March is National Nutrition Month!  Today we’re bringing you some important information on portion size.  AUI provides free resources to our clients on health and wellness.  To learn more about these, please contact us!

Did you know that in the 1980s, a typical bagel had 140 calories and a 3-inch diameter? Today, a bagel averages 6 inches and is a whopping 350 calories! With 64-ounce fountain drinks, jumbo-size snacks, massive restaurant entrees and the ability to “up-size” fast food for pennies more, it is easy to get confused about proper portion size.

What is a Portion?

A portion is the amount of a specific food an individual eats for a meal or snack. Many factors affect food portions, such as age, gender, activity level, appetite, and where or when the food is obtained and eaten.

What Is the Difference Between Portions and Servings?

A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat. There is no standard or correct portion size. A serving is a standard amount (issued by the USDA) used to give advice about how much to eat, and to identify how many calories and nutrients are in a particular food. This is the information located on the nutritional label of a food product (serving size).

For example:

You eat a sandwich with two slices of bread.

  • The nutrition label on the bread states that the serving size is one slice.
  • Your portion is two slices, which equals two servings.

Healthy Portion Sizes

For a general idea of the amount of food you should be consuming, use the following recommendations:

  • A serving of meat is about 2 or 3 ounces—about the size of the palm of your hand.
  • One serving of grains is equal to one slice of bread, one ounce of cereal, or half a cup of pasta or rice.
  • A serving of fruit or vegetables is equal to one piece of fresh fruit or vegetable, half a cup of chopped, or ¾ cup of either juice. In general, it’s not as necessary to be vigilant about vegetable and fruit intake, as any amount is healthy—just be aware of the sugar content in fruit.
  • The USDA recommends you make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein and whole grains

Tips for Choosing Sensible Portions

To avoid overeating when eating out, consider the following strategies:

  • Choose a small- or medium-size portion. If out for dinner, see if you can have the lunch portion.
  • If the main dish portions are larger than you want, order an appetizer or side dish instead, or split the main entrée with a friend.
  • Never force yourself to keep eating. When you are full, stop. Take the rest home and enjoy it as a meal the next day.
  • Stay away from “all-you-can-eat” buffets.

To control portion sizes at home, try the  following strategies:

  • Every so often, measure out the typical portion of foods you eat often, using standard measuring cups. This will help you estimate the portion size—and you’ll likely be surprised to find out exactly how much you are eating.
  • Use a smaller plate for your meal. People tend to eat more out of habit when it’s on a bigger plate.
  • Put sensible portions on your plate at the beginning of the meal, and don’t go back for seconds. Chances are, if you sit back and let your meal digest, you will find you are satisfied in about 10-15 minutes.
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