Updated: Jul 19
Did you know the average portion size today is nearly double what it was 20 years ago?
That means that "mini" bagel you see on the shelf is actually a single serving portion size and the bagel we now call "standard size" is actually jumbo boasting 2-3 servings... and if there is a "jumbo size," it's likely triple or more than the standard serving. Yikes! And this same bump in portion sizes has happened to beverages too. Most beverages today contain 2 - 3 servings, at around 140 - 300 calories a pop. And all those extra calories really add up.
No wonder more and more people are struggling to maintain a healthy waistline and feeling challenged to make healthy choices. Sadly, many of us could be eating double or triple a true single portion size, without even realizing it.
How can you set yourself up for healthy eating success?
First, start looking closely at nutrition labels and notice how many servings are in the item you are about to consume, including the amount of portions labeled as one serving.
Next, use some of these simple tricks to make healthy eating and creating healthier portions simple and fun!
Tips for creating a healthy portioned plate:
Notice where your calories are going.
Remember the divided plates you had as a kid? How about the cafeteria lunch trays that create a space for each food group. Bring it back to basics at home by dividing your plate into appropriate portions of proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. When you know how much room to give to each food group you are more likely to create a well balanced plate with healthier food choices.
Add a pop of color.
Studies show when people eat from colorful plates (vs. the boring white or beige) they actually feel happier and more fulfilled by what they are consuming. Wait, doe that mean healthy eating can be fun? Yes! Try adding your salad to a small orange plate, pouring a serving of soup in a bright red bowl, or dishing up that lean protein on nice a blue plate. When you mix and match your dinnerware you actually stimulate the senses, increasing satisfaction for mind and body.
Plate size matters.
Did you know the average dinner plate used to be 9" in diameter? Today we are serving up our meals on plates ranging from 12 - 16". This creates two problems, 1) You feel the need to fill the plate, and 2) If you were to serve appropriate food portions, you might feel dissatisfied and deprived simply by looking at your plate. Solution? Opt for the smaller plate (such as a now toted "salad" plate is often good size), or if you prefer something larger, opt for something with a wide and decorative rim so the plate surface itself is smaller. Now you can load up your plate, and seeing that full plate will trigger feelings of satisfaction and happiness, which is key for the brain and stomach connection too. You will find you feel satisfied, rather than deprived and hungry.
Late night snacking is sneaky. You sit down in front of the computer, television or on the patio visiting with friends and before you know it a little craving strikes. Instead of reaching for a whole bag of popcorn, chips, cookies, or grabbing that pint of ice cream out of the freezer, portion out a single serving of that go-to snack. Small bowls, snack size plates, and/or ramekins that range from 1/2 C to 1 C portions sizes are great for setting out small snacks. And when you get to the bottom of the serving, stop.
Keep it simple.
Have a busy day of errands or back to back meetings? Be ready with some "power food" combinations to keep your energy up as you move through the day! Try unsalted nuts mixed with some dried fruit in a snack size ziplock bag, an apple with some nut butter, sliced veggies with hummus, or some whole grain crackers with a single serving of low fat cheese. Having healthy snacks in ready-to-go portion sized containers (such as snack size ziplocks and single serving containers) is a great way to support healthy habits on busy days.
Plan for fun.
Before you walk into the next bbq, happy hour, or dinner party, consider your options. A quick overview of the food and beverage choices will help you decide what you really want to indulge in as well as shine light on the healthier alternatives. Decide what you want to enjoy most and select those foods in appropriate portion sizes, then fill the remainder of your plate with fruits and veggies. After you have enjoyed your tasty bites, put the focus back on the experience, visiting with friends and family and enjoying the fun atmosphere. When you enjoy a few favorites in realistic portions and then turn your attention to why you are there (to visit with and enjoy the company of others) you will find you feel more satisfied and less tempted to overindulge.
Pro tip: the next time you are headed to a social gathering whip up a healthy dish to share. Not only is this a great way to support your own healthy eating goals, but you can share the gift of health with others too! I have found this to be a great way to help the hostess, offering support by bringing a fun dish, and it is a great way to share the healthy food love with others. Not sure where to start? Check out the healthy eating section of my blog.
Think before you drink.
Beverages go down fast and many are laden with empty calories, sugars and salt. Alcoholic drinks are some of the worst offenders - some mixed drinks can run as high as 1,500 calories per drink! Cut down on empty calories by diluting the drink down with a bit of bubbly water or club soda. And for every cocktail, drink a glass of plain old water. It will slow down your consumption and also fill you up so you are less likely to overindulge.
Bring bling to boring old water with some fun fruits, spices or veggies. They are full of fresh flavor and loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals too. I find their "pretty" to be a great conversation piece at parties and most people love to have a healthy habit and low cal alternative that tastes just as great (and sometimes better). Play with creativity and try tossing together some fun seasonal fruits. And bonus, any leftovers you have can be used as a healthy snack later.
> > > To get a copy of my FREE Eat Your Way Healthy Guide, complete with personalized portion sizes and healthy eating tips, click here now!
Are you a busy man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy folks go for tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!