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January 2013

The Scoop on Portion Control

Over the years food portion sizes have increased;  from meals at restaurants to packaged ready to eat foods, recipes in cookbooks and even the plates and glasses we use!  This has led to a distortion of true serving sizes, and obesity rates are soaring to prove it.  Portion control is essential in balancing calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, which is one of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines key recommendations.    

Portion versus Serving Size:
Portions of food are the amount of food eaten at one time.  A portion is not a standardized amount and is subjective.  A serving size is a standardized amount of food such as a cup or an ounce. 

Follow these serving sizes to keep portions and calories in control.

Vegetables:  5 or more 1/2 c servings
Fruit:  2-3 1/2 c servings
Milk/Dairy:  2-3 1 c servings
Whole Grains: 3-6 1/2 c servings
Lean Protein: 6-8 ounces

(Intended as a daily guide to healthy eating)

Portion Science:  People serve themselves more food on larger plates than small ones.     Studies show the more food there is on a plate, the more likely it is to be eaten.

Tips for Controlling Portions
Use a smaller plate or bowl:
the fuller the plate looks the more satisfied we are.

Know your food:
check the Nutrition Facts Label on packaged foods for the number of “servings” in the container. A “single-serve” pack may be more than 1 serving.

Teach yourself:
use measuring cups and a kitchen scale; weigh 1 oz. of cheese or bread, measure 1/2 cup of cereal to see what the portion looks like. This visual picture helps to gain better perspective.

Quickly estimate portions: 
3 oz. of meat is the size of a deck of cards, 1/2 cup equals a small fist.

Make your own snack packs:
instead of snacking from the package, count out the portion into a small bowl or bag. For convenience purchase the smaller “snack size” packages which are readily available.

When dining out
choose smaller portions, order 1/2 entrée or share a meal with a friend.


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