Six Easy Ways to Eat Less — Without Even Noticing!
In the last several decades, portions in the US have become larger and larger. It’s no coincidence that as portions have grown, so have waistlines. In the 1960s, 45% of Americans were overweight or obese. Today that number is nearing 70%! So when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, what you eat matters, but so does the quantity of what you eat.
Studies show that the more food put in front of people, the more they eat. Twenty years ago, a typical cheeseburger had 330 calories; today, it’s 590. The French fries you ordered on the side 20 years ago were a 2.4-ounce handful totaling 210 calories; today the standard order is a heaping 6.9 ounces, packing 610 calories.
We live in a culture that keeps putting more and more food on our plates. But here’s the good news: a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who shrank their portions by 25% slashed 250 calories a day — enough to help them lose a half-pound a week while still feeling full. So in addition to what you eat, pay attention to portion size.
Here are six ways you can shrink portions without feeling hungry!
1. Get to Know A Portion
One of the best ways to begin to control portions is to get familiar with what a portion should be. Here’s list of common foods and 1 serving equivalents.
What Does 1 Serving Look Like?
1 cup of cereal flakes = fist
1 pancake = compact disc
1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or potato = 1/2 baseball
1 slice of bread = cassette tape
1 piece of cornbread = bar of soap
Vegetables and Fruit:
1 cup of salad greens = baseball
1 baked potato = fist
1 medium fruit = baseball
1/2 cup of fresh fruit = 1/2 baseball
1/4 cup of raisins = large egg
Dairy and Cheese:
1 1/2 oz. cheese = 4 stacked dice or 2 cheese slices
1/2 cup of ice cream = 1/2 baseball
Fats?1 tsp. margarine or spreads = 1 dice
Meat and Alternatives:
3 oz. meat, fish or poultry = deck of cards
3 oz. grilled/baked fish = checkbook
2 Tbsp. peanut butter = ping pong ball
2. Before Eating, Divide The Plate
Here’s a simple rule to portion a plate properly: Divide it in half. Automatically fill one side with fruits or vegetables, leaving the rest for equal parts protein and starch. This way, you begin to see what a properly balanced meal looks like. Spaghetti and meatballs? Steak and potatoes? They’re only half a meal, incomplete without fruits and vegetables.
3. Turn Off The Television, Computer, and other Distracting Gadgets
TV, computers, and other electronic gadgets distract you from how much you’re eating. The more you watch tv or lock into your computer screen, the more you’re likely to eat. In a study comparing how much popcorn viewers ate during either a half-hour show or an hour-long show, those who watched more television ate 28 percent more popcorn.
4. Set a Skinny Table
Did you know the way you set your table can influence how many calories you eat?
That’s right, there are some simple ways you can change your home environment to reduce the calories you eat. In fact research shows that going from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate can reduce how much you eat by about 22%. Just using a smaller plate can fool your brain into thinking you are satisfied on fewer calories!
The same is true for smaller bowls and spoons. Smaller servings spoons were found to result in a 14% decrease in food intake, while smaller bowls led to a whopping 50% decrease in eating.
Studies also found that people eat food that’s on a table much more frequently than food that’s off the table. That may seem obvious, but so many of us leave food out on the table making second and third helping much more likely. In one study men ate 29% more food when a serving dish was on the table vs. the counter. Women ate about 10% more when the serving dish was on the table. So fill your plate at the counter, then bring it to the dining table. Leave the serving dish off the table.
6.Dining Out? Doggie-Bag It!
Some of the biggest portion pitfalls happen when dining out. Restaurants supersize everything from salads to sundaes. If you get a full portion size, doggie bag half your entre before you start eating.
Other ways to cut calories when you’re out and about:
* Ask about half portions or order from the child’s menu.
* Share your food with your companion.
* Eat a healthy appetizer and soup or salad instead of an entree.
Katherine Brooking, MS, RD
Co-Founder, Appetite for Health