“Super-size it!” How many times have we uttered those words from our car window into a speaker box at a fast food restaurant? Do we do this just once in awhile because we happen to be extra hungry on a particular day or do we do it nearly all the time out of habit because we consider gigantic portion sizes the norm?
In the past twenty years, food portions have increased three to four times in size. We used to purchase sodas in one serving 8-ounce cans (containing 97 calories), but gradually they morphed into one and a half serving 12-ounce cans (containing 145 calories) and finally into the two and a half serving 20-ounce bottles (containing 242 calories) that we know today. And who are we kidding if we deny drinking the entire 20-ounces at one time? When McDonald’s began serving hamburgers in 1955, their burgers weighed an average of 1.6 ounces. Today, a regular burger weighs 8 ounces – a 500% increase! In addition to the ability to “super-size” regular menu offerings, we can now order Big Macs, Triple Whoppers, and Colossal Burgers.
It’s no wonder obesity rates among adults have doubled between the years of 1980-2008 and tripled for children, as well as an increase in heart disease, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. Our perception of a regular portion size has been gradually distorted to automatically accept what is being served to us as being healthy, and as Americans, we want more value for our money, so we think bigger is better without considering the ramifications of overeating.
While we can’t carry around measuring cups and scales to accurately portion our foods in public, there is an easy rule of thumb to follow: protein (meat) portions should be the size of the palm of your hand – not counting your fingers, starch (pasta, rice, cereal) and fruit and vegetable portions should be about the size of a clenched fist, and fat (butter, mayo, salad dressings) portions should equal the size of the top of your thumb. Another way to control portions is to think about your dinner plate being divided into quarters. One quarter for protein, one quarter for starches, and the other half for fruits and/or vegetables. Nothing should be heaped up or crowding each other.
Portion control can make or break weight loss efforts so don’t be embarrassed to share meals with someone or to request that half of your meal be boxed up “to go.” Be conscious of what goes into your body and be accountable for controlling your health and well-being.
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