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Portion Control - How Much Are You Eating?

Unless Michael Bloomberg is your mayor, you’re going to need to make your own decisions when it comes to controlling how much you eat. Ignoring for the moment the very important what you eat, the question is how much of it are you eating?Keeping in mind the steadfast rule that you will gain weight if the number of calories you consume exceeds the number of calories you expend, is it possible that portion control could play an important role? Is it possible, even, that some folks don’t actually understand what a “portion” is?

Starting with the last question first, um, yes. Plenty of people incorrectly assume that a portion is the same thing as a serving. Wrong. A portion size varies. It is the amount of a single food item served in a single eating occasion. What the waiter brings you when you order your entrée – that’s a portion size. What you put on your own table in the morning for breakfast – that’s a portion size. It’s also probably a few servings. Serving sizes are a standardized unit of measuring foods (i.e. a cup or an ounce) used in dietary guidance. Chances are what you’ve grown accustomed to as a typical portion size is more than is the recommended serving size.

More food eaten equals more calories consumed. More calories consumed equals greater chance for gaining weight. Part of the dilemma for Americans is that the amount of food presented to us at each sitting has continued to increase. Restaurants have continued to offer larger and larger portions for less money. The snacks we buy continue to grow in portion size as well. It’s an example of a time when getting the most bang for our buck also means we’re in danger of adding to our waistline. The unfortunate reality for us is that studies show the portion size does matter. In general, the bigger the portion size we’re presented with, the more we eat.

So, restaurants are giving us too much. The candy bars are too big. What can we do? Plenty. For one, it would appear that the quieter, moresoftly lit venues tend to be the kinds of atmospheres where we spend more time eating, and eating less of what’s on the plate. What a concept! Slowing down how fast we consume the food to actually enjoy it and enjoy the people we’re eating with. Loud music and bright lights, on the other hand, tend to result in eating more and enjoying less. It’s simply something to keep in mind.

At home, it is all about self-control. After all, you’re the one putting the portion size on the plate. You’re the one going for seconds (or not). Absolutely it is possible to train yourself and your body to take smaller portions, eat more slowly, and maybe even leave the table after one serving to avoid being sucked into a second helping.

Just remember that portions sizes do matter and they’re completely different from serving sizes. Mayor Bloomberg is on oversized soda watch in New York, but you’re the one in control of your portion sizes. It’s quite possible a change or two on your plate might have a rather pleasant effect on the scales