Sunday, March 9, 2014

What This Mother Learned... Will Shock You!

There's something about knowing you have time to kill and nowhere to go that makes you amenable to listening to strangers. October through April, I spend Saturdays sitting through soccer and swimming and basketball practices. I enjoy seeing these still kids/almost adults push themselves to the limits of their incredible, healthy bodies. It's great to see the nervous energy pre-game and the relief and joy in a slim-won victory, personal best or team work. The hours here on the bleachers are satisfying, even when we're cramped together with opposing teams, seeing people we've never seen before and won't likely see again.

But all this does nothing to propel this story forward. Anyway, we parents sit and wait for the end of practice, for the end of the game, for the end of the rounds. If you bring a book to read during practice, often times you finish it and are left, just sitting, staring into space. Others are sitting too, looking up and around, and some folks are the meandering type, loving meeting new people. You chit chat and sometimes, someone will bring up a subject that piques your interest.

Yesterday, I found out that a can of soup is considered two servings. Gasp.

The stranger talking to me had dropped this bomb, without topic introduction. Once my stranger-talker saw my eyes widen in surprise, I could tell it thrilled her. She zapped me again. "Go ahead. Guess how many potato chips are a serving. Go ahead."

Um, a bag?

"Nope. TEN. Ten chips make up a serving."

Holy smokes. I looked at the bag in my hand that I had just bought from the concession stand. I've been eating a quantity of chips in an amount set aside for the Trojan Army.

My Friend for The Moment liked shocking me. And she had a live wire with this next volt of knowledge: "You'll never guess how much pasta is a serving."

Somehow I knew that a soup bowl full would be enough for a family of four, not just a bored mom at 11 a.m. I was right. A single serving of pasta is one cup cooked. Seriously, I've downed that by 11:03 as my second breakfast.

My new friend was loving giving me what I call the terror sh*ts. What in the world, and portion sizes for whom, who eats like a little hamster? was all I could think.

It didn't take much more facial grimacing from me to encourage a stream of terrifying food single serving horror stories from this bleacher pal:

--rice that fits into a tennis ball is a single serving
--bread the size of a CD case is a  single serving
--broccoli the shape of a light bulb is a single serving
--a cute little computer mouse portion of potatoes is all one person needs!

Stop! I begged her, my hand up and all, Please Stop!

She couldn't. The food facts flowed out of her like a long suppressed volcano.

--side by side 9-V batteries worth of cheese is all your butt needs!

Even in Wisconsin, I wondered? She began talking faster.

--seven cotton balls worth of melon!

Her voice was rising in pitch.

--peanut butter no more than a ping pong ball dollop!

Her hair was beginning to curl around her flushed face.


Okay, okay, I told her. I got it.

She stopped. Heaving out a heavy breath, she was spent.

I handed over my bag of chips to her. I can't, I said, I can't finish these. Thank you so much for letting me know, I had no idea. Thank you.

No problem, she assured me, tucking the chips into her brown leather travel bag. I watched her generously wander over to the next bleacher, where I saw someone else gingerly close the cover to their book, obviously finishing it before it was time to leave. The book reader was about to tear open into her Golden Kettle-cooked chips. My food friend arrived just in time, and within seconds, I recognized the open-mouthed terror-stricken look of receiving the commandments of Single Serving Size Food.

Just two minutes later, and in the same way as I had just done, I saw the book-reading woman surrender her bag of chips to our Food Facts Yogi.

At the end of our hour and a half practice, I caught sight of our food professor as she left the gym. Her bag was bulging with yellow bags of chips, Skittles, and Kit Kat bars. What a Good Samaritan, willing to take on the dangers of portion sizes for us.

The world is made up of every day heroes.

* * *

Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover


  1. Is it possible that she's developed that spiel as a way to get groceries without having to shop or pay for them? Really, it would be a good scam!

  2. She probably sat and laughed while she ate all the collected contraband!

  3. I totally wasn't expecting THAT to be the ending to this story! Scam-oh-rama!

  4. Some just spread joy wherever they go!

  5. oy. have had to face this reality this week with my dad...
    after his heart attack on monday when the nutritionist
    came in and gave us the facts....oy, it was brutal

  6. truth or not she wouldn't have gotten my chips. I would have folded them up and slammed her with a few more food facts that I can guarantee would have sent her running the other way.. like do you know why we should not eat pork ever?? yeah I won't go there but I would have with her..

  7. Those are the things I did NOT need to know.
    3 scoops of ice cream is one serving right?

  8. I get it that serving sizes are way, way smaller than we have come to believe. But it's a little disturbing to memorize all those actual serving sizes. I think packaging ought to have to list the calories, fat or whatever by package size as well as serving size. What good is knowing that your pack of six cookies is 100 calories if half a cookie is a serving size? I don't do math while I eat. It should have to say "1200 calories per pack."

  9. Oh, that woman is GOOD. Also, sometimes we need to eat like a Trojan army because life is often a battle... except when it's a party - then we should eat lots of bite-sized hors d'oeuvres.

  10. Great scam, but she's right. As a woman with more than a decade of sane and reasonable Weight Watchers practice under her belt, I *did* know all those horrible truths :) I can regale you with comparisons to carpal digits, packs of cards, etc., I just never thought to put it to such elegant use!

    1. Google comments *hate* me. It's Cameron, of the eponymously named fiction blog :)

  11. Hilarious! I kept thinking you would end this with you seeing your friend down all the junk food in her car! lol. She probably did. I do pay attention to serving sizes, but I try not to be obsessed about it. It, or obsessing, only makes me eat more. It's weird psychology.

  12. Thanks, Jessica. I enjoyed your post today. I've been thinking along the same lines.

  13. I shut my eyes to the horrors of portion size because I simply cannot bear it. I just cannot.



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