Portion Distortion

It’s common knowledge that portion sizes in the United States have increased drastically over the past 20 years, especially in restaurants.  Many health professionals blame these growing portion sizes for America’s obesity epidemic, and there’s even talk about outlawing certain sizes of drinks.  Such limitations are frowned upon by many.  After all, no one want’s to be told how much they can or can’t eat and getting one’s money’s worth when dinning out is also a concern.  Being presented with a skimpy plate of food can leave customers with the feeling of being cheated.  

The problem with larger portion sizes is that the typical American does not know when to stop eating or drinking.  We live in a fast paced world where we tend to ignore our body’s signals.  Working long hours, we skip lunch but then mindlessly eat in front of the television to unwind from the busy day.  Ignoring what our body tells us over time leads to the inability to recognize when we are hungry or full, making it ever easier to overeat at a meal.

Many of us have also been raised with the value that it’s essential to “clean your plate.” Only then will you get dessert!  As a consequence, we tend to eat whatever is on our plate.  All of it.

So how can we return to healthy portion sizes?  Until we learn how to better listen to our bodies, we can start making improvements in portion control by getting a better understanding of what an actual portion size is.

Use this handy chart as a “rule of hand.”

 portion-sizes

Other tips on controlling portion sizes:

Use smaller plates.  Studies have shown that we tend to want to fill up our plate with food—no matter what size the plate is.  Coupled with the possible habit of “cleaning our plate” and we have a problem on our hands.  Choosing a smaller one and telling yourself you can always go back for seconds will prevent you from going overboard.

Don’t set serving dishes at the dinner table.  I’ve noticed when having dinner at friends’ homes that many people tend to set all of the food right on the table.  When we are having fun and enjoying conversations with loved ones, we actually tend to eat more since we aren’t paying  attention to how full we are.  Setting the serving dishes on the counter, makes it less likely that we’ll get up and serve ourselves again unless we truly are still hungry.

Eat slowly.  It takes about fifteen minutes for your brain to realize your stomach is full.  This is one of the reasons why we can become uncomfortably stuffed.  If we eat slower and enjoy our food, our brains will have a chance to realize when it’s time to stop eating.

God gave us food to sustain us, to power us through our day.  We should rejoice in this by savoring each meal, not mindlessly stuffing ourselves.

Do you have trouble controlling portions or mindless eating?

What is one thing you could do today for a better relationship with food?

Sources: Healthy Portion ToolHeart.org, Keep An Eye on Portion Size

Originally posted 2013-08-17 09:00:09.

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