Beware of Portion Distortion on a Diet
How large is a portion?
A lot of us think we are reading the food labels correctly, or eating right in a healthy way, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First of all, how many servings are actually in the box/can/bottle? We all look at the number of calories on the label, but how often do we look at the serving size, or servings per package?
For instance, small pizza about the diameter of the size of your hand may look as though it is a single serving intended for one person, but if you read the label, you may find that it lists 2 or more servings in the box, up to EIGHT in some cases. If you eat the whole thing, you are eating far more calories than you ever guessed, and might have even thought you were eating a 'healthy' vegetarian pizza only to find that the one meat version has more calories from protein, and less from fat and carbohydrates.
Likewise, a 'diet brownie' may actually have 2 or more servings in something the size of the palm of your hand.
And it is not just calories we need to look at, but other ingredients we need to avoid for the sake of health, such as fat and sodium.
For instance, a can of tomatoes can say it has only a certain percentage of your daily allowance of salt in it, but if you look more carefully, the serving size might be only half a cup. Therefore, the serving size would not be one can, but 11 servings. Since salt makes the body retain water, sometimes as much as ten pounds, if you are dieting to lose weight, avoid salt, especially if you have high blood pressure.
What about a large bag of potato chips? No matter what the brand, you know you can never eat just one! So check the serving size, and count out the 6 or so chips they calculate for their serving into small plastic bags and use them as handy snack packs to stop you dipping into the large bag too often.
When it comes to calculating the calories of food that is not pre-packaged, we are also not very good at quantities. For instance, how much is an ounce of meat or cheese?
According to the USDA, one ounce of cheese, meat, turkey is the size of 2 dice you would use to play a board game. The trouble then becomes, how much are you eating per sitting? Think of the quarter pound or even third of a pound hamburgers on the market=4 or 5 ounces of meat.
In restaurants, we are served huge heaped portions on large plates. How much are we really eating?
In recipes and on diets, we are told to eat a medium piece of fruit, but what does medium actually mean? Here are some quick guidelines:
A cup of food=the size of a closed fist
A medium piece of fruit or vegetable like a potato=the size of a closed fist
3 ounces of meat-the size of a deck of cards
1 teaspoon=about the size of your thumbnail
1 tablespoon=about the size of your thumb
The secret of successful dieting is not to starve yourself, but eat small portions in moderation. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, read your food labels when you shop, and don't overeat when you dine out. Beware portion distortion, for successful weight loss.