Over the past 20 years, Americans have witnessed an increase in portion sizes as we have watched our waistlines bulge. Restaurant meals, whether at fast food chains or fancy restaurants, have gotten larger as we equate the quality of the restaurant with getting more food for our money. Restaurant meals aren’t the only culprit; packages containing snack foods and soft drinks are getting larger and now contain multiple servings per package. This has made it more difficult for people to know what a normal serving size is and even more difficult to eat only that amount.
Here are some guidelines for the most confused serving sizes:
- 2 tablespoons of nut butter = the size of a ping-pong ball
- 3 ounces of cooked meat = the size of a palm or deck of cards
- 3 ounces of grilled fish = the size of a checkbook
- 1 ounce of nuts = the size of one handful or 2 shot glasses
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, I cite two studies, one in relation to meal size and one in relation to snack consumption, that both showed Americans have a tendency to eat more when offered. You can avoid overeating due to “portion distortion” in many ways. One of the best tips you can follow is learning to read food labels to determine the actual serving size and the number of servings per package. What you read might surprise you. It also goes back to the topic of conscious eating, which I shared in last week’s issue; instead of being distracted when you eat, be aware of where you are, what you’re eating, and how you’re feeling.
Here are some strategies for controlling your calorie intake with smaller portions:
- At restaurants, ask for the meal to be divided in half, plating half of it and putting the rest into a doggie bag to take home.
- At home, serve reasonable portions of food on individual plates, and keep the rest of the food in the kitchen and off the table. Also serve food on smaller salad plates.
- If eating in front of the television, put a reasonable portion of food into a bowl and leave the rest in the kitchen. An even better strategy is to restrict the food you eat in front of the TV.
- Because you tend to consume food more easily when you have easy access to it, keep healthy options like high-fiber fruits and nuts out in front.