In the realm of healthy eating, portion control is possibly the most important point outside of choosing the right foods to eat. If you're making lifestyle changes to be healthier, whether you're on a diet or not, portion control plays a vital role in helping you achieve your goals. It can help you lose weight, maintain a healthy lifestyle and even eat healthier even when you're not at home. Sometimes, it's not about what you eat, it's about how much.
We've all heard that all good things are best enjoyed in moderation, but it's difficult to stick to that principle in the face of the super-sized portions of our everyday culture. Many times, it's even hard to remember what a normal portion is, because we've become so accustomed to the XL portions that are being sold as a standard size in restaurants and fast food chains. Is it really necessary to get a pound of meat in your burger? What about half a pound or a quarter? What's really normal?
In truth, a burger should be no more than about 5 ounces – just under ⅓ pound. Any more than that and you're just overstuffing your body with calories you don't need. In addition, the negatives connected with eating red meat get a lot worse when you're eating two to three times the amount you should in a single sitting.
The point of portion control is to make sure you're eating just enough to satisfy without overstuffing yourself and packing in the extra calories that will just turn to fat. Plus, the really nice thing about being controlled in your portions is that you can be more generous with what you eat. Instead of limiting yourself to a diet of tofu and rice cakes alone and eventually cheating on something that's impossible keep up, you can eat more of what you want in a controlled way. Doing this will allow you to be healthier overall, by taking small, practical steps in the right direction.
Portion control when eating out can be difficult because the extra-large serving is sitting right on the plate they set in front of you. Although many of us were taught from childhood that we need to clean our plates, this can get you in trouble when you’re given too much food to start with. The CDC states, “Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions.” They go on to recommend that you split entrée or have the waiter immediately wrap up half of your food as soon as it arrives.
At home, portion control becomes a bit easier, because you're in control of what's going on the plates. The CDC recommends using individual plates instead of serving dishes, since this will help family members avoid taking second and third helpings. Without having the serving dish sitting on the table right in front of them, most people will opt to end the meal after they finish the serving they were given instead of continuing to fill up on extra portions.
In addition, you want to watch portions outside of your meals as well. Even the CDC accepts that snacking is fine, as long as you're controlling the portions and not overstuffing on empty calories. Their recommendation is to avoid big bags or bowls, choosing instead to put your snack foods into a smaller dish or container so you don't munch to excess. For after school snacks for the kids, you can also cook hot foods on your grill for a special warm treat when they get home – like quesadillas or grilled cheese triangles. It'll be hard for them to complain that they miss their bag of chips when given a more appetizing option.
This idea of portion control is one of the cornerstones of our Healthy Cooking foundation at George Foreman. George, himself, invented the grill for the very reason that he could keep eating the foods he loved, but do it in a healthier way. The key is that you can eat what you want, but you should do it in a way that's healthier with portion control, cutting fat where you can and adding a few healthy options into your normal menu.