Weight loss and fitness goals are tightly tied to nutrition. What you eat is as important as how you eat it. It’s important to realize that while the words ‘portion’ and ‘serving’ are used interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing. A portion is the amount of food you are served or choose to eat. A serving is the amount that experts recommend you consume – often listed on labels or nutrition guides.
One of the best ways to know how much you’re eating is to measure your food before you eat it. For instance, if you’re eating spaghetti, dish up your usual plate of pasta. Now measure that amount before you ladle on the sauce. How much is there in your portion? A serving of pasta is supposed to be ½ cup, cooked.
If you are used to eating your snacks straight out of the container, it’s time to measure how much you’re actually eating. Many people eat far more calories than they know just because they had the whole container and didn’t realize it was more than one serving. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “the serving size on the food label is not a suggested amount of food to eat … it is just a quick way of letting you know the calories and nutrients in a certain amount of food”. The lesson here is carefully read the labels – then measure out your portion.
Being able to measure your foods is great – if you’re at home. It’s a little tougher if you have to eat out a lot. There are, though, some helpful tricks to get you through restaurant meals without hauling out a kitchen’s worth of scales and measuring cups.
Do your research. If you know where you’re going to be eating out at, look the restaurant up online. Often, they have nutritional information available on their website. Knowing what the portion sizes are – and their caloric values – will help you make healthier decisions once you are in the restaurant.
Watch the sizes. Go ahead and order the smaller sizes, for both drinks and food. For instance, if you know you will be drinking sweetened drinks, go for the small size and don’t refill.
Pay attention. To your stomach, that is. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry. Eat slowly, focusing on the company instead of the food. When you aren’t hungry, stop eating. Wrap up the leftovers to take home.
Need more portioning tips? Come by and see one of the personal trainers at Infinite Fitness in Schaumburg. We’re here to help you!