Tag Archives: portion control

The Portion Plate – Size Does Matter

I stumbled on this a while back. The Portion Plate looks kind of like a kid’s plate with the illustrations on it, playing cards, a cassette a CD, a baseball, but it is for adults. The Portion Plate gives graphic demonstrations of how big a serving should be. I think it is a great idea in this world that bombards us with super-sized servings of everything and totally distorting idea of proper portion sizes. This group sees portion sizes as “contributing to the obesity epidemic and putting roughly one-third of Americans at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers…”

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Pasta not fattening study reports

Good news for Italian food lovers everywhere! Research from I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, shows that, unlike popular beliefs, pasta consumption does not contribute to obesity; on the contrary: it is associated with a decrease in body mass index.

In recent years pasta gained a bad reputation: it will fatten you. This led lots of people to limit its consumption, often as part of some aggressive “do it yourself” diets. Now a study conducted by the Department of Epidemiology, I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, does justice to this fundamental element of the Mediterranean diet, showing how pasta consumption is actually associated with a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity.

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A typical bowl of pasta amounts to more than a single serving.

The research, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, examined over 23,000 people recruited in two large epidemiological studies: Moli-sani and INHES (Italian Nutrition & Health Survey), conducted by the same Department. “By analyzing anthropometric data of the participants and their eating habits – explains George Pounis, first author of the paper – we have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite. Our data show that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio.” Continue reading

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Eating in moderation

This post demonstrates the difficulty of trying weight control without the proper tools. For my money the number one tool in weight control is portion control and its corollary serving size. These are absolutes that can be followed by anyone willing to put in the effort.

Check out the following for more details on portion control

How to lose weight using portion control

Serving size and portion control – Keys to weight loss

A fresh look at portion control and portion distortion

How to lose weight using portion control

Tony

Focus on food safety

Pizza size is all in the eye of the beholder (Photo: Valerio Capello). Pizza size is all in the eye of the beholder (Photo: Valerio Capello).

In 1978, I visited the USA with two colleagues on a mission to study meat quality. After travelling by car for many hours to reach Texas we got very hungry and stopped at a pizza joint in Oklahoma. We had a choice of small, medium, large and very large pizzas. We settled on one medium each as one should eat in moderation, but huge pizzas each covering half of the table arrived. We couldn’t even eat half of the pizzas.

This highlights that there is no universal measure of eating in moderation.

What is moderation?

Eating in moderation seems to be practical advice for a healthy diet, but a new study suggests that it is an ineffective guide for losing or maintaining weight. The scientists found that the more people liked a food, the more flexible their definitions of moderation were. And who…

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The Six Best Doctors

I found this in my web wandering and fell in love with it. I don’t even know if it qualifies as an infographic.

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In the close to 7 years I have been writing this blog I find that a lot of the loose ends have been burned off. In the beginning it was all about losing weight, counting calories, measuring portions, etc. Now, while I am aware of calories and portions, my focus has shifted entirely to simply living healthy. I weigh in the mid 150 pound range where I have dwelt for around five years. I have total confidence that I can control my weight. I don’t try any more. I am simply doing it. Just like Yoda said, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

I don’t think you need expensive gym memberships or more expensive personal trainers to get control of your weight. You can do it.

This infographic, or set of pictures with captions, tells the whole story for me. Get outside, move, drink water, get enough sleep, eat intelligently and enjoy the sunshine.

I hope you can get it to work for you.

For the record: While I don’t use a personal trainer, I realize that they know a lot about exercise and can be very helpful. Also, I have a number of friends who do that for a living. If you feel you need one, by all means, use one.

Tony

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Portion Size From the Other Side of the Counter

Unfortunately, our ‘bargain-hunting’ hard-wiring seeks out large portions in restaurants, in a vain quest for the ‘most for my money.’

You’ve heard of ‘win-win.’ Well this is ‘win-lose.’ Getting too much food can be costly to our health not to mention our waistline, despite appearing to be a financial bargain.

Professional chefs regularly offer steaks double the size recommended by the USDA.

