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Healthy eating and exercise for life

Preventing Portion Distortion

Watching what you eat is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle but what about how much you eat?  As portions sizes have expanded through the years, so have our waistlines.  Many people are unsure what a correct portion of food looks like.
Portion distortion is a common problem and often, people are taking in more calories than they realize.  A few extra calories a day may not seem like a big deal but 100 calories each day can lead to a 10-pound weight gain over the course of year.  (Conversely, cutting 100 calories a day for a year can also result in a 10-pound weight loss!)

In many cases, portion sizes are double what they were in the 1950s.  In order to practice portion control, it may help to visualize what the correct portions of food are:

• 3 ounces of meat, fish or chicken = deck of cards
• ½ cup of rice = tennis ball
• 1 cup of pasta = medium-sized fist
• 1 medium-sized piece of fruit = tennis ball 
• ½ cup of cooked vegetables = yo-yo
• 1 ounce of cheese = pair of dice
• 1 muffin = size of a large egg
• 2 tablespoons of peanut butter = a golf ball

Now that you’ve got an idea of more accurate portion sizes, here are some tips to help you from falling for portion distortion:

Bag it up

If you’re at a restaurant, ask the waiter to put half of your entrée in a doggie bag before bringing it to the table.  That way you can be sure you will only eat half, which is usually more than enough.  Plus you’ll have lunch tomorrow! 

Pre-pack your snack

Pre-portioning your snacks is a simple way to control calories and portion sizes.  If you buy large bags of pretzels, crackers or other foods that are easy to munch on, put single servings in plastic bags.  Many companies now offer 100-calorie packages of your favorite snacks to help you control your portions.  Pre-portioned snacks are great when you’re on the go and you won’t have to worry about mindless munching. 

Share with a friend

Meals at restaurants are often large enough to share with a friend.  You could split an entrée or share a couple of appetizers with your companion.  If you’re in the mood for dessert, get one dessert and a couple of spoons.

Downsize Your Plate

Whether you’re at home or at a restaurant, using a smaller plate is an effective way to control portion sizes.  You’re plate will look full (so you won’t feel deprived) but you’ll be eating less. 

Slow Down

If you tend to go back for seconds, try waiting 15 minutes after the first helping.  You may realize you don’t even want the second helping after all.  By eating more slowly, you can enjoy the different flavors of the meal and allow yourself time to feel full.  If you wait 15 minutes and you’re still hungry, then can go back for a small portion – and opt for more fruits and veggies as opposed to other items.