Oversize Portions: Why are we all eating too much?

In a society where super sizing your meal is acceptable, its no wonder that 34% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight based on the CDC obesity survey. The American mentality of increasing your portion size for a few more cents is gravely off balance to maintain a healthy body. However, fast food has become a main staple in our diets because it’s fast and easy. The problem is it isn’t nutritious and it doesn’t fill you up so people continue to eat and eat which just causes us to pack on the pounds. Diets don’t help either because they include eliminating certain foods, restricting calories or avoiding food altogether. Deprivation kicks in causing you to over indulge when it comes time to eat. For anyone who is looking to become healthier, fitter and eat more nutritiously it all boils down to portion control and sticking to serving size.

Portion control and serving size may sound easy but when it comes down to it most people are overeating at every meal. When you consume too many calories you gain weight. The extra food that isn’t turned into energy is stored as fat. But how do you know how much to eat at each sitting? Most people won’t sit down and count their calories to make sure they aren’t consuming too many or even look at the back of their food packages to know how many servings they are eating. But sticking to serving size doesn’t have to be difficult. By know and understanding portion control and serving size you can stop over eating at every meal.

For many people they eat until they feel full or allow their eyes to determine how much they will eat. Rather they should base their meal on proper serving size and portion size. Serving size is easily determined by package labeling. On every food product there is a serving size on the label that tells you what the serving size is. Normally found at the very top of the label with the calories, percentages, and ingredients beneath it. The serving size determines how many calories, fat, protein and cholesterol are in each serving and it also tells you how many servings are in the entire package. For example if it says 1 serving is 1 cup and it is 150 calories and there are 2 servings in the package, then if you eat the whole package you actually are consuming 300 calories. For people who don’t look at the label or don’t understand what it means they could be over eating at every sitting. It’s important to regulate how many servings your consuming so your not taking in extra calories, especially when you’re snacking.

What a recommended portion actually looks like

You may be wondering about how to determine serving size when it comes down to foods you make at home such as meats, cheeses and fruits and vegetables. Although making meals at home tends to be much more nutritious and healthier than fast food, eating too much can have the same effect on the body causing extra calories to be turned into extra pounds. That’s why portion control isn’t just about super sizing at the drive through. Portion control teaches you how to determine how much of each food group should be on your plate and what a serving of each food group looks like. Based on the USDA fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy should be split equally at each meal. This means that half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, proteins should be lean, 1/2 your grains should be whole grains and swap dairy products to fat free or low fat. The daily recommendations are as follows for the average adult: fruits 2 cups, vegetables 2 1/2 cups, grains 6 ounces, dairy 3 cups, and protein 5 1/2 ounces.

So now that you know how much you need throughout the day, how do you determine how much to put on your plate (without having to pull out your measuring cups and spoons)? This is how people get in the most trouble because they have never been told the equivalent size of what their putting on their plate, they just pile on the food. To understand portion size you need to associate measurements with common day items. For example 3 ounces of meat is approximately the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A baseball is equivalent to 1 cup of food (i.e. fruits, vegetables) or a medium sized apple. A tennis ball is equal to 3/4 of a cup. A light bulb or a computer mouse would equal 1/2 cup. And an egg would be equal to 1/4 cup. A poker chip is equivalent to 1 tablespoon. One ounce of cheese is equal to 4 dice stacked together. Two teaspoons is the size of a ping-pong ball where as 1 teaspoon is equal to the tip of the thumb.

Use common every day objects to start portioning out your meals. Remember to not oversize your portions and don’t eat past the point of feeling full. Eat slowly and chew your food. This will help you to feel fuller, longer which discourages overeating. With these tips and tools you can successfully stop overeating and become healthier.

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