As many people struggle with managing their weight, it is no coincidence that portion sizes have increased steadily over the past 30 years. Most portions served in restaurants, fast food establishments and at home are two to five times larger than they were in the past. And, it’s easy to just “clean your plate” without thinking about fullness or appropriate serving size. Our “super-sized” society sneaks extra calories into almost every meal unless you are prepared to take control.
This quote says it all: “I can out-eat any exercise plan!” The ‘calories in’ side of the weight management equation means that it’s not just what you choose to eat but how much you eat or drink that can have a significant impact on your weight. A couple of things you can start doing is Learn How to Eat Better and Learn How to Create Quick & Healthy Meals. These two skills will allow you to conquer your nutritional habits and make those habit feel like second nature.
So what can you do to manage your portions better? Follow these four steps and you will be well on your way…
Step 1 – Determine What an Actual Serving Size Looks Like
A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat; a serving is the recommended amount of food established by the USDA from each food group. Use the chart below to determine how much food equals one serving. Pay attention to the serving size and servings per container on food labels. Often, the serving size is less than you’d expect. For example, many beverage containers are actually 2 or 2.5 servings per bottle—that means double the calories if you consume the whole thing.
Portion Control Guide
When you’re not sure about your serving size and you don’t have access to measuring tools, use your HAND as a guide for estimating your portions.
Step 2 – Determine How Many Servings You Need From Each Food Group
Most people struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables, while others might eat too many grains or meat servings. The infographic above provide a suggested amount of food to include with each meal, based on gender.* Use this information as an additional tool to help you improve your nutritional balance and to be more conscious of your portions.
*To determine your estimated recommended daily calorie goal, go to mealplans.yourfitnesspath.com/calorie-calculator
Step 3 – Move to a Balanced Plate Approach
One of the simplest ways to practice portion control and make better choices is by changing how you plate your food. Aim to fill at least half your plate with non-starchy vegetables—foods that are naturally low in calories and full of nutrients. Fill eighth with a source of healthy fats. Round out the remaining one-fourth with fish, skinless poultry, lean meat or other protein. Enjoy a serving of fruit and water or other unsweetened drink on the side.
Tips for a Balanced Plate
- Gradually replace foods that are high in fat, sodium and added sugar with plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. These foods are high in nutrients, water, and fiber and may help you manage your weight and stay healthy. They can help you feel full, even as you are eating fewer calories.
- Start thinking of lean protein (e.g. fish, poultry or meat) as a side dish instead of the main course.
- Include whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and brown rice with your meals. Mixing half white rice with half brown rice or half white pasta and half whole-grain pasta is a good way to start.
- You CAN change your palate. It just takes time and practice.
Step 4 – Tips to Eat Less and Still Feel Satisfied
Will eating proper serving sizes leave you hungry? There are ways to help you feel satisfied with less food. The suggestions below can get you started and regular practice will help you adjust to this “new normal”.
Choose two things you will try this week:
- Measure out your food portions for a week until you have a good idea of what a proper serving looks like
- Stay on schedule — plan meals and snacks throughout the day
- Slow your eating pace
- Be seated when eating, preferably at a table
- Take smaller bites and chew food thoroughly
- Take pleasure in what you are eating; savor every bite
- Pretend you are watching yourself eat in a mirror
- Pause for a minute or two of deep breathing or something calming before and/or during the meal
- Make sure your mouth is empty before taking another bite
- Set your eating utensils or food down between bites
- Take a sip or two of water between bites
- Instead of eating or snacking out of a container, bag, or pot, place an appropriate serving on a plate or bowl and put the rest away
- Use smaller dishes when eating at home
- When eating out, separate half of your meal when it arrives and ask for a box or doggie bag right away
You can take control of your portions and still feel satisfied. It takes awareness, practice and trying new things. For many, portion control is one of the many keys to long term weight management success!
Need some additional guidance?
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