Monday, July 21, 2008

Its All About the Portion Size

The obesity epidemic in the United States can be blamed in part on ever increasing portions of food served at restaurants. We start to expect our burgers to have 2 patties of meat and our salads to be at least the size of a small vegetable garden (and smothered with bacon, cheese and heavy dressings). Even when we try to eat right and cook at home, the weight may not come off. This is in large part due to the fact that we have lost all sense of proper portion size and control.

I worked with a dietitian five years ago when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was amazing to consider the fact that most meals - even those I created at home - were wildly out of proportion. Fortunately, there are a few rules of thumb that are easy to consider and helpful for you to use in determining proper portion sizes. Coupled with a knowledge of the food pyramid, you could easily start to lose weight, just by being more aware of your portions (no carb counting or low-fat meals required)!

A single serving of cheese is the size of a deck of playing cards (and is not as thick as the entire stack!) Your fist is the approximate size of a serving of lean meat - about 4 ounces. For fruits and vegetables a serving is that which can fit in your cupped hand. Sauces, dressings and spreads usually fall in the category of fats, which is the tiny portion of food at the top of the pyramid. Go easy on these, and consider switching fat-laden dressings for light olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

You should be aware of alcoholic drink serving sizes too, not only for your health, but also safety on the road. A serving of beer is 12 ounces (a pint is more than this); for wine it is only 5 ounces. Of course, hard liquor is a mere 1.5 ounces per serving. Be careful not to over-pour.

Are you ready to make a healthy change to your diet? Start here and get to know the food pyramid, build a solid foundation with high fiber grains and add many fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink up too - as long as it is fresh, healthy water. Before long, you'll start to realize what was weighing you down.

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