Food is fuel for your body, not a form of recreation. Food gives you the energy you need to be able to enjoy the other activities in life. Think about comparing your body to your car. You fill up your car’s gas tank when it is empty, not when it is full. So, don’t eat for reasons other than hunger. Take our portion-control quiz to find out if you struggle with portion distortion.
If your car has a 15-gallon tank, you can’t put 20 gallons in it unless you expand the gas tank. So, eat only the amount of fuel your body needs for energy, or unfortunately, your tank will expand. The extra fuel you put in your body gets stored in a reserve tank commonly known as body fat.
A portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package or in your own kitchen. Do you know the correct portion size of the following foods?
Portion Control Quiz
Take this eight-question quiz to find out how well you know appropriate portion sizes. Answers can be found at the end of this article.
- A serving of hard cheese is the size of:
a. The tip of your thumb
b. Three dominoes
c. Two hard candies
- How many green grapes are in a serving?
- What does a serving of pancakes look like?
a. One 4″ pancake
b. One 6″ pancake
c. Two 5″ pancakes
- How many strawberries are in a serving?
- How many baby carrots are in a serving?
- How many French fries are in a serving?
- A serving of fish most closely looks like:
a. A deck of cards
b. A checkbook
c. A candy bar
- A serving of ice cream most closely resembles:
a. A tennis ball
b. An egg
c. A lightbulb
Eight Tips to Avoid Overeating
As a general rule, one serving of anything is the size of your palm or about the size of a closed fist. A normal meal should consist of about three to four ounces of lean protein, which is about the size of your palm, and one cup of complex carbohydrates, which is about the size of a closed fist. Then the rest of your plate can be full of low carbohydrate vegetables.
Do you eat too much sugar? What would happen to your car if you filled your gas tank with sugar? It wouldn’t run well or perhaps not at all. For your body to run well and efficiently, it needs real food, not excess sugar. So, instead of eating desserts and sweet treats, opt for a serving of fresh fruit. If you must have something sweet, ask for the smallest portion or share it with a friend.
Here are eight tips to remember about overeating and how to avoid it:
#1 — It’s not just what but also how much.
Overeating is one of the main reasons that people become overweight and obese. Controlling weight calls for more than just choosing a healthy variety of foods. It also calls for looking at how much and how often you eat.
#2 — Focus on calories needed for healthy weight maintenance.
The average woman needs up to 2,000 calories a day for weight maintenance, and the average man needs 2,500 calories.
#3 — Weight gain is usually gradual.
Often, the scale creeps up one pound here or there, resulting in steady weight gain over a period of years.
#4 — Understand the difference between portion size and serving size.
A serving size is the amount of food listed on the product’s nutrition facts. Sometimes, the portion size and serving size match; sometimes they do not. Keep in mind that the serving size on the nutrition facts is not a recommended amount of food to eat.
#5 — Make it count.
Don’t just guess. Count out, weigh, or measure the portion. Use a portion size guide to help when eating out. Try this handy one from WebMD>>
#6 — Go small.
Instead of eating from larger dinner plates, use smaller plates and cups.
#7 — Keep it on the stove.
Plate food from the stove rather than serving family style to help prevent portion distortion.
#8 — Keep things in perspective.
Remember to practice balance, variety and moderation when fueling your body, and it will operate like a finely tuned machine.
Need some help dealing with portion distortion? Mercy Weight Management is here for you. Learn more >>
Portion-control Quiz Answers
1. b. Three dominoes
2. b. 15 green grapes
3. a. One 4″ pancake
4. c. 5 strawberries
5. a. 6 baby carrots
6. a. 10 French fries
7. b. A checkbook
8. a. A tennis ball