In today’s world, we are blinded by fast food and restaurant serving sizes. We have become accustomed to excessive portion sizes and constantly cleaning our plate. Understanding portion control is an important step to improving your overall health. Always know that it’s never too late to learn about portion sizes and take control of your eating habits!
Both quality and quantity play a role when it comes to nutrition. A healthy diet emphasizes whole and natural foods, but also instills a sense of moderation and balance. Too much of anything, even a typical “healthy food,” is never good.
As we get used to extreme portion sizes and start to eat more, our stomach capacity stretches and we become used to this excessive amount of food. Eating more becomes a habit, training the body and brain to consume larger amounts of food. Ultimately, eating in excess of what the body needs will lead to weight gain and extra energy being stored as fat.
A few simple tips can help you get a grasp on portion control. Getting back to simplicity and moderation will help you eat more mindfully and be on the road towards a healthier you!
Carrying around a set of measuring cups and a food scale isn’t exactly the most practical thing. Keep these measuring items in your home to properly portion out food. When you are out and about, remember this simple guide that can help you visualize appropriate portion sizes:
• 3 oz lean meat/poultry = deck of cards
• 1 c of pasta = baseball
• 1½ oz of cheese = 3-4 stacked dice
• ½ c fresh fruit = tennis ball
• 1 tsp margarine = 1 dice
Track Your Food For A Day
Have you ever tracked your food on a mobile app? Excessive portion sizes can add up, leading to a tremendous caloric surplus over the course of the week. Track your food to get a better understanding of what a typical day of eating looks like for you. You may find that some foods are adding excess calories that you could easily cut out. You’ll also grow a great appreciation for portion control when you see how it works in the big picture.
Put All Snacks On A Plate
The bigger the package, the harder it may be to visualize a portion size. Instead of mindlessly eating out of the bag, portion out a serving and actually put it on a plate! Visualize how much you can eat for the appropriate amount of calories. Add more mindfulness to your eating by sitting down at the kitchen table and savoring every bite, even for something as simple as a small snack. You can also opt for single serving bags to ensure you stay within the appropriate portion size.
Serve Vegetables Family-Style
Typically, we serve pasta and main entrée dishes family-style. These are the dishes that often are full of excess fat and calories. Instead, serve up steamed or grilled vegetables in a family-style way. Purchase different colors of vegetables to get a variety of healthy phytonutrients. Place a large serving plate in the center of the dinner table and load it up with delicious vegetables.
Watch Your Liquid Calories
Liquid calories can add up quickly. Don’t fall into the trap of drinking away your calories for the day. Soda and fruit juice are packed with exorbitant amounts of sugar and typically have little nutritional value. If you are going to have these drinks, pour yourself one glass. Try to dilute it with water or seltzer water for added volume with fewer calories. Opt for water, naturally-flavored seltzer water, and herbal tea for low-calorie alternatives.
Pick one or two of these tips to master within the upcoming weeks. Small changes can lead to big results when it comes to portion control and weight management. Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.
Stefani Pappas, RDN, CDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit her website www.StefHealthTips.com for more information and to schedule an appointment.