Portion Sizes: How to Keep Them Under Control
by Bob Wright, Director of Education, Hilton Head Health
Orson Wells once said, “My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for 4… unless there were 3 other people.” Little did he know how relevant his quote would become. Studies suggest that we are consuming 200 to 400 more calories per day than 20 years ago. The result is that we have reached the highest rates of obesity in history. Managing portions may be the most important thing you can do to manage your weight. Changes in our “food environment” such as large portions in restaurants, easy access to food, the increased size of plates, glasses, and bowls as well as bigger bags and boxes we buy food in all contribute to us losing control over what reasonable portions should look like.
Here’s 10 ways to control portions at home and at restaurants:
- Pay attention while eating. Focus on eating slowly and mindfully. Mindful eaters enjoy their food more and are satisfied on smaller portions.
- Invest in a new set of smaller dishes. Studies show that by having smaller plates you will serve your self less and not even know it.
- Buy snacks and treats in smaller containers. We tend to eat until the box or bag is empty, regardless of the size of the container.
- When reading labels, pay particular attention to the serving size. If you just look at calories, fat, sugar, sodium etc., without looking at serving size you can get far more than you bargained for.
- Eat your calories, don’t drink them. Caloric soft drinks, sweet tea and juices add up. So, opt for an orange rather than the orange juice
AT A RESTAURANT:
- Split entrees and desserts with your partner or friend.
- Ask that all sauces and dressing be brought on the side. That puts you in control of the quantity.
- Look on the menu for “small” or petite” portions.
- Ask for “half to go”. The server brings half of the meal to the table, and boxes the other half for you to take home.
- Have a healthy snack; a piece of fruit, small salad etc. an hour or so before you go out. It will take the edge off your hunger and make it easier to manage portions.