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Portion Control Creates a Healthier Lifestyle

Portion sizes are on the up-and-up and so are obesity rates. Here are some good ways to limit the amount of food your eating.

Ever wondered why obesity wasn’t such a prevalent problem a decade or two ago? It’s because before the 1980s, food portions were much smaller than they are now. From pizza to burgers, sodas, popcorn and even coffee, sizes have more than doubled. Predictably, the number of calories per serving and the average American’s waistline circumference have increased in direct proportion to the supersizing trend.

Some sources point to the 1980s as the start of meal portions getting bigger. But it was a major fast food chain that popularized this practice in the early 1990s, probably conditioning people to expect more and eat more. Although the fast food chain had enough sense to discontinue the practice eleven years later, it had become a habit and other food businesses followed suit. Further, the value-for-money mentality tempts people to pay a little extra for a much bigger serving. Data from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) compare the calories and size portions in some foods from twenty years ago to today. Take a look at them:

  20 Years Ago Today
Two Slices of Pizza 500 cal 850 cal
One Cheeseburger 333 cal 590 cal
Movie Popcorn 270 cal (5 cups) 630 cal (1 Tub)
8 oz Coffee with Milk and Sugar 45 cal --
Grande Caffe Mocha, Whip Cream and 2% Milk -- 330 cal

Unbeknownst to many, the satisfaction of getting the most bang for their buck is offset by the higher risks for chronic lifestyle diseases that eating too much brings about. High blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, high cholesterol and even psychological conditions like depression and anxiety are only some of them.

Here are some tips recommended by health experts to aid in weight reduction, combat obesity and prevent the onset of chronic debilitating diseases.

Eat Only a Fraction of the Portion

This is easier said than done. Americans are so accustomed to seeing large portions that eating a smaller size makes them feel their hunger has not been satiated. It takes a major mind overhaul to condition your brain into thinking that a regular sized meal rather than a big one is enough.

Another obstacle to portion control is not knowing what or how much a recommended serving size of a certain food constitutes. For reliable guides on serving sizes, click here to go to the USDA website for a comprehensive list of serving sizes.

Here are tips to help you comply with your goal of eating less and controlling portion sizes:

Dining at home:

  • Serve food in individual portions, not in platters, to lessen the temptation of helping yourself to a second serving.
  • Replace your regular sized plates with smaller ones.
  • Store leftovers in portion controlled sizes.
  • Don’t eat out of the bag or carton.

Eating in restaurants:

  • Order the smaller sizes. Avoid the temptation of ordering the jumbo meal just because it costs only a few cents more.
  • Develop the skill of eyeballing your correct portion size. Eat only that and take out the rest in a doggie bag for a later meal.
  • Share dessert with your companion.
  • Order more of salads and vegetables instead of carbs and red meat.

Use Baby Spoons For Eating

Eating with baby spoons and forks will force you to take longer to finish your meal. Since it takes several minutes for the body to realize it’s had enough, you'll avoid eating more than what’s needed to satisfy your hunger.  If you’re skeptical about this weight loss tip, try eating a bowl of oatmeal with a baby spoon, then eat the same serving size using a regular spoon. You’ll find that with miniature utensils, you take longer to consume your meal and end up eating less. An added bonus is, you get to relish the taste of food better when you eat in small amounts rather than when you swallow a spoonful in one gulp.

Baby Spoon Alternatives

  • Use chopsticks if teeny-weeny spoons make you feel uncomfortable. They serve the same purpose of making you take longer to eat and eating less.
  • Use your non-dominant hand. Holding a spoon with your left hand if you are right-handed and vice versa demands agility, so you focus on getting the food into your mouth and consequently reduce your food intake.
  • Chew your food slowly. It's easy to rush through meals when you're busy but eating slowly makes you feel full even if you have eaten less food. Count either seconds or the number of chews for each mouthful.
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal and take sips in between bites. Water fills up your stomach and you’ll get that full feeling sooner.

Losing weight has never been easy for most people. Food, after all, brings comfort and pleasure to the senses. Hence, to be deprived of the source of this pleasure makes adhering to a diet a difficult and challenging task.

Defying the mega-sizing craze through portion control, using baby spoons and developing the habit of chewing slowly are sensible additions to your weight loss program. Unlike other fad diets that make you gain back the pounds as soon as you shed them, these tips can become lifestyle habits that will result in a slimmer and healthier you.


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