It’s been 20 years since I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in Ramona. While quite a bit remains the same -– wild turkeys on the golf course (you made it through another year guys!), community garage sales, and the Ramona American Graffiti Cruise nights, a lot has also changed.

There’s more traffic, there’s the ‘rona, businesses have come and gone, and we’re eating more. Wait, what?

It’s true. Despite our best intentions, we’re eating more; a lot more! But take heart, it’s not your fault (probably). It has to do with portions and servings.

A portion is the amount of food that you choose to eat for a meal or snack. It can be big or small, it’s up to you. A serving is a measured amount of food or drink, such as one slice of bread or one cup (eight ounces) of milk.

The Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods, on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. tells you the number of servings contained inside.

For instance, right now as I’m writing this, I’m looking at a bag of chocolate chip cookies (don’t judge). It’s telling me a serving size is three cookies. Three. I’ll eat three cookies just on the walk between my kitchen and the sofa!

I would venture a guess that most of us don’t really pay attention to the serving size, and instead, have our own predetermined portions we enjoy. And honestly, that in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad since most of us know when we’re overeating. However, there is something more insidious going on. Keep reading; this is going to blow your mind.

The food industry has increased average portion sizes so much over the past 20 years that sometimes your plate contains enough food for two or even three people! (Plate sizes have increased over the decades as well).

Check this out — 20 years ago, a bagel measured 3” in diameter and had 140 calories. Today, the average bagel is 6” round and contains 350 calories! But wait, there’s more.

Twenty years ago, a cheeseburger had 333 calories. Today, it’s 590 calories. The serving size is the same (one cheeseburger), but the portion — the size — of the cheeseburger and the added sugar has increased.

That’s how we gain weight without even realizing it. According to an ABC News report, the average American will consume a hefty 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving dinner alone. Drinks, dessert and appetizers can rachet up the total calorie count to 4,500!

For every additional 3,500 calories we consume, we gain one pound. So, be mindful on Thanksgiving. According to a Cornell University study published in 2016 in the New England Journal of Medicine, half the weight gained around the holidays can stick around until the summer months.

So, what can we do? Well, knowledge is the best defense against unwanted weight gain. If you thought the facts on the bagel and the cheeseburger were eye opening, I invite you to take the following quiz, compliments of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which compares today’s portions to those from 20 years ago and the amount of physical activity it takes to burn those extra calories.

— Two and a half ounces of French fries 20 years ago had 210 calories. How many calories do you think are in today’s portion? a. 590 b. 610 c. 650

— A cup of coffee with milk and sugar 20 years ago was 8 ounces and had 45 calories. How many calories do you think are in today’s mocha coffee? a. 100 b. 350 c. 450

— Two large slices of pepperoni pizza 20 years ago had 500 calories. How many calories do you think are in today’s large pizza slices? a. 850 b. 1,000 c. 1,200

— A box of popcorn had 270 calories 20 years ago. How many calories do you think are in today’s tub of popcorn? a. 520 b. 630 c. 820

— A chicken Caesar salad had 390 calories 20 years ago. How many calories do you think are in today’s chicken Caesar salad? a. 520 b. 650 c. 790


French fries: b. 610 calories (vs. 210) for today’s 6.9 oz portion. If you walk leisurely for 1 hour and 10 minutes, you’ll burn the extra 400 calories.

Coffee: b. 350 calories (vs. 45) for today’s 16-ounce cup of coffee. If you walk approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, you’ll burn the extra 305 calories.

Pizza: a. 850 calories (vs. 500) for two large slices of pizza. If you play golf (while walking and carrying your clubs) for one hour, you’ll burn the extra 350 calories.

Popcorn: b. 630 calories (vs. 270) for today’s tub of popcorn. If you do water aerobics for one hour and 15 minutes, you’ll burn the extra 360 calories.

Chicken Caesar salad: c. 790 calories (vs. 390) for today’s 3-cup portion. If you walk your dog for 1 hour and 20 minutes, you’ll burn the extra 400 calories.

Mind blown.

If you enjoyed reading this, then please visit where you can find more fitness information along with my Healthy Recipe of the Week: Beef Steak with Carrots and Mint.

Have a fitness question? Send them to me, Your Personal Trainer, at [email protected] and write ‘Ramona Sentinel’ in the subject line.

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