Let’s take a step back and look at the terms “serving size” and “portion”. The two terms are not interchangeable. A “serving size” is a guide to help you see how many calories and nutrients are in a specific quantity of that food, for example a cup of yogurt or a slice of bread. A “portion” is how much food you choose to eat at one time, which may be more or less than a serving.
Over the past few decades, portions have grown significantly. Take bagels, for example: 20 years ago, most bagels were three inches in diameter and about 140 calories; today they have a six inch diameter and 350 calories. Eat one and you’ve consumed three servings of grains. We have become so desensitized to “big food” that it’s hard for us to recognize what a normal portion looks like.
Now that we’re so used to overdoing it, is it possible to bring portion sizes back to earth? Here are some tips: Use smaller plates, a sandwich can get lost on a dinner plate, but look huge on an appetizer plate. Avoid taking the entire bag of chips or container of ice cream to the couch. Dish out meals at the counter, not keeping food at arm’s length lessens the temptations for seconds. Be aware most restaurant portions may be two, three or more times the recommended serving size, so consider sharing meals, ordering an appetizer as a main dish, packing up half to take home before you begin to eat or ordering the kid’s meal at a fast-food restaurant. Don’t fall prey to the giant value meal or jumbo drink just because they are a few cents more than the regular size. That “deal” is no deal when it triples your calories!