Getting a Handle on Portion Control

Congratulations! You’ve made it to week 8 of BlogHer’s Inspiration to Fitness! Julie and I hope that this challenge has helped you make positive changes to your diet. If you missed the previous weeks, you can still catch up and follow along at your own pace. Review our earlier posts and you can incorporate week one’s goal into your diet starting today.

No More Portion Distortion!

This week’s focus is on portion size. In the last several decades, portions in the US have become larger and larger. It’s no coincidence that as portions have grown, so have waistlines. In the 1960s, 45% of Americans were overweight or obese. Today that number is nearing 70%!

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Studies show that the more food put in front of people, the more they eat. Twenty years ago, a typical cheeseburger had 330 calories; today, it’s 590. The French fries you ordered on the side 20 years ago were a 2.4-ounce handful totaling 210 calories; today the standard order is a heaping 6.9 ounces, packing 610 calories.

So when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, what you eat matters, but so does the quantity of what you eat. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day enough to help them lose a half-pound a week and still felt full.

Make 2012 the year you get a handle on portion size with the following strategies:

Get to Know A Portion

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One of the best ways to begin to control portions is to get familiar with what a portion should be. Here’s list of common foods and 1 serving equivalents.

What Does 1 Serving Look Like?

Grain Products:
1 cup of cereal flakes = fist
1 pancake = compact disc
1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or potato = 1/2 baseball
1 slice of bread = cassette tape
1 piece of cornbread = bar of soap

Vegetables and Fruit:
1 cup of salad greens = baseball
1 baked potato = fist
1 medium fruit = baseball
1/2 cup of fresh fruit = 1/2 baseball
1/4 cup of raisins = large egg

Dairy and Cheese:
1 1/2 oz. cheese = 4 stacked dice or 2 cheese slices
1/2 cup of ice cream = 1/2 baseball
Fats?1 tsp. margarine or spreads = 1 dice

Meat and Alternatives:
3 oz. meat, fish or poultry = deck of cards
3 oz. grilled/baked fish = checkbook
2 Tbsp. peanut butter = ping pong ball

Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Set Your Table for Weight Loss

Did you know the way you set your table can influence how many calories you eat?

That’s right, there are some simple ways you can change your home environment to reduce the calories you eat. In fact research shows that going from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate can reduce how much you eat by about 22%. Just using a smaller plate can fool your brain into thinking you are satisfied on fewer calories!
The same is true for smaller bowls and spoons. Smaller servings spoons were found to result in a 14% decrease in food intake, while smaller bowls led to a whopping 50% decrease in eating.

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Forget Family-Style

Studies also found that people eat food that’s on a table much more frequently than food that’s off the table. That may seem obvious, but so many of us leave food out on the table making second and third helping much more likely. In one study men ate 29% more food when a serving dish was on the table vs. the counter. Women ate about 10% more when the serving dish was on the table. So fill your plate at the counter, then bring it to the dining table. Leave the serving dish off the table.

Dining Out? Doggie-Bag It!

Some of the biggest portion pitfalls happen when dining out Ð when restaurants supersize everything from salads to sundaes. If you eat out often, you need to always keep portion sizes in mind. Try these tips:

* Ask about half portions or order from the child’s menu.

* If you get a full portion size, doggie bag half your entre before you start eating.

* Share your food with your companion.

* Eat a healthy appetizer and soup or salad instead of an entre.

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