We've all heard the portion control and serving size, but what do they really mean. Here's an easy break down, a portion is the amount you serve yourself, and a serving size is the amount of food that the nutritional facts are based on.
Example: Make your self a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich and that's the portion, however, it has 2 servings of bread, 1-2 servings of bacon, 1 servings of vegetables and if you add mayo there is anywhere from 1-2 servings of your fats and oils for the day. A lot of snack sized packs still contain 2-3 servings per container. This can be very misleading if you don't read the nutritional facts and labels.
Many people get these portion and serving size confused. Even more people are poorly informed on what a serving size is for most items. One serving of hard cheese is about the size of 3-4 dice. A muffin should be about the size of a hockey puck, not the size of a large man's fist.
WebMd's Portion Sized Plate is an on-line tool that offers great visual comparisons to help you understand and better control your portion and serving sizes. Portion Size Plate allows you to pick from the main food groups and shows you what a portion of each item should look like next to an everyday household items such as light bulbs, check books and poker chips.
Educating yourself about what you are putting in your body is a very important first step towards a healthier and fitter you. Here's some tips and suggestions I gathered on how to help control your portion size:
1.Read the Nutritional Label on products. Get an idea on what a serving size is for the foods you consume on a regular basis and compare them to the portions you have been serving yourself.
2.Don't eat from the container. Look at the Nutritional facts and put a servings worth in a bowl. This will keep you from reaching back in to the bag and eating more then you intended.
3.Drink a large glass of water before dinner. This will help you feel fuller and you will eat less.
4.Try eating small snacks through out the day as opposed to large meals. This will help keep your energy from peaking and crashing through out that day. I try to keep my snacks between 100-300 calories.
5.Switch to smaller plates, bowls and cups. This will keep you from putting more on your plate then you should eat, it will also seem more visually appealing as the little plate will looker fuller with less food on it.
6.Snack packs can be helpful as long as you read the label. I suggest buying large or bulk sizes and portion out servings in to Ziplock bags. I love this tip. I am much more likely to keep eating out of a bag till it's gone, but would I go back and eat all 10 Ziplock bags full? I doubt it!
7.Consider splitting dessert at restaurants. Also another way to cut calories when eating out is to split an entrée or order an appetizer instead.
8.Don't super size your meal. You can cut 300 calories out of your meal by getting a small fry instead of the large. Ordering the small soda saves 150 calories.
9.Halve the amount of condiments you use or use healthier toppings. Just one tablespoon of mayo has a whopping 90 calories, all of them from fat! That's 15% of your fat right there. A serving of Dijon mustard is a mere 5 calories, and none from fat.
10.Eat slower. You will feel like you are eating more food then you are. It takes up to twenty minutes AFTER you stop eating. Wait a half an hour, then if you are still hungry eat a small second helping.
11.Beverages can rack up the calories. Sodas and alcoholic beverages are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, and we know carbs just break down into more sugar. One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to cut out these drinks. Drink water, or diet drinks if you want to cut some of the sugar and calories out.
12.Start your dinner with a healthy salad. This helps you fill up faster on more good foods and eat less of the heavier dinner courses. Just be cautious what you add to your salad. Do you remember how much a serving size of cheese is? One way I cut calories from my salads is using Wishbone salad spritzers. Each spray contains only one calorie so you can have a flavorful salad with out covering it in a fattening dressing.
13.Meat as a side dish. I'll admit this tip is new to me, but I like the idea. Many Americans center their meal around the meat portion of the meal making it much larger then it needs to be. Considering meet as a side dish may help lead to consuming less meat and hopefully, replace it with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
14.Order the kids meal. This is a great idea for two reasons: First the portions are much smaller and secondly, the meals are much cheaper. I know several people that order the kids meal for both these reasons.
15.When eating out, ask for a to go container and put half your food in the box immediately. Save the other half of your meal for lunch tomorrow. Most restaurants serve portions that are 2-3 times the serving size recommended.
Keep this list of suggestions in mind the next time you grab that snack from the cupboard, or serve dinner to the family. Even just implementing one or two of these ideas in your life could save you countless calories.