No one wants to go through life measuring out everything they eat as that would not be sustainable, and certainly NOT enjoyable. However, it is really important to understand what a portion is. Often we are just bystanders in the foods we consume, we are served an amount and we simply eat that amount. Unfortunately, this is an easy way to let your health get away from you.
Here are some tips for keeping your portion sizes in check:
When you purchase snacks from a to-go counter, or convenience store, always do a quick check to see how many servings there are. Many beverages are actually two servings per bottle, not one. This is also true for snack foods. Do not assume a package of chips, beef jerky, or sunflower seeds are one individual serving, take time to look.
Use Your Fist
Our stomachs are roughly the same size as our fists. For some of us this is not going to be very big. That means each time you eat you need about that much food (chewed, not whole) to fill you up. Making a fist creates a good visual, especially when eating out where portions can be two to four times what we actually need.
Leftovers are a wonderful way to have your next snack, or meal, already done for you! Eat half of your order and take half to go! To make your next meal more interesting think about what you can add to your leftovers to spice things up! For example, if you have some chicken and roasted veggies for dinner you can add the leftovers to a big plate of greens, maybe add some additional fresh veggies and create a wonderful, healthy salad in no time at all.
Maybe you were taught to clean your plate as a child, or you feel you need to eat all of your food because you paid for it? Try to flip your thinking when it comes to finishing meals. When your body signals that you are full it is time to put the fork down and let your body get to work digesting the nutrients you just provided. Do not be afraid to part with unfinished portions. Enjoy the foods you chose to nourish yourself with, and part graciously with those you do not need.
Study after study has shown when we multi-task we overeat. There may be rare occasions where you must eat your lunch at your desk, but try to make eating while doing other activities the exception, not the rule. It is hard to keep track of how much you have eaten if you are not mindfully engaged in your meal. We also have a tendency to forget what we ate, and when we last ate, if we eat while multi-tasking. Give your nourishment your full attention and odds are you will eat less.
How Does Your Kitchen Measure Up?
Open your cupboard and take out a dinner plate, a salad plate, a cereal bowl, a juice/milk glass and a wine glass. How big are your dinner plates? Could you eat your meals on a salad plate and still be satisfied? Are your cereal bowls 2 cups in size, even though most cereal boxes consider 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup to be one full serving? When it comes to beverages, most products consider 8 ounces to be a full serving, yet most of us have glasses that are 12 to 24 ounces in size. If you are wine connoisseur you already know a serving of wine is around 130 calories and 5 ounces, but do you know what 5 ounces looks like? Often we are served 9 ounces of wine, which is perfectly fine, as long as you realize your glass nearly doubled in calories.
Know When to Measure
There are times that it does benefit you to simply measure out your portions. There are foods we all buy and often overindulge in; dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate covered nuts and berries, trail mix. Bulk snack food items are the perfect foods to measure out. A serving size is small, often a 1/4 cup, and can easily be overeaten. These are the perfect foods to open and measure out into snack bags, or small mason jars. When you are on the run you can simply grab a pre-portioned snack and not worry about how much is too much!
Here are some good visuals to keep in mind for controlling portions:
A Baseball = 1 cup/ A deck of cards = 3 ounces / 4 dice = 1 ounce
How do you keep your portions from getting away from you? Share your tips below.