Professional chefs regularly offer restaurant goers steaks double the size recommended by the USDA.

The more successful you are at finding an eating place with huge portions, the more difficulty you will have keeping control of your weight and waistline. We all need to rethink the situation. Pigging out at a low price doesn’t make our trip to dine out a success. We need to start thinking in terms of the nutritional quality of our food not just the quantity. Continue reading

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How to Lose Weight Using Portion Control

I have run into a number of old friends over the course of the last year and each was surprised to see how thin I have become. In March of 2010, the beginning of this blog, I weighed 165 pounds which was my lowest and best weight in more than 20 years. I thought I had finally achieved weight control and my correct weight. Prior to that I weighed closer to 180 pounds.

This was my idea of a ‘serving’ of pasta. No wonder I was always overweight.

Over the course of the past couple of years, I have found out how very much I didn’t know about the subject. When we started the blog, I began reading about various weight loss techniques. One of the first I encountered was portion control and serving size. I was already counting calories, but I had no feeling at all for portion control. My idea of one serving was the amount I would serve myself. For example, pasta. I love pasta and eat it regularly. Prior to working on the blog, my idea of a serving of pasta was a plateful of it. (See photo).
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How to Measure the Perfect Portion Size – Infographic

One of the first and most important lessons I learned about weight control was Portion Size. Until I understood portion and serving size, I had no idea how to control my weight. I thought a serving of pasta was a heaping plate full. As you can see from the illustration, that is a far cry from accurate. Once you get a handle on how much food is a correct portion, you will be on your way to controlling your weight.

An example of portion size and serving size is the old bag of chips example. You pick up a bag of potato chips. Because you are paying attention to your weight, you check the calories on the back. It says something like 150 calories per serving. Not bad … but wait weight. A serving is one ounce. The bag weighs three ounces. So, you need to limit yourself to a third of the chips. Use a food scale, or your eye, or count them out, but if you eat the whole bag, you will consume 450 calories, not the 150 serving size. That’s how you combine serving size and portion size.

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Tony

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Serving Size and Portion Control – Keys to Weight Loss – Infographic

I hope you will take the time to study this infographic. There are loads of fascinating and useful facts and observations in it.

In my battle of the bulge, I found serving size and portion control to be the keys to my victory. Once you take charge of how much you are consuming, the battle is won. To continue on to robust good health, of course, you need to add regular exercise, too.

If you click on the illustration, you get an enlarged picture.

If you click on the illustration, you get an enlarged picture.

Tony

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A Graphic Guide to Food Portions – Infographic

In the more than five years I have been writing this blog, the single most important concept I have run across is Portion Control.

You have to get a handle on how much you are putting into your stomach if you want to have a chance at good nutrition and good health. The perfect partner to Portion Control is Serving Size. When you look at a snack package and read “150 calories per serving,” don’t get excited about eating it until you know how many servings are in it. If there are four servings in the package you need to realize that eating the whole package is a 600 calorie snack, not a 150 calorie one.

I like the visual examples in the info graphic. A three ounce serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards.

My Plate also gives a good breakdown of the proper proportions of veggies to fruits, grains, protein and dairy in a healthy diet.

My Plate Infographic

Tony

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Calories, but Were Afraid to Ask – Infographic

I ran across this Calorie infographic on the web and thought you might enjoy it as much as I did.

I like that it shows some activities and how many calories you burn per hour.

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Good Eating Habits Die Hard in Las Vegas

I have said elsewhere and written here time and again that I feel I have total confidence in my ability to maintain my current weight of 155 pounds, having done that for the last five years.

HOWEVER, that statement is based on the assumption that I am home and in total control of what I eat, preparing most of my own meals. Also, it assumes that I am able to ride my bike an average of about 20 miles a day. Clearly, that much exercise covers a multitude of sins.

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At the end of February I went with my girlfriend to Las Vegas to celebrate our second anniversary together. In this case, what happened in Las Vegas isn’t going to stay there.

