Selecting the right foods also means choosing portions that are proper serving sizes. The terms "portion" and "serving" are often used interchangeably, but they don't mean the same thing. A "portion" is the amount of food you choose to eat for meals or snacks (like a plateful of pasta or a handful of raisins). In comparison, a "serving" is the amount of food that experts recommend you eat (like 1 cup of milk or 1 ounce of bread). Servings are listed on a food's nutrition facts label too.
Portion sizes matter because they help people manage their weight. Understanding what an appropriate portion is may help you to make sure you are eating about the right amount. It can be challenging to eat an appropriate amount in particular instances, for instance at restaurants and at parties. In these cases, having an idea of what a proper portion of particular foods looks like may help you to ensure that you eat the right amount for you.
In America, things are done differently. If you grew up in American culture, it may seem normal to you but in most countries and cultures we are the anomaly. We can learn a lot from different cultures and their relationship with food. Other countries consume much smaller portions, while here in America, we suffer from obesity (leading cause of death), due to the larger portions we consume on a daily basis. Here in America, fruits and vegetables are more expensive, while processed foods are affordable, so the average American will go the affordable route, which isn’t the healthiest and can contribute to overeating and health issues.
When choosing your portions, try to make it as close as possible to these recommended serving sizes.
Grains: Aim for 6-11 servings each day. Choose whole grains whenever possible.
- Bread: 1 ounce (1 small slice, 1/2 bagel, 1/2 bun), or about the size of an index card
- Cooked Grains: 1/2 cup cooked oats, rice or pasta, or about the size of a billiard ball
- Dry cereal: 1/2 cup flakes, puffed rice or shredded wheat, or about the size of a billiard ball
Fruits and Vegetables: Aim for 5-9 total servings each day. Choose fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible.
- Raw fruit: 1/2 cup raw, canned or frozen fruit, or about the size of billiard ball
- Dried fruit: 1/4 cup raisins, prunes or apricots, or about the size of an egg
- Juice: 6 oz 100% fruit or vegetable juice, or about the size of a hockey puck
- Raw vegetables: 1 cup leafy greens, baby carrots or about the size of a baseball
- Cooked vegetables: 1/2 cup cooked broccoli, potatoes, or about the size of a billiard ball
Meat and Beans: Aim for 2-3 servings each day. Choose lean meats and plant proteins whenever possible.
- Meat: 2-3 oz cooked beef, poultry, fish, or about the size of a deck of cards
- Beans: 1/2 cup cooked beans, split peas or legumes, or about the size of a billiard ball
- Nuts & Seeds: 2 tbsp nuts, seeds or nut butters, or about the size of a ping pong ball
Fats & Oils: Eat fats and oils sparingly and in small portions. Choose heart-healthy fats whenever possible.
- Fat & Oil: 1 tsp butter, margarine or oil, or about the size of one die
Calcium: Aim for 2-3 servings of calcium-rich foods each day. Choose low- or non-fat products whenever possible.
Here are some ways to cut portions:
1. START WITH A GLASS OF WATER.
Adequate water intake is essential for all your body's functions, and the more you drink, the easier it is to cut back on calories (without going hungry) and lose weight.
2. EATING ON A SCHEDULE.
Eating meals and snacks at the same time each day can make it easier to eat healthy portions. Enjoying food at regularly spaced times helps ensure your body always has the fuel it needs. That way, you’ll never feel famished, which can push you to overindulge.
3. DON’T SUPER- SIZE IT.
Enormous portions in restaurants can skew our impression of how much food we really need. When you’re served a super-sized portion, don’t feel like you need to eat all of it. Split the meal with someone else. Or immediately ask for a take-home box so you can pack up part of the meal and just eat what’s left on your plate.
4. USE PORTION CONTROL DISHWARE.
Pick out smaller plates, bowls, cups, and glassware in your kitchen and measure what they hold. You might find that a bowl you thought held 8 ounces of soup actually holds 16, meaning you’ve been eating twice what you planned.
Eat when hungry and stop when satisfied or comfortably full. Try to gauge when you are 80 percent full and stop there. There will be more food at the next meal or snack. Stay positive, and focus on eating well and being active.
A serial entrepreneur and former financial advisor, Jean Titus discovered his purpose and passion through the heartache of losing loved ones far too early. He lives his mantra – “We rise by lifting others” – daily as a life coach and Personal Trainer. Jean brings a simplicity and practicality to his work, helping clients draw on their strengths to realize the one thing money can’t buy – good health and wellness. Follow him on Instagram and his fitness journey!