How Can I Follow a Healthy Diet if I Eat Out a Lot?

Armen Hareyan's picture

Many diets say to limit my sodium to an amount measured in milligrams per day, but exactly how much salt is that?

Salt is also labeled as sodium chloride. Soda, sodium bicarbonate, and the symbol "Na" on food labels mean the product contains sodium. Here are some general guidelines:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 milligrams (mg) sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,200 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,800 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,400 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1,000 mg sodium

It's hard to know if my portions are too big or too small for a healthy diet. Do I have to measure everything I'm eating?

It can be hard to learn if your portions of food are putting you over amounts of things you're trying to control. It doesn't help that sizes for everything from bananas to soft drinks have gotten larger in the past 20 years. It's not enough to eat the right kinds of food to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight. Eating the right amount of food at each meal is just as important. If you are a healthy eater, it is possible to sabotage your efforts by eating more than the recommended amount of food. A serving is a specific amount of food, and it might be smaller than you realize. Here are some examples:

  • A serving of meat (boneless, cooked weight) is two to three ounces, or roughly the size of the palm of your hand, a deck of cards, or an audiocassette tape.

  • A serving of chopped vegetables or fruit is 1/2 cup, or approximately half a baseball or a rounded handful.


  • A serving of fresh fruit is one medium piece, or the size of a baseball.

  • A serving of cooked pasta, rice, or cereal is 1/2 cup, or half a baseball or a rounded handful.

  • A serving of cooked beans is 1/2 cup, or half a baseball or a rounded handful.

  • A serving of nuts is 1/3 cup, or a level handful for an average adult.

  • A serving of peanut butter is two tablespoons, about the size of a golf ball.

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