The United States has the highest proportion of overweight adults of any country, to the tune an estimated 160 million American adults who can be classified as overweight or obese. That sounds like a startlingly high number, but when you consider the overall culture of American eating, it’s not that surprising.
In America, large food portion sizes are celebrated by television shows, Instagram posts, and online videos. People consider it a point of pride to be able to finish an oversized pizza or a towering burger.
Even in fine dining restaurants, the amount of food that makes up a single portion can be staggering.
Those who are looking to maintain a healthy and balanced diet should start by evaluating the portion of food they are eating at each meal. Below, we’re detailing what you need to know about portion control and why it’s important. Read on to learn more.
1. Most Restaurant Portions are Too Large
For adults trying to maintain a healthy diet, a typical meal should contain 700 calories or less. When you’re preparing your meals at home, staying within that limit is an achievable goal because you control the ingredients you’re using and the amount of food you serve. You can easily keep your calorie count within reason.
At restaurants, things get tricky. Even dishes that seem healthy on the menu could have been prepared with unhealthy ingredients you don’t know about. And because you’re given so much food as part of one serving, you could be consuming well beyond the recommended calorie count.
To combat this, ask as many questions as possible. Don’t be shy about asking if a sauce is made with butter or if you can swap a heavy ingredient–like a creamy salad dressing–for a lighter one.
You can also ask your waiter to bring you a to-go box at the same time they bring out your meal. Box half of it up right away, and put it underneath your chair. You can still enjoy all the popular foods you love but you’ll eat less in one sitting, and you’ll have a meal for later.
2. A Portion is Different Than a Serving
The confusion between what a portion size is versus what a serving size is could lead to unnecessary overeating. Just because something is one serving does not always mean it’s one portion.
A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at any given time, while a serving describes the amount of food listed on the manufacturer’s nutrition label. Serving sizes range across products and brands.
Just because a package lists one serving as one cup doesn’t mean that you should be eating an entire cup of that food with your meal.
3. Your Plate Size Matters
Believe it or not, controlling your weight could be as easy as buying new plates. If your home is full of large dinner plates, it’s natural to cook and eat the amount of food that will fill the plate. You probably do it without thinking about it.
If the plate that you were trying to fill were smaller, you would have less food in front of you each time you sat down to eat. It may seem like a simple solution but, in practice, it could be a very powerful tool for portion control.
Ready to Consider Food Portion Sizes?
Most of the time when we go out to eat, we don’t think to question the amount of food we are given. When you’re paying for a meal, you start to think that the more food you get, the better the value.
In reality, controlling your food portion sizes can benefit you so much more. You’ll maintain a healthier and more balanced diet while eating out, and those good habits can carry over to home cooking too.
For more information about restaurant eating, please contact us at any time.