We're all guilty of occasionally gorging ourselves on the finer things in life. Whether you've recently overindulged in too many sweet treats or a bag of Doritos' newest flavor of chips, it's not too late to get yourself back on track! One of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle is portion control. In theory, it is a simple concept: watch what you eat. But there is actually a whole world of knowledge regarding the importance of portion control, and why it is essential for you and your family. If you are looking to shave off those last few pounds, maintain your weight, or just stick to a nutritious lifestyle, then keep scrolling to learn more about portion control!
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Portion control is all about understanding how much a serving size of food truly is, and how many calories exist within that amount. Since our weight is heavily regulated by our daily caloric intake, portion control is essential to weight loss and weight management. Unfortunately, unless you always prepare your own food, it is nearly impossible to know exactly what goes into all of your meals. Think about it: when we head to our favorite restaurant with the family, our portions are defined by what the chef puts on our plates. We have no idea whether the food meets the USDA's Meal Pattern Requirements. We have no clue how many grams of fat, carbs, protein, or in most cases, calories lurk behind that mouthwatering plate in front of us. Our melting-pot culture places emphasis on everything but portion control.
Larger portions obviously contain more calories, but it is often a challenge for us to determine how much is too much when we are presented with a large plate of food. We frequently lose track of how much we eat if we are not in charge of regulating the amount of food we consume. This can result in eating about 100-200 calories more than necessary per meal, which eventually can lead to unwanted weight gain. Oversized portions are nearly impossible to avoid in our world of value packs, Big Gulp sodas, and buy-one-get-one-free coupons. Over-buying, over-ordering, and over-eating are pretty much ingrained into our brains!
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So what can you do? Well, we don't want you to be constantly haunted by food scales and tape measures every time you sit down to eat, but there are several simple tricks to help you watch your portion sizes. One of the easiest ways to watch your intake is to use smaller dishes. Restaurants typically use plates that are no smaller than 12-14 inches in diameter. Slap a piece of chicken on that, and it looks pretty lonely! But if you swap out such a large plate for one that is just a bit smaller - say, 10 inches - you will be shocked by how filling your chicken suddenly appears! Also, make sure you are reading those food labels! Companies often manage to slip in extra sugar and fat behind your back, so keep an eye out for those calorie-boosting ingredients. Know your serving sizes. If you're at a restaurant and are unable to look at the food labels, you should be able to eyeball what a correct portion would look like. Here's a chart that will give you a good idea of what a portion size of most foods looks like:
You should also try avoiding family-style serving at dinners. This encourages second (or even third) helpings, even when you're full. By stowing the food back in the kitchen or on the stove, you'll be less likely to overindulge.
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It may seem like everyone is out to get you when it comes to portion control, but we've got your back! Being informed and fully aware of how much you should eat will go a long way in helping you stay on track. For more information on portion control and why it matters, check out our sources below: