Hi friends! I hope your day is off to a great start. I’m on the road with the hub again one last time before a become slightly more grounded in just a few weeks (more on that later!).
Today I want to talk about something that seems to effect us all, myself included: portion sizes. While food quality is certainly important, you can eat “health foods” all day long and still gain weight as long as you’re eating too large of portion sizes. When I first went vegetarian a few years ago, I actually gained weight because of this very issue. Instead of eating meat, I found myself reaching for a handful of nuts and a scoop (or three or four!) of nut butter here and there, which began to add up to quite a few additional calories everyday. At the time, I wasn’t aware that one serving of peanut butter (= 2 tbsp) had close to 200 calories! And when it came to the peanut butter dipping for my apples, I was reaching for much more than one “serving”!
It’s hard to think about food in proper serving sizes, especially we’re your hungry. And it’s even harder to think about it when we learn that one serving of pasta is equal to 1/3 – 1/2 of a cup (cooked!). Seriously? Who eats 1/3 – 1/2 a cup of pasta when they eat spaghetti? Not me! Cup your hand and look at your palm… that’s equal to approximately 90 calories before the oil, sauce, cheese and meat. See how quickly it adds up?
So why does this matter anyway?
Large portion sizes are the leading cause of weight gain. We live in a land of excess not only in our restaurants anymore but in our own kitchens now too. We are buying cheap food, eating it until we are sick, and still seeing malnutrition frequently because of the lack of nutrition present in the food that we are choosing. Most people would never associate overweight with malnutrition, but in fact, that is where it is observed the most. Weight has little to do with malnutrition actually. An overweight person who eats a diet high in processed food and low in fruits and vegetables can be at just as large of a risk for malnutrition as an anorexic that doesn’t consume adequate nutrition either.
When it comes to portion sizes we tend to think that a little bit more here or there doesn’t really matter… until we think about it this way: just 100 extra calories per day for one year will result in a 10 pound weight gain throughout that year. It adds up quickly!
Here are a few easy ways to remember measurement equivalents:
- 1 tsp = tip of your finger
- 1 tbsp = pad of your thumb
- 1/4 cup = size of a large egg
- 1/2 cup = cupped hand
- 1 cup = tennis ball
Because I believe that the only way we can make a change is through education, take a look at what an actual serving really looks like. Here’s a chart from Prevention.com that makes it a little bit easier to remember:
- At home, use measuring cups, measuring spoons or PortionMate (detailed below) for a few weeks (or longer if needed) to see the difference in what is accurate compared to what you normal eat.
- When eating food with a label, be sure to read the label to determine how many servings are in the particular food.
- When dining out, it is safe to assume that you are being served at least double the portion size that you actually need. As soon as your server brings out your dish ask that they also bring out a to-go box to take half of your meal home for a later meal.
- ‘Like’ The Gypsy Dietitian on Facebook as well as subscribe in the top right corner above (if you already have, awesome!)
- Leave a comment below telling us about the food that you tend to over estimate portion sizes the most. For me, it’s definitely pasta!
Have an awesome day!