First of all, I realized that I was going to be eating a lot of wonderfully prepared foods. That fact could be a big potential stumbling block for my weight control program. Secondly, no way was I going to be pedaling 20 miles a day on a bike. There are health clubs in the big hotels, HOWEVER, again, I am leery about exercising in Las Vegas. The altitude is 2500 feet above sea level and my body reacts poorly to that. I almost fell off an exercise bike a few years back after just 20 minutes of riding as a result of this altitude. The bottom line is that I limit my exercise to walking around casinos and sight seeing. Not a lot of calories burned that way.

So, I made a policy decision about eating. I was definitely going to enjoy indulging in the culinary fare available. After all, we were there to celebrate. I didn’t want to spoil it being a calorie cop. If I gained a pound or two in the five days we were there, so be it. I felt sure that I could burn them off once I got back home.

I am not going to bore you with pictures from the dozen or so meals
that we ate there. But, I have selected some dishes that I think represented our dining experiences over the period.

This was a pasta dinner at Rao's in Caesars Palace. Delicious meal on our first night.

This was a pasta dinner at Rao’s in Caesars Palace. Delicious meal.

The next day we ate at a little French cafe in Paris, our hotel. This sandwich is bacon and cheddar cheese melted on a croissant.

This was mouth watering and I have to believe it ran close to 1000 calories.

This was mouth wateringly delicious and I have to believe it ran close to 1000 calories.

We would have desserts at dinners, but split them rather than each go crazy with one.

I think this chocolate and whipped cream covered crepe came from another of the French restaurants in Paris.

I think this chocolate and whipped cream covered crepe came from another of the French restaurants in Paris.

Although we don’t usually do the buffets in Las Vegas because there is so much food on them, we did one on this trip. One of the entrees was crab legs.

Bucket of crab legs from the buffet.

Bucket of crab legs from the buffet.

Our anniversary was February 28 and we celebrated at Nobu in Caesars Palace. I have been eating sushi since I was first introduced to it in the mid-1970’s at a press party. I love it and eat it often. I can honestly say that in close to 40 years of eating sushi I have never experienced anything like the dishes at Nobu. I believe there are 35 of them in a number of cities all over the country. If you have a chance and a few extra dollars, I recommend a celebration dinner at one.

Beside being gorgeously laid out, this was literally melt in your mouth delicious.

Besides being gorgeously presented, this black cod was literally melt in your mouth delicious.

The final dish was our dessert at Nobu. I was so impressed with the way they decorated the plate.

This was some kind of melted chocolate pastry that simply exceeded my descriptive powers.

This was some kind of melted chocolate pastry that simply exceeded my descriptive powers.

Again, we split the dessert.

Just to fill in some details, we did go back to the little diner at Paris and I had their ham and gruyere croissant sandwich which was equally delicious and caloric.

This was another food court meal, a strawberry crepe with whipped cream. Again, we split it.

This was another food court meal, a strawberry crepe with whipped cream. Again, we split it.

 

The final night we went downtown to the Chicago Brewery and Pizza parlor in the Four Queens Hotel and Casino. We split a couple of pizzas and wrapped up the remainder to eat on the plane going home.

Okay, that should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of eating we did in four nights over five days in Las Vegas. Put your hand over the next paragraphs and guess – How much weight do you think I gained?

Full disclosure, I figured I had added about two pounds on the trip and I was committed to some serious biking and exercise upon return.

I hope you did as I did and made some kind of a guess about my weight. The following morning, I tipped the scale at … 155 pounds. Incredibly, I didn’t add a pound.

I can’t explain that. My girlfriend said it was because we walked so much, but at my weight walking a mile only burns around 90 calories. I don’t think we walked that many miles. But, the scale doesn’t lie.

The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t snack much between meals and we stuck to a regular schedule of meals. As I said at the top, “Good eating habits die hard.” I think I have become hard-wired to balance my intake and output. I didn’t get silly at a bunch of buffets and I didn’t fret at any point in the trip about what I was eating.

If you have any observations, I would be pleased to hear them.

