One of the most important components of losing or maintaining your weight is watching the serving size of meals and snacks. While your diet should be mainly comprised of nutrient-dense low-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, paying attention to serving size allows you to eat a little of anything, including desserts and junk foods. You can have too much of a good thing if you’re not mindful of the portion size.
Calories Are Calories
The key to understanding weight loss is understanding calories. If you don’t understand calories, it’s easy to believe in common food misconceptions like eating fattening foods makes you fat. In reality, it all comes down to the idea of “calories in, calories out.” In order to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you take in. Taking in more calories than you expend will result in weight gain. This is where serving size comes in to play. If you eat a healthy and well-balanced diet most of the time, your weight will manage itself. However, realistically speaking, the average person isn’t disciplined enough to eat salads every day for lunch or snack on apple slices mid-afternoon. Most people grab a bite to eat from a restaurant or snack on the treats left in the office kitchen. The danger is that these kinds of meals and snacks aren’t a single portion size. You’re typically eating two or three times what you need!
Serving Size and Your Weight
Ever heard the saying, “There is no such thing as a bad food”? It’s true. While natural foods are certainly more preferable than processed junk foods or those high in calories and low in nutrients, consuming a small amount of junk food here and there isn’t going to make you pack on the pounds. It all comes down to serving sizes and moderation. Since large portions mean a larger calorie intake, and increased calorie intake is ultimately what makes you gain weight, cutting your portion sizes down can help you maintain or lose weight. Don’t fall into the “super size” trap. You don’t need a large serving of french fries or a cookie as large as your face. It’ll lead to weight gain.
Managing Serving Sizes
There are several things you can do to make sure you aren’t eating more than a single serving:
- Read labels. You’ll soon realize that bag of chips contains two and a half servings.
- Use smaller plates for meals. Cut that 12-inch plate down to a 9-inch plate. You can’t overload when your plate is smaller.
- Eat slowly. You’re more likely to consume the proper amount of food your body needs when you take time to enjoy your meal.
- When dining out, ask for a to-go box immediately. Most restaurant meals contain enough food for two or three people. Box up at least half of the meal immediately. Bonus: you get more bang for your buck!
- Split all treats. In the office, cut the morning donut and give part of it to your co-worker. Share your dessert with your dining partner.
It’s a fact: consuming larger serving sizes leads to weight gain. You can still enjoy your favorite foods if you keep the serving sizes small.