Make Sure Your Portions aren’t Super-Sized if you want to Lose Weight in the New Year.
In the past twenty years, our food portions have become super-sized with double and triple-patty cheeseburgers, extra-large fries and huge soft drinks. And just as our food portions have grown in size, so have our waistlines.
Obesity in the U.S. has climbed to include one-third of all American adults, compared to 23% in the late 1980s. This can be attributed to many factors, the first obvious one being the poor eating habits of Americans, which includes our skewed ideas of what proper food portions look like.
Today, a typical American meal at McDonald’s, consisting of a Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese (750 calories), large fries (500 calories) and 30-ounce soft drink (280 calories), adds up to 1,530 calories for just one meal. And if you want dessert, such as a large 16-ounce Oreo Cookie McFlurry, you can add another 690 calories to your meal.
Two decades ago, a typical cup of coffee was 8-ounces with milk and sugar and totaled about 45 calories. Today’s typical cup of coffee is more like 12 ounces flavored with syrup, cream and sugar, for a total of 350 calories or more. And add another 200 calories if you like your coffee topped with whipped cream. Many Americans drink this type of coffee beverage on a daily basis, which by year-end could total 127,750 to 200,750 extra calories, depending on whether you like whipped cream or not. Theoretically, that’s enough extra calories to gain 36-57 pounds by the end of one year if you figure it takes 3,500 calories to gain one pound.
Muffins have grown in size exponentially over the years as well. Twenty years ago, a typical blueberry muffin was about 1.5 ounces and 210 calories. Today, muffin have ballooned up to 5 ounces and 500 calories each or more.
These are just a few examples of how our ideas of portion sizes have been distorted over the years and why it can be tricky to know what proper portion sizes actually look like.
People are notoriously bad at guessing what a cup of cereal looks like or estimating how many almonds is in a 1-ounce serving (about 20 almonds, or a handful). That’s why it is so important to learn what correct portion sizes are so you can know how many calories you are eating, and more importantly, so you can avoid overeating.
Try these 7 Portion Control Tips to Slim Down in 2015
This is the time of year when people are making their New Year’s Resolutions, and one that often tops the list is to lose weight in the coming year. Here are 7 portion control tips to help you better monitor how much you are eating and achieve your weight management goals in 2015:
Portion Control Tip #1: Measure and weigh your food.
Buy a kitchen scale and break out your measuring cups because you’ll need them. Measuring and weighing your food is critical, according to LuAnn Berry, RD, a certified diabetes educator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “We’re such poor judges. We don’t know what 3/4 ounces of pretzels looks like.” (It’s about 15 mini pretzels. Who knew?)
Portion Control Tip #2: Know some tricks for estimating food portions.
Did you know that 3 ounces of lean meat is equivalent to the size of a deck of cards or that 1 cup of breakfast cereal is about the size of your fist? These measuring tricks are particularly helpful when you’re dining out and don’t have your scale or measuring cups with you.
For a handy serving size cheat sheet, go to http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/servingcard7.pdf to print out a serving size card that will fit in your wallet, compliments of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Portion Control Tip #3: Know the difference between “serving size” and “portion size.”
Serving sizes per container are listed on the nutrition facts labels on packaged foods. For example, a small bag of pretzels may say it contains two servings per bag, so if you eat the whole bag (your portion size), you’re eating twice the number of calories, fat, salt, etc., listed per serving on the label.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you should shrink your portion sizes down to match the serving sizes on food labels in order to more accurately monitor your intake of calories, fats, sugars, salt and carbohydrates. And after reading some food labels, you may choose not to eat them at all based on their unhealthy contents. Make healthier food choices whenever possible, such as eating an apple instead of a candy bar, or eating carrots and low-fat dip instead of munching on a bag of cheese doodles.
Portion Control Tip #4: Use special portion-control plates.
Portion control plates are marked with helpful lines for quickly measuring carbohydrates, proteins, cheeses, and sauces. Studies have found these plates to be helpful for dieters wanting to lose weight.
You can also just use smaller plates in general, so when you fill your plate, you still have the illusion of eating a full plate of food, but in reality, you are eating less than you would on a regular-sized dinner plate, for example.
Portion Control Tip #5: Maintain sensible eating habits when dining out at restaurants.
Just because dining out is a special treat for you and your family doesn’t mean you get a free pass for overeating.
To keep your diet on-track, it’s a good idea to fill up on leafy greens and vegetables before eating other items from the menu. And remember that restaurants are known for serving mega-sized portions and can easily serve you four servings of meat in one meal, such as with a 12-ounce steak, for example. You may want to ask your waiter to serve half of your meal to you and put the other half in a to-go bag to take home.
Portion Control Tip #6: Plan healthy meals and snacks and eat your meals on schedule.
Like to old adage says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is especially true with meal planning.
“People need to eat a minimum of three times a day, avoiding going longer than five hours without eating,” says Nadine Uplinger, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and director of the Gutman Diabetes Institute at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia.
For best results, plan your daily schedule to include three sensible, well-balanced meals with one to two 100-calorie snacks per day.
By planning your meals and snacks and not leaving them up to last-minute decisions, you’ll be better able to avoid impulsive eating habits.
Portion Control Tip #7: Don’t skip your meals.
It’s important to get yourself in the habit of eating on schedule and not skipping any meals. If you’re not hungry at your regular mealtime, just eat lightly. Never skip meals completely because this sets you up to be hungry later for snacking when you could easily fall back into poor eating habits.
By practicing these portion control tips, you’ll be able to eat more sensibly and stay within your dieting parameters in order to achieve your weight management goals in 2015.
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