In today’s food culture of supersized everything, many of us have lost track of how much food is too much food. In your average store, there are colossal 32-ounce Monster Energy Drinks available for sale and massive Hungry Man TV dinners, some of which have a whopping 900+ calories per serving. Even at your neighborhood Starbucks we see the super-sizing taking place, as the coffee chain recently released its 31-ounce Trenta size for iced coffees and teas, putting the Venti to shame.
You can see how it would get difficult to get a grip on reality when it comes to knowing how much food is appropriate, so I set out to find how much of certain foods is healthy.
First, however, it helps to have a strategy in place for practicing portion control. Try using smaller plates, bowls and glasses to regulate how much you eat at home, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Also, by filling up half of your plate with veggies and fruits, you help yourself reduce the amount of calorie-laden starches, meats and sweets you consume, the ADA remarks. At restaurants, try sharing an entre with a friend or family member or take half your meal home in a to-go box, the CDC recommends. After all, most restaurant portions are far more than the average adult needs in a single meal. Another good tip is to keep a healthy snack on hand such as a piece of fruit, a serving of black beans or a handful of nuts for in between meals to take the edge off your hunger. This helps keep you from eating too much too fast at regular meals.
Now, let’s start with portion control of meat, typically the favorite thing on the plate for your average enthusiastic carnivore. The appropriate portion size for most meats is the size of a deck of cards, or the size of a checkbook if we’re talking about fish. So if you have visions of a steak covering three-quarters of your plate, you should probably share that T-bone with your spouse or a friend instead of gobbling it all down by yourself. Fill up instead on veggies, whole grains and other essential foods to complete your meal.
The next thing to think about is mixed foods, such as spaghetti & meatballs and cassaroles. Many people fill up their plate with foods like this and call it a meal. In reality, this should take up at most a half of your plate, depending on the calorie count, and your meal is likely incomplete without the addition of veggies.
Last but certainly not least, we look to the most overlooked food group veggies. The traditional USDA food pyramid suggests healthy adult men and women should eat between 2 to 4 cups (or more) of veggies a day. By one cup, the pyramid is talking about raw or cooked vegetables or veggie juice. For leafy greens, which are very important to a healthy diet, 2 cups of raw leafy greens constitute one cup in terms of the food pyramid, the USDA explains. Most people try to get by with a salad consisting largely of iceberg lettuce, but consider that iceberg lettuce has very small amounts of most nutrients with the exception of fiber, so sub in or mix in spinach, arugula and other greens in your serving of leafy greens. Remember: people are generally at less of a risk of overdoing it with vegetables than meats, breads, or desserts. I’ve learned from personal experience that your digestive system will let you know when you’ve had too many veggies and fruits!
Guest Author: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online college. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.