How much is too much?
This question always comes up especially when I am speaking to a patient about portion sizes. I find that most people don’t realize that they are actually eating more than the recommended amount for their body size. While not everyone has the time to weigh their food or count calories, there are actually some smart techniques to monitor and control your food intake.
You don’t need special equipment or tools to measure your food, especially if you are not eating at home. Instead, you can actually use your hands as a guide for the recommended serving sizes!
If you are eating protein such as meat, eggs, and beans – the serving should be roughly equal the size of your palm.
If you are eating carbs such as grains, the amount should be enough to fill your cupped hands. Vegetable should be the size of your fist while a serving of fat like butter should be the size of your thumb.
These guidelines may change depending on your age, size, gender, and health condition – or if you are trying to lose weight and has a specialized diet. Otherwise, this is a good guide to keep your portions in check.
Half or Quarter Serving
When you order a burger, a pizza or any meal at a restaurant that has quite huge servings, you might think that you are required to finish the meal. However, let me tell you that, NO, you can actually cut it in haldf or maybe in thirds or quarters) and bag the rest to take away.
You’ll be surprised that even you’re eating only half of the serving, you are already going to get satisfied! Not only does this save you calories, this also saves you money too.
Checkbooks and Baseball
Another way to measure portion sizes is to use everyday objects to estimate a serving. Instead of using a standard cup or a weighing scale, comparing the sizes of your food to these items is a great way to keep your portions in check.
- baseball = 1 cup of starch (rice, pasta, potatoes)
- deck of cards = 3-4 ounces of poultry or meat
- checkbook = 4 ounces white fish
- shot glass = 2 tablespoons oil or salad dressing
- package of dental floss = 1 ounce of a treat: a cookie or piece of chocolate
Smaller Plates and Tools
Some people developed a habit of finishing everything in their plates. This makes it harder to control portion sizes because they are used to eating a plateful in order to feel full. If you are one of these people, there is one trick that you can do if you are in your home.
All you need to do is get yourself smaller plates and spoons. This is because the larger your plate is, the tendency is for you to serve yourself more.
In fact a study by Cornell University Researchers found that when people were given a larger bowl, they served themselves 3% more without even noticing. A large serving spoon also increased their serving by a 14.5%. The alarming thing was that the study used nutrition experts as their subjects, so what more for regular people?
So when you are trying to control your portions, especially if you’re indulging a dessert, use a small platter and a teaspoon. While the opposite can also be true if you’re trying to eat more salads and vegetables try using a large plate!