Tag Archives: eating healthy portion sizes

Portion Distortion!

2 May

Weight loss is a balancing act between calories in to calories out. If you are putting more calories in than your body needs for energy, then it will store the energy and gain weight. If you are putting less calories in than your body needs, then you will lose weight. If the calories you put in equal the calories you put out, then you will stay in balance. The equation is a simple concept, but actually solving the equation in real life isn’t so easy! Just go to a fast food restaurant and you can see that the portion sizes are out of control and have been increasing over the years.

 Processed food portion sizes have changed over the years. Take a look at this picture from what the portion sizes used to be to what they are now.

Portion sizes can be confusing! Just take a look at the recommended portion sizes below for rice, potatoes, pasta, oil, cheese, meat, peanut butter,and a bagel. Sometimes it is overwhelming trying to always think about portion sizes when trying to lose weight. Well let me tell you something, you do not have to! Think about how babies eat. Do they measure or weigh how much they eat before they eat it? No! They eat when they are hungry and when they are full they stop eating! That is exactly how we as adults should eat! That is called Intuitive Eating. Really becoming aware of when we are really hungry and when we are biologically full is important to maintain a regular weight. It is important to also be aware of what goes into our mouths!  
2 portions of cooked rice = a light bulb
That’s 2 servings of grains.
1 medium potato (2.5-3 inch wide) = the size of a computer mouse
That’s equal to 1 cup of vegetables.
1 portion of pasta is ½ cup = ½ a baseball
That’s a 1-ounce serving of grains.
1 teaspoon = a poker chip or a stack of four dimes
That’s 1 serving of fats and oils.
A 3-ounce portion = a deck of cards or the palm of your hand (minus fingers)
1 portion of cheese = four dice
That’s a 1-cup serving of dairy.
1/2 a medium bagel = a hockey puck
That’s a 1-ounce serving of grains
1 portion or 2 tablespoons = a golf ball
That’s 2 one-ounce servings of protein.

If our diets are high in highly processed foods like fast food, pop, frozen foods, boxed foods, restaurant foods, prepackaged foods and fast food portion control is hard.  This is because we are filling up on foods that are highly concentrated in calories and fat, low in fiber and low in nutrients..AKA the bad stuff. By the time we are full on this stuff we have consumed thousands of calories and hundreds of grams of fat! By eating these types of food we might be filling our belly’s, but not fueling our cells with the vitamins and minerals we need. Don’t be surprised if you become deficient in essential vitamins and minerals on this diet of processed foods.

If our diets are high in fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats (I choose to eliminate meat and dairy to make it even easier) portion control is easy. This is because we are filling up on the lower calorie, higher fiber, higher nutrient foods first…AKA the Good Stuff. By the time we are full on this goodness, we have consumed the right amount of calories, fat, vitamins and minerals that our bodies needs to thrive. 

Some other tips for portion sizes.

At The restaurant:

  • Avoid going to fast food joints, but if you must, order the kids meal! That is the actual size that you really need. 
  • Watch out for salads, they can be deceiving with all the cheese and heavy dressings. Order a light grilled chicken salad with light dressing and fruit instead of a taco salad. 
  • If you are at a sit down restaurant then order something to share with your friend. Or tell the server to box of half of you dish before they serve it to you. I was a server for many years in college and never had anyone ask me this, I would have been thrilled to box up half of the customer”s meal! Do not think that you are being a nuisance by asking this, you are the paying customer. 
  • Check out the restaurant’s website for nutrition information before you go! 
  • Never go to a buffet or order bottomless bowls. 
  • Order a small 8 oz soda with no refills instead of a 44 oz soda. You will save yourself over 400 calories. Or better yet, NO SODA! Water is the best choice!
  • Ask for salsa over cheese or sour cream.

When eating at home:

  • Avoid serving food American style at the table.  This will stop the urge for you to go back for seconds. 
  • When planning meals and grocery shopping, only buy enough food that you will need for the whole week. A snack food here occasionally ok, but avoid buying lots of snack foods like cookies, chips and pop. 
  • Try shrinking your plate. If you have a large plate at home about 12” inches then try buying plates that are 9” inches in diameter instead. If you eat all the food on a 12′ inch plate verses all the food on a 9” inch plate you would have to workout 1.5 hours to burn the extra calories you have eaten, about 500 more calories!

 When eating in front of the T.V:

  • Do not eat in front of the T.V! Ever! It encourages mindless overeating. That bag of chips will be gone before you know it! If you must eat in front of the T.V separate one portion of chips (according to the serving size on the back) in a bowl.
  • Eat healthier snacks like plain popcorn with cinnamon or carrots and peanut butter or cut up fresh fruit.
  • Eating at the table with your family and loved ones is more enjoyable anyway!

 Skipping meals:

  • What I have encountered is that many people are so busy throughout the day that they do not eat a good breakfast, then they skip lunch and just have a small snack. By the time they get home from work, they are starving and raid the cupboards for anything and everything, mostly junk food. 
  • Food choices are not thought through at this point, and this usually contributes to some major calorie consumption. First by having a good breakfast, a good lunch and a good snack you can avoid this when you get home from work. 
  • If you do not buy much junk food then you will be forced to eat something healthy! Out of site out of mind!

 Read the labels:

  • If you are not used to reading labels, then it is a good idea to start! 
  • You can see how many calories are in one serving. 
  • Most packaging have more than one serving. For example a 20 oz soda has about 2.5 servings. So when you are drinking the whole bottle you are drinking 2.5 times the amount of calories listed. 
  • By reading the labels you are in control of what you put into your body. 
  • Read the ingredient list too. If there is something you cannot pronounce, if probably is not good for you! 
  • If you have any questions about label reading then let me know!

Overall, focus on what you are eating, focus on when when you are really hungry and when you are full! If you are eating plenty of non-processed foods, fresh veggies, fruits, lean protein like beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds then the rest will come easy! You would be surprised how fast the weight will come off and how full you will be!


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