Tag Archives: serving size

The Importance of Portion Control – Rush

I think the first lesson I learned when I started writing this blog 10 years ago was the importance of portion control and serving size. If you aren’t paying attention to portion size and serving size for the food you eat, you are just kidding yourself about getting control of your weight. Here’s what the Rush Health and Wellness Bulletin has to say:

Are you having trouble losing weight even though you’re making healthier lifestyle choices — sacrificing sweets, swapping French fries for a side salad and sweating bullets at the gym? Do you continue to mount the scale, week after week, only to discover the same stubborn number staring back at you?

man eating meat with vegetables

Photo by Вадим Маркин on Pexels.com

The problem might not be what you’re eating, but how much you’re eating. In fact, portion control is often the most challenging hurdle on a person’s path to weight loss. Continue reading

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Can cherries upset your stomach?

If you are on the lookout for healthy snacks to munch on instead of potato chips, chocolate or other not-so-nutritious foods, check out cherries.

Recently, a guy I know bought cherries to satisfy that need without consuming a lot of empty calories. He ended up demonstrating that even natural healthy snacks have their limits. You need to use your brain when snacking and don’t overdo it, no matter whether it’s Cheetos or cherries.

Twice in recent weeks, this guy ate about a pound of cherries at one sitting. Eating that quantity of food at one sitting is just not smart any way you look at it, even a good healthy natural food like cherries.

Searching online for information about the problems he was having, he learned that everyone should limit their intake of cherries at one sitting to a cup at most.

As I say so often on these pages, “Eat less; move more; live longer.”

LiveStrong.com notes that, “Cherries are high in quercetin, a flavonoid that offers antioxidant protections against free radicals. A handful may offer you many health benefits, including heart disease and cancer prevention, but eating too many cherries can lead to stomach upset. Large amounts of quercetin may upset your stomach, triggering nausea and vomiting. Stick to a single cup of cherries to determine your threshold for quercetin intake.”

The take-away here is that overeating any food, even a healthy, natural fruit like cherries, can hurt you. Forget the mindless munching and think about portion control. That is one of the keys to getting a handle on your weight. You can read further on this in a post I wrote about eating watermelon, another very healthy food. You CAN have too much of a good thing.

If you are a guy/gal who has a sweet tooth and just can’t resist junking out, please take a moment to read my Love Letter to Hostess Ho Ho’s and Twinkies – NOT. It might give you a clearer perspective on how junk food damages you.

In the right hand column of this page you will find the portion control tag to read any of a number of posts on that topic. Get control of your portions and you will have grasped a key to controlling your weight.

Check out my Page – Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tony

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Reading food labels …

The information on food labels was updated recently by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I think they did a good job on helping the consumer to better understand the nutrients in food packages.

Below is an example of the updated label.

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On the left is the old format, one the right, the new. As you can see the Serving Size and Calories are now more prominently displayed. Additionally, the number of servings per container is also given. In the past many folks would read the calories without paying attention to the serving size or number of servings per container. For example, a package of potato chips might have told you innocently that there were 150 calories per serving. Not bad, you might conclude … if you weren’t aware that the package contained four servings, so, if you ate the whole bag, you were getting 600 calories.

Here are some tips offered by Rush Medical Center on reading the labels:

 

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One brobdingnagian dessert …

Eat less; move more; live longer is still the mantra of this blog. Nonetheless, there are times when size matters. In this case, one brobdingnagian dessert … On the off-chance you aren’t familiar with that word, it’s current use simply means colossal. It refers back to Gulliver’s Travels and a land of giants.

As regular readers know I got back from Las Vegas last Thursday. I recounted the trip and some of the wonderful meals my girlfriend and I enjoyed there in What happens in Vegas ….. The meal I am about to describe to you could easily have originated in Las Vegas.

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My girlfriend and I subscribe to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. On Sunday we attended its performance of Hamlet. Before the theater we always dine at Riva, a superb restaurant on Chicago’s famed Navy Pier.

Herewith the details of that meal and subsequent dessert. Continue reading

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Easter Ham – How many calories?

Ham is the traditional Easter main course, unless you’re going to an Easter buffet with your family and have miles of different foods to choose from.

Beware the salt in Easter ham

So how many calories are in that ham, or how much can you eat without ruining your calorie count on Easter? And what about the salt? Ham and salt go together because salt is used to cure and preserve ham.

Here are some differing estimates that may help you with that ham dinner. Myfitnesspal.com puts a three-ounce serving of honey baked ham, spiral cut, at a very manageable 150 calories. Three ounces is a small amount, less than a quarter of a pound, however. The quarter pounder works for McDonald’s. Maybe it can work for you, too.

But then the salt kicks in. That three-ounce portion has 960 mg of salt, or 320 mg an ounce. We need around 2000 milligrams a day and medical experts say that many of us should cut it to 1500.

Another site good on calorie matters, SparkRecipes.com, puts 5.33 ounces of ham, presumably made without the honey this time, at 337 calories but with a sodium level of 2,273.4 mg. Experts recommend that adults consume below 1500 mg of salt per day.

