By JACLYN “JACKIE” FRANKS, MPH
HHS Extension Educator, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Kosciusko County
WARSAW — It’s probably not a news flash that we eat too much. Anyone that eats at restaurants has probably noticed that food portions have gotten larger and restaurants offer some super-size portions that are enough for at least two people.
With the increase in portion sizes also comes an increase in our waistlines and body weight. The amount you eat or drink plays an important role in your energy balance and you are probably eating more than you realize.
In fact, a burger and fries at a sit-down restaurant can have as many calories as we should be eating in an entire day, along with almost 100 grams of fat, three times the recommended daily amount of sodium, and the carb equivalent of 10 slices of bread. Eating smaller portion sizes will allow you to still enjoy your food, but also eat less and maintain a healthy weight.
Getting started on smaller portions:
- Figure out how big your portions really are. Try using a measuring cup to see how much you are really eating each day. Once you get the hang of measuring your favorite foods, you will be able to estimate portion sizes better.
- Read the nutrition facts labels on your foods to see what a portion size is considered for that food.
- Purchase individual portions of snacks such as popcorn and nuts, so you are not tempted to eat more than one portion.
- Pay attention to your feelings of hunger and stop eating when you are satisfied, not full. It can take 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full.
- Use a smaller plate, bowl or glass. One cup of food on a small plate looks like more than the same cup of food on a large plate.
- Think about portion sizes when you are eating out. Order a smaller size option or put half of your plate in a to-go box before you even start eating.
- Keep your stress in check. Some people tend to overeat when they are stressed or upset. Instead of eating away these emotions, try walking or keep some healthy pre-portioned snacks on hand.
Portion size and eating right is the key to staying at a healthy weight and balancing the energy coming into your body (from food) with the energy you are burning (from exercise).