Along with our waistlines, portion sizes have grown larger in the last few decades. Avoid portion distortion by reading labels, downsizing your dinner plate and making comparisons. Try the following tips to right size your portions.
Start with your dinner plate
In a New York Times article, Your Dinner Plate is Bigger that your stomach, columnist David Leonhardt writes that the average diner plate is 12 inches. Larger plates encourage portion distortion by encouraging you to fill all the empty space. To get appropriate serving sizes, serve from smaller plates; say 8 inches.
Bowls are larger, too. The next time you reach for a serving of ice cream or cereal, look to the label to learn how many ounces and calories are in a single serving. Measure out that amount rather than serving yourself freehand.
Dare to compare
WebMD is one of many sites offering a portion guide. Print one and keep it handy in your kitchen. Here are some of the most common serving sizes:
• Meat = 3oz or about the size of a deck of cards
• Cheese = 1.5 ounces or three dice
• Slice of bread = about the size of a cassette tape
• Baked potato = about the size of a computer mouse
• A slice of cake should be about the size of a deck of cards
• A brownie serving should be about the size of a dental floss container
• A teaspoon of butter is about the size of a poker chip.
It can also be helpful to think of your plate in quarter zones. Devote two zones, or half the plate, to vegetables. One quarter should go to lean protein. The final quarter is for whole grains. Remember to use a plate that is 8 inches or smaller.
These portions are smaller than those many of us have become accustomed to eating. Help make the transition away from portion distortion easier by slowing down so your body has a chance to recognize when it is full. Also, include protein and fiber with each meal and snack as they promote satiety. And remember to measure your portions before you put them on your plate. When you are finished wait five or ten minutes before serving up seconds, the delay may dampen your desire to go for more. Another strategy would be to snack on fruits and veggies (think apples, kale chips or berries) between meals so you don’t get too hungry.