There is no portion control police

What is portion control?

Have you ever heard people say “eat in moderation” or “portion control?” What does that mean exactly? Portion is defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as how much food you choose to eat at one time. This can be very different than the recommended portion or the actual serving size that is specified on a label.

Michigan State University Extension says that it is important to have a balance of calories in and calories out. To maintain your weight that means that the amount of caloric intake matches the amount of calories it takes to do whatever physical activity/activities you preform throughout that day.

Besides watching portion sizes there are a few factors that also need to be considered when maintaining a healthy weight. Each person is different when calculating calories used during various physical activities. You must consider age, gender, genetics, weight and activity level. An example from the NIH is that a woman who weighs 150 pounds may burn a more calories because of intense activity, where as a woman of the similar weight may not burn as many calories because she is less active.

Knowing this, we still need to know what is moderation or the correct portion for you. It is best to first read labels on purchased food. Labels will tell you many things about the food item including serving size, calories per serving size, nutritional value, fats, carbohydrates, sodium and protein. One thing to remember is that serving size may be different than your portion. It is also important to measure out portions; trying to visually measure out food items is usually distorted. The label may say a serving size is one cup that means to use a one cup measuring cup, or eight ounces per serving of the prepared food. What if you are at a restaurant or a friends home, how can you tell what is a portion for you?

At a restaurant it is suggested to eat half of the portion you are served or order the small portion, because today most restaurants provide a generous portion, so be wise and take some home. When eating family style at family or friends home, limit your portions to one scoop or small serving of any food item. This will help you to maintain a sense of control without over eating.

At home make it a practice to take the amount of food that is equal to one serving, measure your portions, eat slowly, avoid eating in front of the television, use smaller dishes and control fat and high calorie intake. Also eat regular meals, purchase healthy snacks, measure all snacks and treats like ice cream to help you keep within your limits and become a conscious eater. Eat when you are hungry, not because you are bored. Becoming aware of your portions can help you become a healthier eater. Measuring your portions gives you control and eating smaller amounts helps you maintain moderate eating habits.

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