Know Your Food Portion Sizes

It is no secret that portion sizes, as well as waistlines, have super-sized over the past few decades. Research estimates that the increase in portion sizes has lead to an increase in caloric intake. Today we are consuming roughly 93 more calories from salty snacks, 49 more calories from soft drinks, 97 more calories from hamburgers, 68 more calories from French fries, and 133 more calories for Mexican dishes.

Eating a healthful portion size of food can be difficult when super-sized portions are the norm. However, learning appropriate portion sizes can play a key role in weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight. Here are the top tips to help you control food portions and lose weight:

  1. Familiarize Yourself with Healthful Portions
  2. Teaspoon of fat (butter, mayonnaise, oil) = size of your thumb tip
    1 ounce serving of cheese = six playing dice
    2 tablespoons peanut butter = size of ping pong ball
    1 ounce nuts = shot glass
    3 ounces meat = deck of cards
    3 ounces fish = size of checkbook
    1/2 cup fruit or vegetables = size of small fist
    1/2 cup cooked grains = 1/2 baseball
    1 cup cooked pasta = size of tennis ball

  3. Take the Portion Challenge
    Take the portion challenge by measuring and weighing everything you eat into healthful portions for seven days. After seven days you will have developed skills to better estimate portion size and retrained your senses to the correct portion sizes. This challenge should be done periodically since the American environment tends to untrain this skill over time.
  4. Mini-Size Your Food Packages
    Pre-portion food items sold in super-sized containers into small single-serving packages. You can still save money and buy in bulk while preventing yourself from overeating. Remember the bigger the package the more we eat and the smaller the package the less we eat.
  5. Regularly Eat Portion-Controlled Meals
    Eating low-calorie frozen portion-controlled meals with a large salad once or twice a week will help you visualize a healthful portion of pasta, stir fry, or meat.

Even diet foods have super-sized. Lean Cuisine developed a frozen dinner with 100 bonus calories called “Hearty Portions,” and Weight Watchers introduced Smart Ones Satisfying Selections, which are 30% larger than their regular meals.

The problem with larger portions is that when we are given more we eat more and in term will weight more. How come? Well big packages and big portions suggest a consumption norm or what is appropriate to use or eat at one time. For example, you may not finish a restaurant sized plate of pasta but you will most likely take a few more bites than if you were served the appropriate one cup serving of pasta.

Super-sized portions lead to an increase in our consumption norms, which lead to an increase in consumption. One study showed that women eat 31% more and men eat 56% more food when a foot long sub was served compared to a 6-inch sub. Another study showed that individuals consume about 30% more calories when given the largest portion size of a meal (100 g) compared to the smallest portion size (500 g).

Resizing your food portions may not come easy at first, but if you stick with it, you will see results.

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