Fitness Friday - tip #4 portion sizes

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here is another installment of tips and tricks to losing weight and keeping it off, the healthy and long term way Remember the previous weeks tips:
and this weeks tip is #4 PORTION SIZES

One of the things that sends any dieter into a frenzy is the idea of weighing and measuring food. Unfortunately this is something that is often necessary for the average person returning to a healthy lifestyle as our Western diet is totally out of whack with portion sizes! For instance a portion of pasta is 3/4 cup or grams. A serving of animal protein should be 4oz or the size of a deck of cards. A serving size of potato or other vegetables is the size of your fist. Think about all that for a second. We see quarter pounders all the time (4oz) but how many times do we see those quarter pounder burgers with bacon AND cheese? That's two-three servings of protein right there! Never mind those 12-16oz steaks, humongous baked potatoes and potato salad that covers half your plate.The Western diet has portion distortion, and it's adding to the obesity epidemic with it's all you can eat buffets, and bottomless drinks.

Conversely the Western diet has the opposite problem when it comes to vegetables. Portion sizes are scant, and usually consist of peas or side salad (iceberg lettuce with 3 slices of cucumber and a cherry tomato). Then to add insult to injury these vegetables are usually covered in high fat, calorie laden sauces. No wonder obesity is on the rise!

So stop and think about portion size next time you sit down to eat. Are you really having ONE portion, or two? three? four? More? Read the nutrition labels and educate yourself, and read CLOSELY because sometimes it can be cunningly deceiving. Take this cookie label below

See the calories per portion size? 244 Cals, for a large cookie (it was around 4-5" in diameter) that's still pretty high but look again at the label. That cookie is TWO servings! Making the calorie total for ONE WHOLE COOKIE nearly 500 calories! INSANE! I personally would have to workout for over an hour to burn off the calories in that cookie, that is just crazy. Plus who eats HALF a cookie? Me that's who! Especially once I saw the calories on this sucker!

Ways to control portion sizes

Scales - a small set of kitchen scales are a great addition to any healthy person's arsenal. Keep them handy in a drawer, or on the counter and you'll be sure to use them. Weigh out items you are unsure of, and really see what a portion size of cereal looks like! I can almost guarantee that almost everyone will be eating more than one standard portion if you are just pouring cereal into a bowl! I love the scales with glass bowls or plates incorporated into their design but for our household that just isn't a safe option. Frankly we haven't had a full glassware set for years, I'm clumsy and glass just doesn't last long in our house so no way I was investing in a kitchen scale with glass,. Instead we opted for a Plain but functional Electronic Kitchen Scale like this one on Amazon. Plus it's easier to store!

Measuring cups - these are extremely popular in the US and a great quick and easy way to measure out your portion sizes. Usually they come in sets like this one above with sizes ranging from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. We have multiple sets in our kitchen as these are used a LOT in our house, even now I think we could do with another set or two. Usually we leave a cup in the cereal, nuts and anything else we use frequently. The great thing about these is they are cheap at around $1.50 per set! Easily in anyone's budget!

Over the course of the next week, educate yourself about portion sizes, and be mindful not only of what you are eating and HOW MUCH you are eating!


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