Today’s post comes from Araceli Vázquez, MS, RD, LD. Vázquez is one of the few bilingual/bicultural dietitians in North Texas. She began her career in nutrition in 1996 after a successful career as a microbiologist and now offers nutrition counseling as part of her private practice, DietGenics. Vázquez is also a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisor panel.
In the last two decades the portion sizes of foods and beverages served at most restaurants or prepared at home have gotten larger. Some foods such as bagels, cheeseburgers, spaghetti with meatballs, sodas, and muffins have doubled or tripled in size and in calories. These super or jumbo sizes influence and promote a higher consumption of calories. Consequently kids, adults and even seniors perceive all these super or jumbo sizes as being normal. This “portion distortion” runs parallel to the increase in the number of obese and overweight people.
There is much confusion or misinterpretation about the proper portions and serving sizes. Serving sizes are recommendations to consume a measured amount of food in cups, ounces, grams, milliliters, teaspoon, or tablespoons. Serving sizes are the basis for the government recommendations of what consumers should eat, and are easily identified in the Nutrition Facts Label and indicate the number of servings in the container. Portion size is the actual amount of food being served. In this way, a person eating at a restaurant can consume one portion but several serving sizes enough for two, three or even more people. Therefore, consumption of calories is increased in a single portion of food.
Weight management requires physical activity, healthful foods and portion control. This means avoiding supersizes and overeating. MyPlate offers an easy way to visualize a reasonable portion for every food group. Half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, and the other half divided between the protein and grain groups. Protein intake is very important, especially during the weight loss phase of weight management. Protein helps to control appetite by sustaining the feeling of fullness. The key is to choose the proper portions of good quality protein. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, at an affordable price, and an exceptional and easy way for portion and calorie control with only 70 Kcal/egg.
Other strategies for portion control include using smaller plates and bowls; slowing the pace of eating by putting the fork down after each bite, and chewing foods completely before swallowing as well as leaving some food on the plate. For successful outcomes it is also recommended to have several opportunities to eat including three main meals and nutritious portion-controlled snacks such as a hard-boiled egg dipped in salsa; sliced bell peppers and carrots with hummus or a low-fat yogurt. When eating out, ordering a child-size portion can be enough for an adult, or sharing a meal with a friend or family member also helps to control the portions.
When it comes to portion control, consider eggs as part of the strategies for weight management. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is associated with positive outcomes for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and other health conditions.