Sunday, September 14, 2014

How can I control portion sizes?

No argue that controlling portions of foods you eat is crucial in managing your weight and maintaining healthy eating patterns; even too much of the right food can negatively affect your weight loss attempts!

The question is: how to control your portions and make it a habit?

Before we solve that; let’s first take a look at the relation between large food portions and obesity.

 

Obesity and super-sized meals

According to the NHLBI; over the last 20 years, food serving sizes have dramatically increased; they are going larger and larger with time, for example:

- Cheeseburger portion has changed from 130 g to 230g,

- Soda portion has changed from 195 ml to 590 ml,

- Blueberry muffin has changed from 43 g to 140 g [1]

Short-term studies show that people eat more when they are offered larger portion size [2]; larger portions mean more calories. So summing-up those extra unnecessary calories over days will end up in couple of kilograms stuck to your body by the end of the year.

 

Controlling your food portions

How to measure and estimate?

The first step toward controlling your portions is being aware of how much you eat currently compared to how much you should be eating; and the best way to do that is to be familiar with the recommended serving sizes set by large food agencies such as USDA and ADA (American Dietetic Association), and start adapting the right portions for you.

Weighing foods can give you more accurate measuring of meals you eat, but it could be tricky and difficult to do especially when eating out, that’s why familiarizing yourself with other tools of measuring and estimating portions is helpful.

To help you with that, we have two sources for you:

- Exchange lists (with images illustrating how to estimate portions)

- Food groups (with serving size estimation of each group)

 

Portion size vs. Nutritional density!

Size is not everything when it comes to controlling portions; you need to consider nutritional and caloric density too. For example: a bowel of mainly-lettuce-salad is rich in vitamins and minerals, but may not even have half of calories set in a caramel-chocolate bar which is scare in nutrients.

So eat less of the empty-calorie foods, and go easy on yourself when it comes to nutrient-rich, low calorie foods.

 

Food labels “servings per container”

While you check the nutrition facts of packaged foods you buy –you do that right?!-, pay attention to the number of serving they contains; cause by eating the whole package, you might be eating double or triple of the nutrients listed for one serving size on it’s label.

 

Tips for smaller portions

Other than measuring and estimating portion sizes, there are some tricks you can follow to reduce the size of your portions:

  • Go for smaller dishes, bowels and cups. Big plates tempt you to fill them, and this is bad for two reasons; you would eat more than you need, or you won’t finish it and hence increasing size of food waste.
  • Use portion-control plates or serve your foods in a restaurant-style way so you can actually see how much you ate from each food.
  • Start your meals with soups and veggies, cause they fill-up your stomach; making you less likely to pour too much of the main dish.
  • Don’t add liquid foods by pouring, when you add oils and dressing, always use a measuring tool (e.g. tablespoon), cause when you pour them, you wouldn't know how much did you use exactly.
  • Plan your meal a head, so you won’t let your appetite at the moment decide for you.

 

Check out Fitnessyard’s recipes directory that provides you with dozens of healthy recipes with their calories and serving weighted.

Have any question or need further help? Tell us about it in Fitnessyard's forum.

 

References:

1-  www.nhlbi.nih.gov

2-  www.cdc.gov

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