America is the fattest country in the world, and getting fatter. It’s no secret that portion sizes are increasing while nutritional content is decreasing. If you compare portion sizes and caloric content now versus just 20 years ago, you’ll see we’ve really lost our view of what a “normal” portion is. One serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards. One pancake should be the size of a CD. Portion sizes are so vital, they can be the difference between being overweight, obese or healthy.
So here are some tips to help get your portion sizes back in check:
1. Ask for a to-go container when you order. This is one technique you have likely heard of, but few of us actually have the willpower to do it. Simply ask for a to-go container when you order, and put half of your portion into the container. I also recommend tying a knot in a plastic bag so you aren’t tempted to “nibble.”
2. Don’t put the vat on the table. When serving food at home, portion the plates without bringing the whole casserole (or whatever) to the table. When faced with temptation (i.e. an entire pan of something delicious) staring at you just a fork’s length away, few will resist. Better yet, put the extra away before you sit down to eat.
3. Individually portion leftovers. This is my favorite “trick” when eating at home. It forces you to dictate portions when you’re not starving. Then, when you come home later in the week and you ARE starving, you’ll just warm up ONE container. Strangely, this is often less overwhelming to me than dishing it out of a larger container, and will keep you from spooning it directly out of the vat of food and into your mouth. Maybe it will even help you opt to eat in over takeout food?
4. Note serving sizes. Often we are tricked by “individual containers” that contain 1.5 servings. Or ridiculous serving sizes (I mean, who really eats .5 cups of ice cream at a time!?) Be sure with everything that you open, you note how much a serving size truly is. Dish out an appropriate size before you start eating, then sit down to eat it. (i.e. don’t take the entire bag of chips to the table.) Don’t eat standing. Don’t snack in front of the TV. Both make you less aware of what you are putting into your mouth.
Your challenge this week? Become aware of appropriate portion sizes. Set yourself up for success when eating out and eating at home, whether fresh cooked food, leftovers, or snacks. In the words of Rob Schneider, Youu can dooo iiiit!