Portions, Portions, Portions! If you are plugged in to nutrition at all, you probably read a different article about portions every day. But, do you pay attention? Or, for you dietitians, do you struggle to get your clients to pay attention? Portions are a very important part of any diet. However, for most of the fad diets that exist today, it’s the element that is given the least amount of attention. Or, for many, the expectations on portions are so completely unrealistic that it’s impossible to continue to practice what you’ve learned once you’ve reached your goal weight and stop ‘dieting’ in the literal sense of the word.
Between the common plate sizes in America growing as fast as our waistlines and restaurant portion sizes increasing in size to try to get ahead in their competitive market, we’re paying the price with rising obesity and diabetes rates. Did you know that the average household dinner plate has grown to 12 inches? Yet the appropriate size is 9 inches. So, here’s a tip that can make bringing your portions back under control very simple: instead of serving dinner on your dinner plates, serve them on your smaller salad plates. These plates present a much more realistic size for serving up correct portions for your family. You’ll be amazed at how satisfied you can be when you eat your dinner on these smaller plates. You’ll still get the satisfaction of cleaning your plate. However, you most likely won’t have eaten larger portions than you should.
So, we’ve made it easier to serve the correct portion sizes at home, now what are you supposed to do when you’re out to eat? I’m sure you’ve heard this tip before; cut your meal in half and put it in a take-out box before you even begin your meal. This is a great tip and can really help you control your portion sizes when eating out. But, it’s not always a great “across the board” kind of rule. There are some restaurants that serve appropriate portions. So, how are you supposed to gauge your portion size here? (BTW – This tip is great at any restaurant… whether you think the portion sizes are correct or not) Start by asking the server to bring an empty salad plate out with your meal. When you get the salad plate, visualize the MyPlate image sitting on your plate. Begin moving the meal from your dinner plate over to the salad plate, making sure to consider your portions in reference to MyPlate. By doing this, you’re fixing two big problems in restaurant servings; 1) the size of plate that your food is served on, and 2) the skewed proportions of grains and protein compared to fruits and vegetables served. Once your salad plate is full and closely reflects MyPlate, then you know you’ve got a correctly portioned meal while you’re out to eat. Take the rest and set it aside or put it in a to-go box to enjoy later.
Don’t feel like guessing? NCES has created Right-Size Portion Plates for Kids and Adults. So, whether you’re looking to take control of your own health or your entire family, we’ve got the plate for you! These plates are great for use at home. Or, they can be used as an easier tool than the salad plate while you’re out to eat. Use the links above to view each plate.
We all know that proper portion sizes are important. The struggle is having the time to focus on each plate that we fill, making sure that it contains the perfect amount of food from each food group. That’s where we come in! We want to make sure that your plate is full of all the nutrients that you need, and is void of the empty calories that don’t provide your body with any nutritional value.
There are many resources available to us today to educate ourselves on proper nutrition and serving sizes. Right here at NCES, we recently launched our “Right-Sized Portion” line of products, including plates and tearpads. These products make it fun and easy to fill your plate with the right foods.
The American Dietetic Association also offers many great resources for helping us learn how to live healthier lives. A lot of these great resources are available year-round. Because March is National Nutrition MonthTM, they have many extra resources available at no cost. We love their interactive nutrition games. Last week on Facebook, we mentioned the “Rate Your Plate” game. This game provides a fun, interactive way to understand more about how the choices you make when filling your plate affect your overall nutrition. If you haven’t had a chance to play yet, be sure to go check out “Rate Your Plate”, as well as all the other great games, today!
Proper nutrition is very important, and should be an important part of your daily life. At NCES, we have an on-staff dietitian who is always here to answer your questions. So, whenever you have questions about living healthy, be sure to visit www.ncescatalog.com and “Chat with our Dietitian”, give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Don’t force the issue. When people choose healthy foods, but don’t choose ones that they enjoy eating, they are simply setting themselves up to want those foods they are avoiding even more.
- Eat what appeals to you. In order to really enjoy what you’re eating, stop preventing yourself from eating what you really love. If you stop beating yourself up for eating that brownie, you’ll eventually start eating healthy foods because you want them, instead of having to eat them.
- Abandon the low-fat versions you don’t like. If you hate fat-free dressing, just eat the “light” version, and decide to cut out fat somewhere else in your diet. Cut fat in areas where you don’t notice the taste difference or where the result is worth the effort.
- Balance is good. Eat what you enjoy and know that weight control and good nutrition can be achieved by eating a combination of high and low-calorie foods.
- Be careful of resenting your nutritious choices. If you constantly force yourself to eat healthy foods in place of what you really want, you’re just setting yourself up to hate nutrition and desire unhealthy foods more.
- Think positive. Be uplifting when you think about your food choices. Instead of berating yourself for forgetting to eat vegetables one day, just make a plan to make the next day healthy and delicious so that you enjoy it that much more. Nutrition doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice what you enjoy.
Check out our website (www.ncescatalog.com) and catalog for other great resources and ideas!