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Portion Control- Are You Eating Reasonable Sized Portions?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services, obesity is an epidemic in this country, among both adults and children. And it's difficult to make changes; we live in an environment that encourages overeating. Portions have become much larger over the past couple of decades, and we're bombarded with images of high-calorie, low nutrient food many times a day. In fact, it's hard to avoid images of food; even on a drive in the country you're likely to encounter a billboard with a picture of a juicy hamburger. When was the last time you saw a billboard with images of beautiful ripe apples, or a colorful three-bean salad?

We have to be deliberate and purposeful if we want to enjoy a healthy diet. One way to keep the calories down without too much self-denial is portion control. Learn to "size up" your food. Exactly how much is a "serving" of your favorite cereal? How many cups of popcorn in a serving? Learn to check the packaging to see what a serving really is.

The next time you reach for your favorite snack food, check the package and measure out a single serving. You may be surprised to find out you've been consuming not one, but several servings at a time. Learn what controlled servings of your favorite foods look like-and keep measuring until you can really tell how much is too much. Here are some typical serving sizes:

  • Dairy products: one cup of lowfat or nonfat milk or yogurt
  • Lean meat, poultry, or fish: 2-3 ounces
  • Raw, leafy vegetables: 1 cup
  • Other cooked or chopped vegetables: 1/2 cup
  • Fresh fruit: 1 medium orange, banana, or apple
  • Canned fruit: 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit (in natural juice)
  • Fruit juice: 3/4 cup
  • Bread: 1 regular slice
  • Dry cereal: 1 ounce
  • Cooked cereal, pasta, or rice: 1/2 cup
  • Peanut, or other nut butter: 2 tablespoons

    Following are some tips to give your willpower a helping hand:

  • Order smaller portions in restaurants. Many people who have no problem eating healthy portions at home overeat in restaurants because the portions are so large. But many restaurants serve half portions, or lunch-size portions at dinner. Don't be embarrassed to ask. You'll save calories and cash.
  • Don't upsize or super-size anything, especially fast food. Fast food portions have more than doubled over the last twenty-five years. Don't be tempted by a "bargain." Avoid package deals; instead, order a sandwich-broiled chicken is good; hold the mayo-and a side salad.
  • Order kids meals, where you can. Some restaurants will let you order them if you tell them you're dieting, and you can always order them in fast food restaurants. Kids meal portions are what used to be grown up portions (before the mega craze began).
  • Buy small or single-serving quantities when possible. Don't buy the extra-large bag of pretzels; buy the single serving size, one bag at a time.
  • Avoid all-you-can-eat situations. Buffets and those "unlimited pasta on Tuesdays" meals make it difficult, if not impossible, to practice portion control.

    Quick reference: 3 ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards; 1 ounce of meat is the size of a matchbook; 1 cup of potatoes, rice or pasta is the size of a tennis ball.


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