One of the key components in maintaining a healthy weight is practicing portion control, and understanding how to eyeball servings of different types of foods. Even if you eat the most nutritious diet, if you consume too many calories, the body will gain weight and become more susceptible to preventable dietary diseases. To clarify the differences between portion sizes and servings, I will elaborate with a clarification and an example.
A portion consists of the amount of food that is physically on your plate and a serving is a fixed amount of foodstuff, such as a cup or tablespoon. For example, a serving size for a bagel is 4-oz (1/4 of the bagel), but the portion you eat is four times that size. Therefore, if portion control gets out of check, you may be jeopardizing your health without noticing it. Here are some straight forward suggestions to keeping your portions in check.
Use visual cues. The use of a scale to measure out food is daunting and time consuming; however, if you can compare the fare to a tangible object or familiar article you can better grasp how many calories consumed in one meal. For example, a serving of raw vegetables is about the size of a baseball, 3-oz of meat is proportional to a deck of cards, one serving of fruit is dimensional to a tennis ball, a serving of cheese the size of a 9-volt battery, and a half cup of cooked whole grains compares to the size of a hockey puck.
Use meat as a side dish. Use healthy grains and vegetables as the main course of the meal, and meat as an accompany to your dinner or lunch. This keeps fat and calories low and the vitamin and mineral content high.
Separate leftovers into separate containers. When putting away your leftovers separate them into single servings to take to lunch the next day or for the following nights dinner. This way you limit your calories with out having to think too much about it.
Portion out snacks in zip-locks or reusable containers. As the Pringles campaign reminds us, “You can’t eat just one.” It is quite difficult to devour just one portion of your favorite snack when stuffing handfuls of it into your mouth straight from the bag. Therefore, dividing your treats into pre-measured plastic baggies or reusable containers makes it much easier to stick to a healthy diet without going over your personal calorie budget.
It will take disciple and time to become better at eyeballing serving sizes and controlling portions. But practice makes perfect and over time rationing the amount of food you consume will lay the foundation for a healthy long life.