Portion sizes have gotten so large that it’s sometimes difficult to know what a proper portion size really is.
The amount of food they serve at many restaurants can warp our sense of what a proper serving size is. It might not be as big of a problem if you make a habit of taking half of your meal home to eat the next day, but so often, that isn’t the case.
How many times did you hear you should clean your plate when you were growing up? And when there’s food in front of you, you might feel that you should eat it all, even when you feel full.
When you get used to these big servings, you might mimic them when you’re at home. Going in for seconds and thirds or piling your large plates and bowls with food can lead to overeating.
And don’t get me started on buffets. To get your money’s worth, multiple trips are expected.
You might not always have measuring cups around, but you don’t need them when you always have your hand.
A Handy Guide
To keep your portion sizes in check, you just have to look to your hand. You might have heard that a meat, fish and poultry portion should be the size of your palm (3 oz.). Are you thinking of the size of the meat you usually put on your plate and thinking the size of your palm isn’t enough?
This could be shocking. Stay with me, here.
When you make a fist, that is about the amount of a serving size for food like fruit, starches, grains, and veggies (1 cup). A handful (1–2 oz.) is good for nuts, the tip of your thumb (1 tsp.) is the amount for sugar, cooking oil, and butter, and your whole thumb (1 oz.) for nut butters and cheese.
What about snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, and popcorn? Two handfuls (2 oz.)—that’s a lot less than an entire bag in one sitting.
This can be easier to follow at home than when eating out, but you can keep this in mind when you’re out at restaurants as well.
How to Deal with Restaurant Portions
When you are presented with significantly larger portion sizes on your large plate, it’s helpful to plan to ask for a doggy bag and take the excess home, or choose differently. Make a point of ordering the smaller sizes if they’re available, appetizers instead of entrees, or share with your dining companion.
Sometimes your food is so good, you want to eat it all in one sitting, but you can help prevent that by:
• putting your fork down between bites
• chewing each bite more thoroughly
• being more mindful
• taking the time to really savour your food
When you’re stumped by how much you should eat at a meal, look no further than the end of your arm. It’s a portable guide that can help you stay on track in a world of huge portion sizes.
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