The Truth About The Portion Control Problem

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By : dLife Editors

By: Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

You’ve probably heard it before: Watch your portion sizes. But do you consistently pay close attention?

Portion size awareness is important for everyone with diabetes. Whether you’re counting carbohydrates to dose insulin or controlling portions to lose weight (or both), keeping portion sizes down can help control blood glucose levels and is usually crucial to weight loss.

Let’s first look at the growth of portion sizes in the United States.

Americans typically are typically served in large portions. When you dine out, it’s not uncommon to see large pasta dishes that look like they are meant to be shared by the whole table. And most people, when given a large portion, find themselves eating from it.

The truth is, Americans have gotten used to abnormally large portion sizes and now think they are normal.

And studies have confirmed that U.S. food portions far exceeded the accepted standards.

The largest excesses in portion sizes, when compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards, were found in store-bought cookies, muffins, and bagels, with an average muffin exceeding the USDA standard muffin size by over 300 percent.

Large bagels can be equivalent to eating 4 slices of bread and can contain a whopping 60 grams of carbohydrate or more.

Fast food restaurant portion sizes have also grown with larger servings of soda, French fries, and burgers — portions measuring two to five times larger than their originals.

In the mid-1950s, McDonald’s only offered one size of French fries, which is now considered small and is one-third the weight of the largest size available in the early 2000s.

Not surprisingly, this growth in portion sizes in the U.S. has been parallel to the rising level of obesity.

Eating large amounts, even of healthy foods, can lead to excessive carbohydrate or calorie intake, and this can get in the way of weight management and blood glucose control. Many people don’t even realize the amounts they are eating.

Try to be more conscious of normal portion sizes during the holidays and year round.

Here are some healthy portion habits

1.    Aim to eat something from at least three food groups per meal to help increase satisfaction and help prevent overeating from one food group.
2.    Measure portion sizes of high-carb foods that are easy to overeat, such as cooked rice, pasta, and cereal. Doing this several times will let you see what a proper portion looks like on your plate or bowl and help you learn to properly estimate carbohydrate content.
3.    Purchase single-serving items or choose snacks that come pre-portioned such as ready to eat sugar-free pudding, sugar-free popsicles.
4.    Avoid mindless eating in front of the computer or television. Be fully aware of eating while you eat!
5.    Never eat out of a bag, box, or jar. When snacking on salty foods, make sure to portion out your serving and put it on a plate or in a bowl. This will help control your portion sizes.
6.    Still hungry? Choose more low-carb veggies such as salad vegetables, green beans, asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, or cauliflower.  Most Americans’ portions of these foods are too small!

Updated by dLife Editors 12/18.