Practicing Portion Control

Can too much of a good thing be, well, not so good? Absolutely.
Practicing Portion Control

In the era of the supersized 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 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: Use a smaller plate at dinner! And whenever possible, buy single-serving packs of the foods you're most likely to overindulge on, like chips or ice cream. (They may cost more, but in the long run, your health and weight-loss efforts are worth it!)

Sizing things up
To keep portions in perspective, you need a tool to help you navigate through bulked-up portions. Visualizing recommended serving sizes by relating them to common household objects is an easy and useful technique. By comparing food portions to things you already recognize, you should be able to eyeball a food item and guesstimate how large it is. Long gone are the days of carrying around a food scale. It's wise to weigh things occasionally to get an accurate idea of how big portions should be, but relating those measurements to common objects and teaching yourself to recognize them will be a great step toward achieving your weight-loss goals.

For example:

  • 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.

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