If you’d like to lose 10 pounds without dieting, the best thing you can do is perfect your portions. Get out your measuring cups, downsize your plates and bowls and get a food scale and I’m sure you’ll be at least 10 pounds lighter this time next year.
Portion distortion is one of the main reasons why so many Americans are struggling to lose or maintain a healthy weight. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, reported that Americans are eating, on average, 250 more calories than in the 80s, and those calories are primarily due to increases in portion sizes. Finding perfect portions of the foods and beverages you eat and drink is one of the most effective ways to trim excess calories from your diet without dieting.
Serving sizes of everything from fast food and beverages to cookies and cookbook recipes have steadily crept up since the 1970s. It’s so bad that when we see a typical plate, glass or restaurant portion from the 70s, we think it’s puny.
The problem with large portions is that we tend to eat what we’re served and disregard whether or not we are physiologically hungry or not. So, if you order a bagel an it’s 5 ounces (a typical size these days) that counts for 5 grain servings or almost all the grains you need in a day! Chances are, you’re cleaning your plate.
While it’s somewhat easier to manage portions when you’re cooking but when you’re eating out, it’s almost impossible. Portions served at most restaurants are for more than two people would need for a meal. A typical pasta dish will have about 3 cups of cooked pasta which is actually 6 servings! That’s all of your grains for the day in one dish.
A great way to manage your weight is to eat perfectly-sized portions. Use the guides below to help increase your awareness of the portions you typically serve yourself. If you find that they’re significantly more than what’s recommended, start scaling back. If you have a kitchen scale, get it out and weigh some of the foods that you know you’re overeating.
Some general ways to avoid portion distortion:
- A teaspoon of butter or margarine is roughly the same size as the tip of your thumb (to the first joint)
- Three ounces of meat is equal to a deck of cards
- One cup of pasta is about the size of a tennis ball
- A bagel should be the size of a hockey puck
- 1 1/2 ounces of cheese is the size of three dominoes
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter is roughly equivalent to ping-pong or golf ball
- A half cup of vegetables is the size of a light bulb
- 1 bowl of dry cereal or 1 piece of fruit should equal the size of a baseball
- 1 ounce of lunch meat should equal the size of a compact disk
- A bagel serving should equal the size of a hockey puck
- One baked potato should equal the size of a computer mouse
Answers: A=medium banana; B=1 cup vegetables; C=nuts; D= 3 ounce lean protein; E=small baked potato
Reference: Young LR, Nestle M.Reducing portion sizes to prevent obesity: a call to action. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Nov;43(5):565-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.07.024.
***This very helpful article was written and shared by:
Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., CSSD, Appetite for Health
Co-Author, 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin, 2013)