Did you know that the key to proper serving sizes is right in your hand?
There was a great article in Thursday’s Arizona Republic with suggestions for Sizing Up Servings using your hands as a guide. I want to review it here before I forget it. I’m trying more and more to let my body’s own hunger and satisfied signals guide me in determining how much to eat, but find visual reminders very powerful when I slip back into mindless eating.
Why is Knowing Proper Serving Sizes so Important?
The article began by reiterating what most of us already know: portion sizes in this country are out of control, from bagels the size of small frisbees to bowls of pasta that could serve a small family. Most of us are eating portions two to three times bigger than the government’s definition of a serving at every meal. Which goes a long way toward explaining our obesity epidemic.
We are inundated with tons of information about WHAT to eat and in the process tend to forget that HOW MUCH we eat is of critical importance.
Most of us have no idea what the proper serving sizes of chicken or potatoes or fruit or cheese look like.
I still remember the wake up call I got my first morning on Weight Watchers more than 20 years ago when I began the day by measuring out my cereal, milk and orange juice for the first time. Up until then I had been in complete and utter denial, not understanding how I had gained so much weight since I ate “healthy” and avoided most junk and fast food.
It was a rude awakening to realize I had been eating 2-3 servings of cereal and orange juice every morning!
It doesn’t help that restaurant portions in the past 20 years have exploded. Twenty years ago a bagel measured 3 inches and had about 140 calories, today it’s 6 inches and 350 calories. The average burger has grown from 333 calories to 590. And french fries that were once 2.4 ounces and 210 calories are now 6.9 ounces and 610 calories.
And it appears that cookbooks are also contributing to the potion distortion. Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab reviewed the serving sizes and calorie content from recipes in seven editions of The Joy of Cooking. (1936, 1946, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1997, and 2006)
Guess what they found? Today’s dish likely has far more calories than the recipe your grandma made from an earlier edition. They identified 18 recipes present in all the editions (for things like brownies, sugar cookies, apple pie, macaroni and cheese, beef stroganoff, Spanish rice and goulash) and the average calories increased in 17 of them.
The average number of calories per recipe in 1936 was 2,124 with about 268 calories per serving. In 2006 those numbers had risen to 3,052 calories and 436 calories per serving. That’s a 44% increase in calories.
So what can we do to counteract the dangers of huge portions? Slow down and pay closer attention to the proper serving sizes of what we eat and use our hands to help guide us in recognizing what proper serving sizes are…
Using You Hand(s) to Determine Proper Serving Sizes
Proper serving sizes of protein are the size of your palm (just the palm, no fingers or thumb)
Proper serving sizes of starch, such as rice, pasta or potatoes, are the size of your fist.
A serving of fat is the size of one joint of your thumb.
A serving of fruit is what fits in the palm of your cupped hand.
Proper serving sizes of vegetables will fit into both cupped hands. And since we bring our hands with us wherever we go and most likely use them to eat they can be a constant reminder of just how much we should eat!
Here’s a helpful video demonstrating how to use your hands for determining proper serving sizes…
Do you have a favorite strategy for managing your portions to share?
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