Maybe the idea is that Easter only comes around once a year. Enjoy some ham and be done with it. Just don’t overdo it, particularly in view of the sodium content.

I think the old saw, “All things in moderation” comes into play here. You can enjoy some ham on Easter as long as you don’t make a pig of yourself.

Tony

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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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How Many Calories in Easter Ham?

Ham is the traditional Easter main course, unless you’re going to an Easter buffet with your family and have miles of different foods to choose from.

Beware the salt in Easter ham

So how many calories are in that ham, or how much can you eat without ruining your calorie count on Easter? And what about the salt? Ham and salt go together because salt is used to cure and preserve ham.
Continue reading

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How to Lose Weight Using Portion Control

My main focus is living a healthy life and exercising regularly. Paying attention to what I eat is a primary tool and one of the best techniques for this is paying attention to portion control and serving size. I truly don’t try to lose weight. I have been within five pounds of 155 for the past eight years.

If you are overweight, you can use the portion control tool to jump start your weight loss efforts.

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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What About Maintaining My Weight While Traveling?

I think it takes a special focus to be successful eating while traveling and not pack on any pounds.

I am currently in Las Vegas. I would be on vacation if I were stlll working, but I am retired, so I guess this qualifies as just traveling. My girlfriend still works, however, so it is a vacation for her.

In any event, I had to write this having just experienced an amazing breakfast. We are staying at Caesars Palace. Serendipity 3 is one of the hotel restaurants. The food is good, but the servings are brobdingnagian. I love that word. If you aren’t familiar with it, it comes from Gulliver’s Travels and refers to anything colossal in size. That’s what our breakfasts today were.

The cup dwarfed the spoon

The cup dwarfed the spoon

I hope the photos I shot with my iPhone get the point across. The coffee cup held at least 12 ounces, maybe 16. You can see how it dwarfs the spoon. But the main culprit was the main course. I ordered two eggs over easy with pork sausages and dry rye toast. I consider this a nice healthy meal. The plate was a good 13 inches in diameter. So, it held a LOT of food. The sausages were probably an inch in diameter. Even the toast was about 1-1/2 times normal size and thickness.

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I mention this because while traveling, sitting down to eat meals is kind of a celebration and I think you need to defend yourself against getting carried away in the moment.

I managed to finish the eggs, but left one whole sausage. I had some strawberry jam on a half slice of toast, but ended up leaving one entire slice, also. Nonetheless, I really felt full to bursting when we finished. I think even though I didn’t finish I had managed an assault on my digestive system.

The point of all this is that I felt I had to discipline myself not to ‘clean my plate.’ I always hate to waste food, especially in a restaurant where I am paying premium prices, but I concluded it would have been more damaging to me to finish that huge serving. I really didn’t want to waist the food either.

Tomorrow, we will be eating a more modest breakfast.

Tony

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A Graphic Guide to Food Portions – Infographic

In the 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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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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How the Right Perspective can Jump Start Weight Loss

I fought the battle of the bulge for decades with only small sporadic successes that were always followed by further weight gains. I like to eat and I really enjoy pizza, potato chips as well as ice cream and other fattening sweets. That’s why my problem wouldn’t go away. If it tasted good then I wanted to eat more and I often didn’t stop till the food ran out. Not a healthy practice!

Then I was lucky enough to get involved in writing this blog on diet, exercise and good health. What happened next was almost like magic. At the time, 2010, I had pared my weight down to 165 pounds from a high several years earlier of over 220. So, I considered myself to be a success, although probably only temporarily. But, writing the blog changed my perspective. I no longer thought of food as something just wonderful to consume with no further consequences. I became aware of portion control and serving size. I started paying attention to them. Previously, I had considered a serving of pasta, another of my favorites, to be a heaping plateful. Wrong. A cup of pasta amounts to 220 calories. And, that is without tomato or meat sauce.

This is one cup of pasta - 200 calories

This is one cup of pasta – 200 calories

When I say the change in perspective worked like magic, I mean just that. After several months of writing the blog, I found that my pants were sliding down around my diminishing waistline! I actually went to the doctor because I thought I must have cancer because the first thing they always ask is, “Have you experienced recent weight loss?”

It turned out that I was perfectly healthy. My body was just responding to my changed perspective of paying attention to what I ate and not simply overindulging because it tasted good.

That has been my actual experience. Today in late 2014, I weigh in the low 150 pound range where I have been for several years.

I truly believe it was the changed perspective toward food that accomplished in months what I had failed at for decades.

A friend recently emailed me a fun example of perspective that I want to share with you. It is a test for admission to an elementary school in Hong Kong. There is a series of numbers in a parking lot. You need to fill in the missing one. I confess I didn’t pass it. And, I hasten to add that I am good at math.

See how you do.

You are to answer in 20 seconds. I took way longer and still missed it. I will publish the answer tomorrow.

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Good luck!

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 of at least 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 eight 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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