Tony

I have written about trips to Las Vegas previously: Is it Possible to Enjoy Las Vegas and Control Your Weight? Thoughts on Aging in Las Vegas, What Happens in Las Vegas …”

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3 Portion Sizes That Pack on the Pounds – Infographic

One picture is worth a thousand words department. A look at how portion sizes have ballooned since the ’50s gives us a clue as to why 60 percent of us are overweight and 30 percent obese. Don’t let fast food portion sizes torpedo your weight control efforts. Eat less; move more.

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The graph and proportions are dramatic. Make sure you notice how the figures on the bottom have also expanded.

In my weight control experience, portion control and serving size are key concepts. To read further on portion control and serving size, check out my Page – How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off.

Tony

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A Quick Guide to Eating Sweets

Everyone enjoys sweet tastes. We are hard-wired that way, but we aren’t hunting and gathering to provide our nourishment any more. There is ample food for the majority of us. We just need to go to the market and pick it out. And, there’s the rub. Food manufacturers have found it very profitable to provide us with an assortment fit for royalty. Unfortunately, many of us respond like kids in a candy store on allowance day. That’s why we have 60 percent of us overweight, 30 percent obese and adult onset diabetes plaguing 15 year olds.

So, what to do? WebMD has some very helpful suggestions in its desserts quiz. “Eat slowly and savor the flavor. …” That is an excellent suggestion. So often, we get carried away in the tastes, that we forget to take our time and enjoy it. The more we learn to savor our food the healthier we will be eating.

A 150 pound man burns 100 calories for each mile he walks.

A 150 pound man burns 100 calories for each mile he walks.

“Put your fork down between bites so you don’t hurry. The first two bites of any dessert will seem the tastiest.” This is another great idea. We spend so much time hustling and bustling from here to there. We need to be reminded to actually sit down and eat.

WebMD asks the question which has the least calories per serving – a one inch square of fudge or a standard slice of angel food cake with a handful of strawberries, or a slice of lemon meringue pie.

Last but not least, it pays to understand portion control and serving size. In the above query, how many of us would choose the one inch square of fudge which comes in at only 70 calories. The angel food cake with strawberries amounts to 100 calories while the lemon meringue pie tips the scales at a robust 300 calories.

In terms of exercise, a man weighing 150 pounds burns around 100 calories for each mile he walks. So, a brief 3/4 mile walk would consume the fudge calories, while he would have to finish the mile for the strawberries. The 300 calories would need a three mile hike, or about 40 minutes to burn it off.

Buon Appetito!

Tony

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Super Weight Loss Tips from Tufts

Regular readers know that I used to be overweight with a lot of bad eating habits. At my worst, I weighed over 220 pounds with a waistline exceeding 44 inches. You can read how I made my first big successful swipe at that problem in How I lost 50 pounds in 52 weeks.

The past nearly five years of writing this blog has raised my level of awareness into the stratosphere as far as weight control and healthy eating are concerned. But I always go back to the first principles of portion control and serving size. Tufts offers some super suggestions that will bolster your weight loss efforts going forward.

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Below are a few tips to ensure that you’re eating the right portion amounts:

– Most restaurant portion sizes are at least double or triple the portion you should be eating. As soon as your meal arrives, cut it in half and box up the other half. Take it home to have for lunch the next day.

– Serve food on small plates. Instead of using a dinner plate, substitute a luncheon plate or a salad plate.

- When eating at home, put a small portion of food on your plate, and keep the rest of the food in the kitchen. Then, if you want to eat more, you’ll have to get up to get it.

– Read food labels. When a package says that it contains more than one serving, measure out one serving into a separate dish.

- Avoid eating in front of the TV or while reading. Instead, focus on the tastes, textures, and aromas of your food. This can keep you from mindlessly munching your way to the bottom of a bowl of popcorn or bag of chips.

– Listen to your body’s hunger cues. Pay attention to feelings of hunger and fullness.

This last point is excellent. Don’t eat for reasons other than hunger. A pint or Rocky Road ice cream will not solve your emotional turmoil.

