by Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN
Diet Do #2: Pare Portions & Sideline Servings
Are you portion-challenged? When you eat or drink, do you often find it difficult if not impossible to stop eating or drinking when you’ve had enough, even when you’re full?
You’re definitely not alone…countless people have just the same problem leaving a few chips or cookies in a bag, leaving soda in a can, or leaving unfinished food like pasta, steak, or whatever on a plate. I know I once did, too. A friend once asked me “How can you throw that away?” after I ate only half of a small ice cream cone? I simply told her that after years of dieting and deprivation (in my late teens and early twenties), I have learned to have what I like, savor and enjoy it, and stop when I’m comfortable..I don’t need to eat the whole thing. I never feel like not finishing the food on my plate or beverage in my cup or glass is a bad thing; I don’t try to be wasteful, but when I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.
Years of practicing portion control have helped me truly learn to 1) enjoy whatever food or beverage I consume; 2) incorporate a wider variety of food into my eating pattern; and 3) no longer associate meals or snacks or any foods or beverages with guilt–because I allow myself small portions of whatever foods I choose, I never feel deprived and instead, feel satisfied when I eat what I enjoy, but simply don’t have too much of it.
So, my friends, the Diet Do for today is to pare your portions when you can. I realize this is no easy task, given we live in a world in which supersized portions are the standard. And while it’s tough, but not impossible, to find smaller portions at fast food and other restaurants, at convenience and grocery stores, and at ball parks and other sport- or entertainment-related venues, practicing portion control is like an art form and must be practiced to be near-perfected (after all, none of us can nor should we want to be perfect…how boring that would be!).
Here are some ways to decrease portions painlessly at home or when you’re out and about:
1) Before you buy or consume any packaged or processed food, get all the facts. Nutrition Facts panels on food or beverage packages (including bags, cans, cups, boxes, jars, or other containers) show you how many calories one serving of a food or beverage contains, and how many servings the package contains. Before you dig in (or gulp it down), ask yourself how many servings of the item you plan to have, and take the time to do the math to see if it fits into your daily calorie budget and if it’s really worth it.
2) Remember that one serving of a packaged item may not necessarily be an appropriate portion for you during one meal or snack. For example, one tablespoon may be the serving size listed on a food label for mayonnaise when one or two teaspoons during one meal may be a more appropriate portion or amount for you to have. Also, just because a package of cookies says 3 cookies is a serving does not mean we should be having 3 cookies in one sitting or on one day (especially if the cookies are more than 50 calories a piece).
3) Invest in smaller sized plates, bowls, and cups. When preparing meals, fill them with the amount you want to consume–not too much, and not too little. If you give yourself a smaller portion than you’re used to and eat it with smaller utensils, you’ll likely end up consuming smaller portions. If you make extra food you plan to use the next night or another night, be sure to refrigerate or freeze it right away (before you even sit down to eat) to help you eat only the portion you doled out for yourself.
4) When you have snacks, pre-portion single-serve amounts using dixie cups or snack-sized plastic baggies (think of them as your own 100 or so calorie packs). Just as with main meals, planning ahead and preparing appropriate portions of healthful (and sometimes not-so-healthful foods like candy or cookies) can help reduce your risk for over consuming calories and at the same time, satisfy your cravings without derailing your “diet”. You may also find it helpful (if not a bit anal-retentive) to carry around a few extra baggies in your purse or bag; this way if you buy a snack in too large a portion and want to control the amount you have, you can put the amount you want to consume (and no more) into one and save the rest for another day.
For more information, go to nutritionatyourfingertips.com.
Diet DO #1: Eat Only When You're Hungry. Click here for details.
Tomorrow: we show you how to fit in fidgeting!
For more information, please see my web site, nutritionatyourfingertips.com.
Nutritionist Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of the new book “Nutrition At your Fingertips," as well as Feed Your Family Right” and “So, What Can I Eat?” She is a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist who has counseled families and individuals on managing their weight and various health conditions, from diabetes to high cholesterol. She has appeared on CBS’s The Early Show, The Today Show, and on dozens of other national and local programs on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Food Network, Lifetime, and NY1. www.elisazied.com
For more information on her book, go to www.nutritionatyourfingertips.com