Portion (out of!) Control

20 Jan

When you are in the kitchen with your family, talk about nutrition. These discussions need to be done with a little strategy.  Children cannot be barraged with information. It will sound like lecturing, and the “off” button will be activated in your child.  Think of your conversations being constructed with bullet points. Brief. Light. Just the highlights. Discussions such as these can be easily conducted while working on getting a meal to the table.

Here is a starting point. Discussing portion size is a must. This country has been “super sized” into expecting huge portions that are not designed for optimum health. When discussing portion sizes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • 1 ounce of meat (protein) is about the size of your thumb. 4 ounces is an appropriate serving and about the size of a deck of cards..
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is about an ounce.
  • One serving of bread is usually 1 slice.
  • Fruit juice can generally count as 1 fruit serving a day. In other words, 2 glasses of fruit juice isn’t 2 fruit servings. And remember, high quality fruit juice is worth the extra expense.
  • A vegetable serving is 4 ounces. That equals a half cup.
  • A serving of milk is 8 ounces.  That is one cup.
  • One serving of Grape Nuts cereal is 4 ounces.  That is 1/2 cup.
  • One serving of crackers, such as Cheez-It crackers, is about 25 crackers

Are these serving sizes surprisingly small?  This briefly illustrates how out of control portion sizes have become acceptable in our diet. The expectation has changed to a “bigger is better” mentality with food. Portion size is included on the packaging of most food, but consumers fail to use this tool.

Hey, I get it.  Being in the grocery store juggling kids, a list, and playing beat the clock is rough.  Not a great time to stop, read and analyze a label.  How do we combat this?  Start by standing at your pantry or food cabinet at home. Education can begin at home.  When time isn’t so tight, take a minute or two to look at the food you have in your cupboard or pantry.  This is a great time to read the labels and start to formulate a healthy portion control plan. Start looking on food packaging for portion information at home, not at the store,  and share it with your children. It is a great habit to get your family into, and a good way to have discussions about portion control.

Talking of portion control, I do not allow my family to eat out of a bag of chips, for example, when snacking,  They must pour their snack into a bowl.  I expect this for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is simple cross contamination.  I am a clinical nutrition professional, so food safety is always on my mind.  It just isn’t healthy to put your hand to your mouth and then place that hand back into a big bag of snack food.

The second reason to portion foods, including snack food, is for control.  You just don’t know how much you are eating when not portioned it out.  And I think to learn self control, eating a certain portion raises awareness.  “Mindless eating” is eating without being conscientious of what you are eating.  Portioning your food helps eating be more mindful.

I am also a fan of eating meals att the table and on a schedule when possible.  It is important to enjoy meals with music on, with others, and making it a social event when possible.  If eating alone, I still think ambiance and environment are important.  Eating at a healthy pace, sipping water or other healthy beverage, and having conversation is a way to slow down eating.  The body signals when it is full, but you have to give those signals time to get front he stomach to the brain!

Portion control is important, as is variety and physical activity. It is important, though, to start with one small step, one small change.   Next start walking after dinner!  Another small change with a big impact!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: