does a good job of assigning PointsPlus to a single chicken breast, when a person doesn’t know its weight.  Given the PointsPlus value, they are using somewhere around 9 ounces as a standard size breast.

Four months of diligently following the Weight Watchers program has resulted in my marinating on these types of topics.  Am I the only one?

I encountered an internet reference that lists common food items and appropriate portion sizes for healthy eating – check it out…


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