The Power of Portion Control: How to Cinch up Weight Gain

 In Mind and spirit, Nutrition information

I was just out to dinner with my family and I ordered a glass of wine.   The server asked me, “Would you like the 6oz. pour or the 8oz. pour?” Wow, it seems like a great idea- then I don’t have to order a second glass… um, but is that a good thing, Jen? I was at OrangeLeaf with my kids last week and, as some of you may know who follow me on FB and Twitter, I have been appalled by the “large” and “larger” cups that hold 2 Cups and 4 Cups of frozen yogurt. I posted that a serving size of yogurt is a ½ cup, which is the size of a tennis ball, (a bit smaller). I was ecstatic to hear from the OrangeLeaf employee that the company is now going to offer 8oz. cups. My kids… not as thrilled as it will be harder to sneak in extra. What is my point in mentioning serving sizes? This American concept of “generous” portions can sabotage weight maintenance and self-regulation. My husband and kids roll their eyes when I complain about the “generous” double scoop of ice cream when I order a baby cone. Why do I grumble? Because, if it is there, tastes good, I’m most likely going to eat the whole thing! It is challenging to self regulate with yummy, comfort things. This “generosity of portions” creates a food environment conducive to over indulgence and obesity.

As you know, food has calories and too many calories can tip the energy balance scale and cause weight gain. If you lead a healthy lifestyle and do not overindulge often, chances are you will not see big weight fluctuations. However, as the billion-dollar weight loss industry can attest to, many of us are not so fortunate. These episodes of being “over-served” can lead to calorie surplus in the scale department. As I always tout, awareness is the first step. Many of us are not even aware of what a serving size is of certain foods. Have you ever been to a dinner party where your wine glass is never empty?  The gracious host keeps refilling it before it ever gets finished? Then you wonder how you feel so bad, so foggy the next day because you “only had 1, maybe 2 glasses”? Ha- more like 3-4 glasses thanks to your gracious host. My point- if you are not aware of how many servings you have had, how can you be aware of where the pounds are sneaking in from? In Dr. Oz’s Magazine (September 2015), he had a piece on 5 Foods We’re All Overeating. This was one of the impetuses for this blog as I see it all the time, both in myself and in clients. It is easy to overindulge in foods- especially when they are supposed to be “good for us”. The foods we are overeating, according to Libby Mills, M.S., R.D.N and Erin Pallinski-Wade, R.D., in their book, Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, are: Olive oil, Almonds, Dark Chocolate, Whole Wheat Pasta and Wine. Here are a few of my favorite things and their recommended portion sizes. Enjoy, but stick to the recommended portion.

  • Wine = 4oz. serving (Just smaller than a tennis ball size)
  • Nuts= 1 oz. (a small palm full or large Thumb size)
  • Olive oil= 1-2 tsp. (Fingertip size)
  • Dark Chocolate= 1oz. or 3-4 squares.
  • Whole grains= 6-8oz cooked (a fist size)
  • Fresh Fruit= 6-8oz. (a fist size)
  • Ice Cream/ Frozen Yogurt= ½ cup or 4oz. (just smaller than a tennis ball size)
  • Meat= 3oz. (size of the palm or deck of cards)
  • Nut Butter= 1 Tbsp. (Thumb size)
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