Portion Control - PIH Health

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Published on July 28, 2016

Size Matters – When It Comes to Portion Control

Portion Control

Serving SizeLet’s face it—portion control is the last thing that comes to mind when you’re hungry. Many of us don’t even know what a healthy portion looks like. In fact, studies from the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Nutrition and the Journal of the American Medical Association have shown that the average size of American food has gone up by 138 percent in the past 46 years. This increase has also inflated the waists of Americans; and contributed to many other health issues, including diabetes. Larger food portions have brought the adult obesity rate up to 35 percent of the United States population—that’s 78.6 million people (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

“Limiting meal portions can prevent the risk of obesity-related diseases and conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, difficulty in breathing, stroke, and even some cancers,” said Janet R. Staples-Edwards MD a PIH Health internal medicine physician. “A simple change in a daily routine can have a significant impact on a person’s overall quality of life.”

Here are some tips on how to control your food intake, maintain a healthy weight and an overall healthy lifestyle:

1. Know the difference—serving size and portion size

A portion size refers to the amount of food you eat. Serving sizes are what appear on Nutrition Fact Labels (Consumer Reports). A helpful tip is to buy smaller bowls and plates to help ration out your portions; this can prevent you from taking oversized portions. You can reference the following guide when it comes to meal preparation:

  • Meats, fish and poultry: Size of your palm or a deck of cards
  • Rice and pasta: Size of your fist
  • Fruits and vegetables: Two fists—the more the better
  • Nuts and raisins: One handful
  • Fats, oils and sugar: Tip of your thumb
  • Sweets and treats: Keep these at a minimum—1/2 cup of ice cream or one ounce of chips (about a handful)

2. Cut it out

Cut back on oversized plates that contain low nutritional value and limit fast food / restaurant trips. The less time you spend dining out, the more time you will have to think about your meal portions. When you do go out to dinner, skip the bread, order smaller plates and choose water vs. sweet drinks. If you’re in a hurry and need to pick something up, skip the fries, chips and side orders—you’ll thank yourself later.

3. Add more vegetables and fiber

Fill your plate with more greens and less carbs. Greens have a great amount of nutrients and can help with digestion. Fiber can also help you feel full and boost your metabolism.

4. Limit distractions while eating

Avoid distractions such as sitting in front of a computer or TV as these habits can contribute to overeating.

5. Drink water

The body often mistakes thirst for hunger when it’s dehydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and try to drink a glass right before every meal.

6. Give it a shot

Put yourself to the test. What can you lose—other than inches off of your waist? 

Weight and nutrition classes are available at both PIH Health Whittier Hospital and PIH Health Downey Hospital. Visit: pihhealth.org/wellness/classes-events/ for a full schedule or call 698.0811 Ext. 81085 or email community.health@pihhealth.org for more information.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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