Rethinking food portions

Rethinking food portions

Americans are getting fatter and waistlines are only expected to keep getting bigger. Portion sizes are two to five times what they were thirty years ago and our view of a full plate is very different than what a healthy plate should be!

In our fast-paced, more is more environment, unhealthy habits are served up as a main course and today's serving sizes have us eating way more than average serving sizes.  "Plates are bigger, bowls are bigger, cups are bigger and we have a tendency to fill them up," said CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Director of Patient Services, Samantha Rider.

Rider is passionate about teaching people about what they are putting into their bodies and how it is changing their anatomy.  "Your stomach does change based on what you're putting in there," she said, "you can stretch the stomach, just like you can shrink the stomach."

Out of control portion sizes have made many people pile up their plates or supersize, when one helping or a kids meal is actually enough.  "You've got to look at health versus the most economical thing and maybe it's a lot cheaper to get something that's bigger, but you've got to look at the fact that you don't need all that fat and calories," said Rider.

When we look at accurate serving sizes, the three-way divided plates can be helpful. The larger portion actually needs to be full of vegetables.  The other two portion sizes are much smaller and should be for a lean meat and a complex carb, like a sweet potato.  Fruit and a low-fat dairy item can be served on the side.

Rider says fruit should be eaten and not drank, unless you truly stick to a serving size which does not look like much!  "If I poured this at home, my family would either think I ran out of orange juice or I got side-tracked and forgot what I was doing," she said.

A seemingly healthy bowl of cereal, like low-fat granola, is not so great if you fill up an average-size bowl.  "It is actually 500 calories and six carb exchanges and we haven't even added the milk yet," said Rider.

The implications for overeating go far beyond tighter clothes.  Obesity can bring on heart disease and diabetes.  That is why Rider says you need to think before you overeat.  "You really have to consider any time you're going back for seconds: am I really hungry or am I just finally getting to relax and so I just want to continue to do that," she said.

Those are tips to keep your plate and your weight in check!

*A good guide for serving sizes is about a half cup portion. For meat, the cut should be about the size of your fist.

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