All about portion control

WELL_Portions_Pasta_0410

When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, how much we eat is as important as what is on the plate. Unless you carry around a scale or measuring cup, portion size can get out of control.

“The eye easily gets tricked. Most people need a serving size reality check,” says Nicolette M. Pace, R.D., the founder of NutriSource Inc., which specializes in nutrition-based disease prevention and treatment.

We asked Pace for some easy visual identifiers for common foods that we often oversize.

Rice
Portion size: 1/3 cup
“Two-thirds is about the size of a tennis ball, so, half a tennis ball.”

Pasta
Portion size: 1/3 cup
“With pasta it depends on type, but [aim for] about the size of a large computer mouse.”

Chips
Portion size: 15 chips
“Count them. Most people eat double or triple an individual serving size. Look at the label. Even small bags have two to three servings.”

Chocolate
Portion size: 1 ounce
“A portion is about the size of three chocolates from a box.”

Chicken
Portion size: 3 ounces
“That is the recommended amount and that looks like a deck of cards. For a larger person to feel satisfied the amount might be more like two-decks.”

French fries
Portion size: 10 fries
“It’s horrible — it’s like nothing. But you’re dehydrating the potato and replacing the water with fat.”

Bread
Portion size: 3 ounces
“It depends on density, but for heavy bread like ciabatta, that’s about the size of a smart phone, and maybe a TV remote for a baguette.”

Don’t go crazy
Can we eat as big a portion of low calorie vegetables as we want?
“Yes and no,” says Pace. “Calorie-wise, it’s probably fine, though some vegetables like peas have higher carb values. The real danger lies in stomach capacity. The stomach holds about a quart, but you can stretch it to a gallon. If you continually stretch it then it begins to need larger portions to feel satisfied.”


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