Practicing Portion Control


You go out for dinner and order spaghetti with marinara sauce and a side of grilled veggies. The pasta is so plentiful that it’s falling off the plate. Yes, your meal is nutritious. But can too much of a good thing be not so good? Absolutely.

How super is supersize?
In the era of the supersized meal it’s often hard to recognize normal portion sizes. Giant bottles of soda, extra-large bags of chips and king-size candy bars are part of our everyday eating landscape. But unfortuantely, as our portion sizes get larger, so do our waistlines. And bigger packages can also sabotage portion control.

Research from the University of Illinois shows that people may tend to eat more food when it’s served in larger containers. When movie-goers were given the same amount of popcorn in containers of two different sizes, the people given the larger tubs ate 44 percent more. (The lesson here is to use a smaller plate at dinner!)

Sizing things up
To keep portions in perspective, you need a tool to help you navigate through bulked-up portions. Visualizing recommended serving sizes by relating them to common household objects is an easy and useful technique. By comparing food portions to things you already recognize, you should be able to eyeball a food item and guesstimate how large it is. Long gone are the days of carrying around a food scale. It’s wise to weigh things occasionally to get an accurate idea of how big portions should be, but relating those measurements to common objects and teaching yourself to recognize them will be a great step toward achieving your weight-loss goals.

For example:

Your fist is about the same size as one cup of fruit or pasta

Your thumb (tip to base) is the size of one ounce of meat or cheese

Your palm (minus fingers) equals three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry

Your cupped hand equals one to two ounces of nuts or pretzels

Putting it into action
Once you have serving sizes committed to memory, you’ll be ready to fit them into your eating plan.

Limit servings of high-fat foods such as fatty meats and fried foods

Buy single-servings of some foods, such as 1-ounce bags of chips or 1/2-cup servings of ice cream

Remember that servings of most vegetables are extremely low in fat and calories. Bell peppers and button mushrooms just might become your new best buddies!

About Lisa Goldberg

Hello! And Welcome to my blog, Health News From Your HealthCoach. Having been in the health and fitness industry for the last 16 years, I know that diet and nutrition information can be overwhelming and ever-changing. Over the years I have been asked many of the same questions. “How can I lose weight?” “How can I maintain my weight loss?” “What kind of vitamins should I take?” ” What’s the best alcohol to drink when I’m dieting?” I will address these questions and many others in Health News From Your HealthCoach. My Bio I am a nutritionist with a Masters degree in clinical nutrition from New York University. I am a Certified Nutrition Specialist through the American College of Nutrition, and a Certified Dietician/Nutritionist through New York State. I am also a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. My company, HealthCoach, has been delivering healthy lunches to trading desks at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and JPMorgan amongst others, since 2004. I counsel my HealthCoach clients and private clients on weight loss, behavior/lifestyle modification and overall health and wellbeing.
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