Portion Sizes - How Much is Enough?

Published by FitWatch

Most of us don’t think about it much, but food portion sizes have grown way out of control.  When you eat out at a restaurant, have you noticed the heaping plateful of food they deliver to your table?  It’s enough to feed three or four people, not just one. 

This may not sound like a bad thing to you, because most of us love to eat.  Give us lots and lots of food and we feel secure and comforted.  It’s an emotional thing.

The problem is that our bodies are NOT comforted by all this food - they are being overloaded with far too many calories, and this is true even when we eat at home.  We’ve gotten used to eating such large quantities of food that we believe it takes that much to satisfy us, but more often than not much less will do.

Here are the recommended serving sizes according to the USDA: Fruit - 1/2 cup Vegetables - 1/2 cup (1 cup for leafy vegetables like lettuce) Meat - 2 to 3 oz. (1 cup cooked beans) Grains - 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of rice, pasta or cereal Dairy - 1 cup milk, 1 1/2 ounces of cheese, or 1 cup of yogurt

The USDA recommends 6 to 11 servings of grains, 2 to 3 servings of meat or beans, 2 to 3 servings of dairy products, 2 to 4 servings of fruit, and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables daily.  Exactly how many servings your body needs will depend on many factors, including your age, gender, current weight, activity level, and whether you are pregnant or nursing.

See:  7 Things You Need to Know About Serving Sizes

However, even without measuring your portions, your body will let you know when it’s had enough to eat - but you have to pay attention, and this requires a bit of practice.  Most often it’s a very subtle feeling of satisfaction, as if your body was saying, “There, I feel better now, you can stop eating.”  Most of us don’t notice this feeling because we’re focusing on our dinner conversation or the television, or we simply want to keep eating because the food tastes good. 

Needless to say, eating more food than your body needs makes it impossible to lose weight.

See:  Calorie Deficit Calculator

If you believe that your food portions are too big, try measuring them and compare that to how much you usually eat.  You can also practice paying closer attention to how your body feels as you eat.  When you feel that inner “click” as your body indicates it has had enough, stop eating. 

No matter how you do it, strive for a gentle feeling of contentment after eating - not being excessively full.

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