The clean plate club is not a coveted membership any more. In fact, portions for soft drinks, salty snacks, pastries, burgers and more have sized up over the past 30 years in both grocery stores and restaurants. Did you know restaurants may provide up to triple the amount of food you should be eating?
As a study in the American Journal of Public Health explains, larger food portions with increased energy content make it important to address the current obesity epidemic by educating the public to consume smaller portions.
Where does this leave us today? This guide will help reset your thinking and discuss how much of each food group you need to maintain your health.
How much should you be eating?
There isn’t a simple answer to this as it will vary per individual. Your health plan, how active you are and whether you are trying to gain, lose or maintain your current weight are all factors. However, your hand is a great unit of measurement — a good rule of thumb, or shall we say palm and fist, too. Here’s a breakdown of which food groups can be measured with your hand.
- Protein s such as meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt should be one palm’s worth.
- Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, carrots, artichokes and celery should be one fist’s worth.
- Carbohydrates including grain, rice, quinoa, potatoes, oatmeal and beans should be one cupped hand’s worth.
- Fats such as oils, butter, cheese, nuts and seeds should be the amount of one thumb’s worth.
Don’t forget to look at the nutrition label. The serving size does not always align with the amount in the package. A redesigned nutrition label will be required on all packaged goods by the summer of 2018 to help simplify the facts.
Another key is to listen to your body when it’s telling you that you’re full. The stomach takes time to break down the chemicals that are released in the foods consumed, which then signal your brain that you’re full.
Tips to help keep from overeating
When eating in, try to use smaller plates. Even today’s dishware has increased in size, which may lead you to fill up your plate even though you may not need that much food.
Leave the food on a kitchen counter and have everyone load their plate there, then sit at the table. Keeping the extra food out of reach will help stop you from grabbing a second portion.
When dining out, ask for a doggie bag right away. Divide your entrée in two and box the second half for a later meal before you begin eating.
Limit the meals you’re eating out. You may not know the portion size or how many calories, fats or grams of sugar are in foods that are prepared by someone else.
Think steamed or grilled, rather than deep-fried and breaded.
Hold off on the starches and carbohydrates and double up on the vegetables instead.
Try to avoid eating during an activity such as watching TV or walking around. It’s easy not to think about how much you’re eating when you’re preoccupied.
Eat snacks from a plate or bowl rather than the box or bag they come in. This way you can scoop out the appropriate serving size.
If you have young children or even teens that love to snack, divide bigger bags or boxes of snacks into single-serving packages like baggies or plastic containers.
Try to eat meals at regular times; this will help prevent overeating later at night.
Remember, too many calories can affect your weight and ultimately your health. Keep track of what and how much you eat to help you better understand your calorie intake over time. Buy fresh and try to avoid processed foods. Pay attention to the size of your portions, and in turn you will help the portion distortion that has been created from our supersized snacks and meals. Your waistline and health will thank you!