For more information on the connection between the heart and brain, consider purchasing  Heart-Brain Diet: Essential Nutrition for Healthy Longevity by Tufts Medical Report.

I have written further on portion control: A fresh look at portion control and portion distortion, How to Use Portion Control in Weight Loss and Maintenance, Get A Food Scale for Portion Control, Dining Out Portion Control Tricks from Weight Watchers, From “The Portion Teller.”

Tony

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What are Some Super Snacks Under 100 Calories?

One of the secrets of super snacks under 100 calories is portion size. If you control the amount you are snacking on, you can enjoy just about anything. Moderation is key.

A great example of a super snack under 100 calories is watermelon. This is one of my favorite snacks and I have some almost every day. One serving of watermelon, 5.4 ounces, or one cup, yields 46 calories, no fat or cholesterol, one gram of fiber and also protein. Check out How Healthy is Watermelon for more on this super snack.

watermelon-wedges

While snacking always keep portion control in mind. Don’t go nuts doing it. But wait, you can go nuts, just limit your quantities, Harvard offers the following: “Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.”

WebMD offers a great example of this: “When the munchies strike while you’re on the go, there are few things more convenient than nuts. You can eat 14 almonds without hitting the 100-calorie mark. Plus, they’re rich in fiber and protein, which help keep hunger at bay.”

Personally, I am a big fan of popcorn and often have it evenings watching movies. You can have several cups of popcorn popped with coconut oil and remain under 100 calories. Snacking tip: Eat one kernel at a time and consciously enjoy it. Your snack will last longer and you will appreciate it more. I found this out when I had some dental work done last winter. I asked the dentist if I could eat popcorn. He laughed and said I could if I ate one kernel at a time. I have been doing it ever since.

Roasted seaweed from Costco is another winner. I wrote about these a year ago February.

Roasted seaweed is subtle and delicious. It comes in delicate little sheets. I think it melts in your mouth. Costco sells it in packages of 17 grams. Nutritional breakdown: 100 calories. There are 300 mg of sodium which may be off putting to some. I don’t have a lot of sodium in my diet so I don’t mind.

WebMD has a nice collection of snacks under 100 calories that you can explore here.

Their first suggestion is 1/2 cup of slow-churned ice cream. “Surprise! Ice cream tops our list of low-calorie snacks. The key is to look for slow-churned or double-churned varieties. This refers to a process that reduces fat and calories while retaining the creamy texture of full-fat varieties, so 1/2 cup has just 100 calories. As a bonus, you’ll get some protein and calcium.”

Full disclosure: I am an inveterate snacker, so I have to really police myself in order to maintain my healthy weight. If you want to read further on snacking, check out my Page: Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Tony

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How Have Portions Become Distorted?

There used to be a wonderful set of slides available from the Dept. of Health and Human Services on how portions have become distorted over the past 20 years. Somehow they have evaporated from cyberspace.

I found a few of them on the web and thought I would share them with you.

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The first is Spaghetti and Meatballs. Today we have 1025 calories in the form of two cups of pasta with sauce and three large meatballs. Two decades ago we were served one cup of spaghetti with sauce and three small meatballs. The difference is remarkable. The old way we got 500 calories for our meal. Nowadays it comes to 1,025 calories, or double what we used to get and half what we need to consume in our three meals.

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The second example is the turkey sandwich. Currently we get a pile of turkey with all the trimmings served on a mini loaf of bread for 825 calories. Two decades ago we had several slices of turkey with trimmings served between two slices of bread for 325 calories.

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The final example I found which is excellent, but was not a part of the original slide presentation shows two dinner plates. In 1963 we ate off of nine inch plates that held about 810 calories. Now we eat off of 12 inch dinner plates that hold 1870 calories.

Before you pooh-pooh this last example, try switching to smaller plates and servings and see what happens.

Studies indicate that people who eat off of smaller plates consume less calories. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

To read more about portion distortion check out the following recent posts: A fresh look at portion control and portion distortion and What are some excellent examples of portion control?

Tony

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