Summer is here and with it often come desires to shape up when it comes
to health and eating habits. Over the next few months, let your TMMC dietitians
help you make healthy lifestyle changes as we address common bad habits
to break this summer!
Habit #2: Habitually Consuming Excess Portions
It’s Friday night and you’re cozied up on your couch enjoying
your favorite TV show with a family-sized bag of chips. You reach your
hand into the bag again, definitely losing count of how many chips you
have eaten. You glance at the nutrition facts label and realize you’ve
probably eaten at least five times the suggested serving size. We have
all experienced this type of "portion distortion" at some point
which often brings feelings of shock, confusion, and even guilt. Understanding
that bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to portions,
can help you take steps toward a healthier way of eating and managing
Controlling portions tends to feel impossible in the environment we live
in today. Food packages packed with multiple servings, all-you-can-eat
food buffets, super-sized meals, and extra-large restaurant plates all
distort our perception of appropriate portions. Research shows that when
faced with larger portions, people unintentionally consume more calories.
This can lead to consistent excess calorie intake that can be detrimental
to your health by being a risk factor for obesity, high cholesterol, heart
disease, diabetes, and sleep disorders. Controlling portions is one of
the best ways to monitor your calorie intake and keep meals balanced.
A healthy goal is to eat a reasonably sized meal that fits within your
specific calorie and nutrient needs.
The portions of food you need daily depend on your age, sex, height, weight,
and activity level. The USDA's "MyPlate" (www.myplate.gov)
provides guidelines as to how much of each food group you should consume.
You can create a "MyPlate Plan" that estimates your specific
needs and daily recommended intake. Balancing your meals using all the
food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, dairy, and
a small amount of fats and oils can help ensure you get the nutrients
you need to stay healthy. Keep reading for additional tips on how to control
portions and avoid everyday excess calories.
Top 5 Ways to be Mindful of Everyday Excess Calories:
Split entrées at restaurants. These days, meal portions at restaurants are typically enough to serve
at least 2 people. This can be counterintuitive for many people who grew
up with the mindset that they shouldn’t waste food. However, in
many ways, eating when you’re not hungry is a waste too. Therefore,
go into a meal with the mindset of splitting the entrée, either
with another person, or immediately pack up half of the meal in a to-go
container. It would be less wasteful to share your meal or save some for later.
Set aside leftovers. Monitor your hunger at home by serving smaller portions. After serving
yourself, put the leftovers into food storage containers immediately.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t eat any more, but
before you go back for seconds, ask yourself, “Am I even still hungry,
or would it be better for me to save these leftovers for another meal
Eat off smaller plates, and don't eat from the bag. An easy trick is consuming foods off salad plates and out of cereal bowls
instead of entrée plates or large soup bowls. This tricks your
mind into thinking you're eating more than you actually are and gives
you a more realistic sense of proper serving sizes.
Eat without any distractions. Eating when you're distracted guarantees that you'll overeat!
If you don't take the time to pay attention to what you're putting
into your mouth, it's tough to recognize when you're full. Avoid
eating in front of the TV or other screens. Instead, try to taste your
food and truly enjoy what you're eating.
Portion your food using your hand as a reference. Your hand can be a convenient portion guide to remind you of appropriate
serving sizes. The size of your palm for protein, a fist-sized piece of
fruit or grain, one cupped hand for ice cream or cooked veggies, two cupped
hands for raw veggies, or a thumb for dressing, peanut butter, or cheese.
This can be quite a “handy” tool for help with portion control!
If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to
help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered
Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office
or our Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the Torrance Memorial
Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.