Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Becoming a Portion Pro


This morning, I want to give you the meeting summary from my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Practicing Portion Control
Easy ways to size up healthy servings.
Article By: Leslie Fink, M.S., R.D.

You go out for dinner and order whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and a side of grilled veggies. The pasta is so plentiful that it's falling off the plate. Yes, your meal is nutritious. But can too much of a good thing be not so good? Absolutely.

How super is super size?

In the era of the super sized meal it's often hard to recognize normal portion sizes. Giant bottles of soda, extra-large bags of chips and king-size candy bars are part of our everyday eating landscape. But unfortunately, as our portion sizes get larger, so do our waistlines. And bigger packages can also sabotage portion control.

Research from the University of Illinois shows that people may tend to eat more food when it's served in larger containers. When movie-goers were given the same amount of popcorn in containers of two different sizes, the people given the larger tubs ate 44 percent more. The lesson here is to use a smaller plate at dinner!

Sizing things up
To keep portions in perspective, you need tools to help you navigate through bulked-up servings. It's wise to weigh things to get an accurate idea of how big portions should be, but that's not feasible when you're on the go. Relating measurements to common objects and teaching yourself to recognize appropriate serving sizes will be a great step toward achieving your weight-loss goals. For example, you can use your hand to gauge healthy portions.

• Your fist is about the same size as one cup of fruit or pasta
• Your thumb (tip to base) is the size of one ounce of meat or cheese
• Your palm (minus fingers) equals three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
• Your cupped hand equals one to two ounces of nuts or pretzels

Putting it into action
Once you have serving sizes committed to memory, you'll be ready to fit them into your eating plan.

• Limit servings of high-fat foods such as fatty meats and fried foods
• Buy single-servings of some foods, such as 1-ounce bags of chips or 1/2-cup servings of ice cream
• Remember that servings of most vegetables are extremely low in fat and calories. Bell peppers and button mushrooms just might become your new best buddies!

Try these other portion-control tips:
1. Don't leave a half-eaten birthday cake sitting on your kitchen counter. Wrap up cake and cookies and send them home with your guests.

2. Doggie-bag it at restaurants. Their portions can sometimes be extra large. Ask that half of your meal be wrapped up to take home.

3. Consider ordering kiddie-sized meals at fast-food restaurants. You may have to make up a lie about a child waiting for you in the car but it's a small price to pay for "built-in" portion control.

4. Seek out appetizers and side dishes at restaurants that serve gargantuan entrees. Order two of the smaller dishes for a more reasonably sized meal.

5. Minimize bargain temptations. If you buy big tubs or bags of snack foods to save money, store them on a high shelf so they're not within arm's reach. Or, immediately divide them into single serve portions and stash them away in a hard-to-reach place.

6. Learn to eyeball portion sizes, so it becomes second nature. Three ounces of chicken, for instance, equals the size of a deck of cards or your palm.

7. Make your own "frozen" dinners. When recipes yield extra servings, store the leftovers in single serve containers for portion-controlled meals later on, or lunch at work.

8. Retire your serving platters. If half a tray of lasagna stares you in the face while you eat dinner, you may be more likely to reach for seconds. Instead, serve yourself a portion and put the rest away. You can always go back for more, but this way, you may be less likely to.

9. Stock up on smaller plates. A half-empty 10-inch dinner plate spells deprivation; a salad plate filled to the edge seems like a huge meal.

10. Eat slowly! Research suggests that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to know that it's full. If you gobble down your food, seconds will be much more tempting.

To read more blog post about Portion Control, please click here.

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