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Portion Size Counts

Confusion between “servings” and “portions” makes eating the right amount of food difficult, particularly given the super-sizing trend. Potato chips bags, for example, contain 60 percent on average more than 20 years ago, while soft drinks are generally 50 percent larger.

Serving sizes are standardized amounts of food with specific calorie and nutrient contents. Portions, on the other hand, are how much we choose to eat. To make sure you aren’t overeating, you must know the size of a serving. The following everyday approximations should help.

Approximate Single-Serving Sizes

Grilled fish Personal checkbook
Potato Computer mouse
Meat serving Deck of cards
Hard cheese Four dice
Peanut butter Tip of your thumb
Cup of fruit Baseball
Apple/Orange Tennis ball

Once we see how small servings are, most of us realize our portions are way too big. A typical serving of steak at a restaurant, for example, is the size of four decks of cards, the equivalent of four servings. Obviously, choosing to eat wisely means giving importance both to what and to how much we eat.

Portion-Proof Your Environment

At home

  • Don’t eat directly out of a package or container. Always portion it out first.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls, forks and spoons for your meals and snacks.
  • Keep the serving dish in the kitchen. You will be less likely to serve yourself additional portions if the food is in another room rather than at the table right in front of you.

At restaurants

  • Order an appetizer as an entrée or split an entrée with your dining partner
  • Portions at restaurants are often very large. When the food arrives, decide how much you will eat and only eat that amount.
  • Ask the waiter to put half of what you ordered into a ‘doggie bag’ before the food is brought to the table. You’ll be less tempted and you’ll get two meals for the price of one!

At work

  • Schedule meals and snacks into your calendar so you don’t get so busy that you go hours without eating, which may put you at risk for overeating when you finally find time to eat.
  • Store midday snacks in your workplace kitchen rather than directly in your office. This will reduce the likelihood of “desktop dining” when you aren’t really hungry.
  • Always bring an afternoon snack with you to work to help refuel when that 4:00 p.m. slump hits. That way, you won’t be tempted by unhealthy options.

Here are some great Mindful Eating Tips


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