Weight Loss Without Special Diets
by Paul Blustein
The News...It Isn't Easy Ordering "Small" Portions
Whatever happened to "small?" Notice how everything today is huge - including food portions? There are mega-meal deals, mega muffins, mega beverages or submarine sandwiches that could count as four standard servings of bread. The problem is that the huge portions served up at restaurants, delis, and in packaged foods suggest that the amount is a standard serving. In fact, these mega-portions are often three to four times larger than standard serving sizes recommended by nutritionists.
Think of it this way: a portion is what you are served or what you choose to eat at a meal or a snack. A serving size is a standard, measuring unit used by health authorities to describe recommended food choices. Different units are used to describe a serving size -- cups, ounces, slices, pieces. A serving size often reflects a food's nutrient profile or how it fits with recommended dietary guidelines. A portion reflects your personal preference for a particular food and can differ considerably from the standard serving size recommended to help meet caloric and nutrient needs for a healthy body. For example, the Food Guide Pyramid suggests a range in the number of servings from each of the five major food groups -- grains, veggies, fruits, dairy, meat/fish/poultry. This range is based on caloric needs. Eating too many servings -- or too large a serving -- from any of the food groups of the Food Guide Pyramid can lead to an excess of calories.
The serving units for each food group of the Food Guide Pyramid (ounces for meat or cups for milk) are "nutritional serving sizes" in that they specify the amount of the food that provides similar amounts of the key nutrients for that food group. The foods within food groups, however, can differ in calories. For example, a Food Guide Pyramid serving for milk is 1 cup and the amount of calcium varies little whether you choose whole, skim or nonfat milk. The calorie level, however, differs considerably. This is where the Nutrition Facts label can help.
The Nutrition Facts label helps you compare similar products within the same food category and is based on the amount of food usually eaten at one time. This information helps you compare different foods within the same food category -- comparing low-fat to whole milk, for instance -- using consumer-friendly household measures such as cups, pieces, and fluid ounces. Eating twice the specified serving results in twice the nutrients -- as well as twice the calories. Now here is an area that we all can control. We all watch all the many chefs out there on TV and how they just grab with their fingers a dash of this at that and they repeat those dashes. I am one of them. GULP! Too many dashes also contribute to the calories that we take in.
For You. . . Be Size Wise
Portion size matters because portion size is one way you can control calorie intake while eating for overall health.
Here are some tips to help you be size-wise.
Use familiar objects to help you visualize the recommended serving size that helps meet nutrient needs without exceeding caloric requirements. Be size-wise especially when you eat out. Order from the appetizer menu, share an entree, or ask for a doggie bag. It's your money, and your health.
Familiar Object Equals One Serving Size
According to the Food Guide Pyramid...
...Compare these serving sizes with familiar objects so you can get a better idea on how large of how large or small a portion should be.
- An ice cream scoop equals 1/2 cup cooked pasta.....
- A baseball equals a small whole fruit such as an apple or orange.....
- A tube of lipstick equals 1 1/2 ounces of cheese....
- A golf ball equals 2 tablespoons peanut butter....
- A deck of cards equals 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry.
So, what point are we really trying to drive home? Basically, it all boils down to an old saying, "do you want to live to eat, or do you want to eat to live?"
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