Portion Distortion

11056559_sDo you know how much food portions have changed over the past 20 years? We live in a super-sized society with everything 2 to 3 times bigger than they were 20 years ago. Restaurants serving plates with 2 to 4 servings on them combined with large drinks containing over 24 ounces of soda (3 servings 20 years ago). Twenty years ago a bagel was approximately 140 calories and measured about 3 inches in diameter; a bagel today is now 350 calories and 6 inches in diameter! Is it no wonder we are a society losing the battle with obesity?

There are steps you can do to control your portion sizes. One is to always read the nutrition label on whatever you happen to be purchasing at the supermarket. Just because the item looks like a serving size, does not mean it is. Some of the canned soups are actually listed as 2.5 servings, but show calorie, sodium and sugar count for 1 serving.

A serving size of protein (meat, pork, chicken and fish) is 4 to 6 ounces, about the size of your cell phone, a deck of cards or your fist. Compare that to the hefty 15 ounces sold at some restaurants! Fresh vegetables and salads are considered free as they are calorie dense and do not spike blood sugar. Be careful when adding the extras such as cheese, dressing, croutons and bacon. These items can quickly add to the calorie and fat count. A serving of starch (rice, potato, pasta) should be the size of a baseball, or approximately a 1 cup measure.

Dairy, if not chosen wisely, can pack on calories and added fat. Read labels to understand what you are consuming. A serving size of yogurt or milk is 1 cup or 8 ounces. Ice cream, while a delicious treat, should remain a treat. A serving size of ice cream is the size of a baseball or approximately 1 cup, loosely packed.

One of the tricks that I find helpful for my clients is to use smaller plates and bowls. This will make it seem that you are eating more than you really are. Your plate should be divided by 1/4 protein, 1/2 vegetables; or 1/4 protein, 1/4 vegetables and 1/4 grain or pasta.

Read those nutrition labels! Be a savvy shopper and understand exactly how much you are eating. Never sit down with a bag of chips and perform the act of mindless eating. Most people do not pay attention to how much they are actually eating, especially if they are distracted. Next time you reach for a bag of potato chips or pretzels, take a moment to read the nutrition label. If the bag contains 12 servings, and 1/2 of the bag is eaten after your snack, then you have just had six servings! Try to cook fresh whenever possible and portion meals out for a few days or even a week. If you do eat out, ask for a to-go box and place at least 1/2 to 3/4 of your meal in it right way to prevent yourself from over-eating.

Proper portioning takes some thought and preparation. Getting in the habit of being conscious of how much you are eating will become the norm once you realize what a true serving size is of the foods and drinks you enjoy each day.

Sharon Wortham ~ Personal Trainer/Nutrition Coach

Custom Made Fitness, LLC educates individuals on exercise, nutrition and how to make positive lifestyle changes in a safe, comfortable environment. We take a whole body approach to getting our clients healthy and in the shape they wish to be in.