Food portion sizes have gone up drastically in the past few decades. Americans now eat 100 pounds more food per year, per person than we did back then. Our bodies just don’t require that amount of extra stored energy per meal or snack (which ultimately gets turned into fat on your body).
Even if you’re eating an organic grilled range free humane certified piece of chicken breast, if it’s too large a portion it’s just going to get stored as fat. C’mon, we’re not running from Saber Toothed tigers anymore or walking a hundred miles every day, searching for food sources. We’re usually stuck in traffic, or lying on the couch, flipping through our 500 cable or satellite channels on our TV’s, and/or sitting in front of a computer screen with internet paralysis. Folks, we act like we’re pigs at a trough when food is around; we have to remember that food is simply fuel for our bodies and minds. When you are getting ready to eat, you gotta ask yourself, “Why am I eating this meal?” Is it to provide energy for your work day ahead? Is it to recover after a tough workout? Is it so you have antioxidants to fight off free radicals? Is it for the fiber to help clear out the cholesterol in your body? Whatever the case, each meal and snack you eat should have meaning attached to it. If you’re constantly over-eating and over-indulging, try these tips:
* When you are hungry, wait 10 minutes before eating and then chew your food slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your mind to tell your stomach you are full.
* Drink a glass of water before eating to make you feel fuller.
* Eat foods that are less calorie-dense (i.e. fruits, vegetables).
* Don’t eat 1/4 of whatever is on your plate. “Save that for the Devil,” as they say.
* Don’t keep junk food in the house/apartment. This is a rule that I live by. Most cravings aren’t strong enough to make you get in the car and drive down to the store to pick up some junk food. So, if it’s not in the house/apartment, then you won’t have it. And, by George, amazingly, you’ll be thinner and leaner in no time!
In regards to portions, a very simple and easy way to stay on track with your food portions is by using the “eyeball method” to compare proper portion sizes to something that you are familiar with, like a computer mouse or a set of dice. Familiarize yourself with these and for the rest of your life you’ll never have to guess again:
3 ounces of meat: deck of cards or palm of your hand without your fingers
Breads, cereals, rice and pasta
An average bagel: a hockey puck
A medium potato: a computer mouse
1 cup of rice or pasta: size of your fist
1 cup dried cereal: a large handful
1-1/2 ounces natural cheese: 4 dice
Fats, Oils and Sweets
1/2 cup of ice cream: a tennis ball
1 teaspoon butter, salad dressing, peanut butter or mayonnaise: one die (dice)
FYI: one tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1 medium fruit: a tennis ball
1 cup of fruit: a baseball
1/2 cup chopped fruit: 15 marbles
1 cup lettuce: 4 leaves
1 cup vegetables (chopped): a fist
1.2 cup vegetables (chopped): light bulb
So be wise and watch your portion size!
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach