Keeping An EYE On Things

Portion control is out of control in our society.  This photo shows what portion sizes *used* to look like, and what they look like today.  There is clearly a very large difference.  This explains many things about our growing obesity epidemic.  People simply do not understand what a *real* portion looks like because they are used to being served two or three times a normal serving.  So, when a doctor asks, “Do you eat a lot?”  Their answer, of course, is no.

I used to fall into that category.  I did not think I ate all that much.  The problem was that my portion sizes were seriously inflated.  I was consuming far too many calories in each sitting.  Despite the fact I was not eating fast food, I was still morbidly obese.  I was always a little confused because I ate  healthy foods.  I cooked my meals at home using very little convenience or pre-packaged foods.  Fruits and vegetables were always a big part of my daily diet.  Yet, the fat was still there (and often times increasing).

Once I realized that it was not so much *what* I was eating as much as the *quantity* things started to improve.  I started purchasing smaller things…fruits especially…to help curb the portion sizes.  I started preparing meals as if I were feeding three people instead of five.  This reduced everyone’s portion sizes and also reduced the amount of leftovers lurking in my fridge.  The interesting thing?  Even though I began cooking less food at each meal, we were all still satisfied and nourished.  Go figure.

I am much more conscious of how much I am eating these days.  Part of that is due to practice, and the other part is due to journaling.  Keeping a food journal helps to keep me accountable.  It prevents me from “letting things slide” and getting carried away with eating.  As an addict, this is very important for me.  In that same vein, as an addict, this was one of the harder things I had to implement.  I was resistant to logging every little thing that entered my mouth.  It is an invaluable tool to my success, though.  I highly recommend everyone keep a food journal.  If you have never kept one, you might be (unpleasantly) surprised at the amount of food you actually consume in a day.

Here is a chart I found while roaming the blogging world.  It is a good visual reference for those looking to control portion sizes without stopping to measure every single thing before eating it (which I find frustrating, by the way).

Looking over this chart, you can probably see portion distortion with many products.  Bagels are a big one.  I cannot remember the last time I saw a bagel in a bakery that was smaller than my palm…can you?  Of course, I have bagels in the house that are about that size, but they are considered “mini” bagels.  The full size bagels are easily double that size.

Do you control your portion sizes using this visual method or some other method?  Are there any foods you still have difficulty with when creating a portion (cheese is my portion weakness)?

-Erica

15 responses to “Keeping An EYE On Things

  1. Thanks for this post. I’m trying to eat healthier than what I was in the past. I used to be a fast food person, and so far I have weaned myself off of that. However, still trying to get my portions under control is still a struggle. Because, like you said its not what I’m eating now, but how much that may be keeping me from losing weight. My portion control problems are with cheese and peanut butter and when I do eat meat, it’s normally more than 3 oz. I’m still a work in progress. But, I totally agree that having a food journal really helps. I use the my fitness pal app on my phone, so I can take it with me wherever I go.
    Oh, by the way I finally had time last night to read up on my stepper and set it. So, today is the first day of counting my steps. 🙂 I’ll let you know how many it is tomorrow. ~Charity

    • Hey, Charity!
      I was actually going to e-mail you today to make sure everything was going well for you. 🙂

      I love cheese…even now. This is why I am especially careful when using it on anything. My life previously included several blocks of cheese in the bottom drawer. When I would make tacos, I would shred an entire 8 ounce block and it would be gone by the time we finished dinner. That is a *ton* of cheese. Now; however, I usually shred about 1/3 of the block for tacos. The cheese is still gone at the end of the meal, but at least I know I have consumed considerably less. I also started buying reduced fat or fat free cheeses instead of full fat. This helps control the fat intake when I do “indulge” in the cheese.

      Peanut butter is another love of mine…maybe we were separated at birth?! LOL – I switched to a brand of peanut butter that contains no hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, though. Those are really bad for you (from what I’ve read anyway). I use Peanut Butter & Co now. They have all sorts of various flavors…our favorite is White Chocolate Wonderful. 🙂

      -Erica

      • Oh, yum on the Peanut Butter! I will have to check that brand out. Last time I bought peanut butter was organic ground peanuts at whole foods. You can just turn the machine on and it grinds the peanuts. If I get this I have to add a little bit of hone for a creamier consistency…but I love peanut butter-and nutella now actually, which can really get me in trouble LOL. I could eat either by the tablespoon full.
        I don’t think I could ever give up dairy completely because I love cheese so much. I’m the same way when it comes to tacos. I have to just put a little bit of cheese on my tacos and then put the bag back in the fridge. 🙂 I love cheese so much we’re having broccoli and cheese rice casserole tonight for dinner. Love it!
        Wow, this really makes me aware of how much I love food..maybe a little too much… LOL. Well, I’m only at 529 steps, but the day is still young. Hopefully, I’ll get to go walk on my lunch and that should get my numbers up there. I did read the whole manual, but I forgot to bring it today. Do you remember how it reads the exercise mode?

      • I, too, have tried the ultra natural peanut butter, but found I did not like it as much. First, I had to keep it in the fridge, which made it hard to spread on bread without ruining it. Second, the texture was a bit strange to me also. I love the brand I use now…and while it may not be the very best version of PB out there, it is far better than regular old “leading brand” PB with all those hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. 🙂

        I could absolutely *never* give up dairy…ever. I love cheese, eggs, milk, etc. I was actually a full blown vegetarian for many years prior to having children, but I could *never* make the leap to vegan. I would die without cheese. LOL

        For the activity mode:
        Press the activity button and hold for two seconds. You will notice a rotating line on the left hand side of the display screen once this mode is in progress. When you are finished, press and hold the activity button again for two seconds. You can press the memo button to view the stored information from your last activity “session.” Hope that helps! 😉

        -Erica

  2. Thanks for the info on the step counter. That did help immensly! 🙂

  3. I always measure nuts. Other than that, I eyeball.

    • I love nuts, and I agree those should probably be measured. I typically am an “eyeballer” when it comes to portion sizes, too. There are very few things (if any at all) that I actually measure out. Even nuts I rarely measure. I usually just pour some into the palm of my hand into about a golf ball size mound and call it a day. That may or may not be the best approach, though. LOL

      -Erica

  4. I do think it is helpful to spend a couple of weeks weighing and measuring to really learn what serving sizes look like, then do random spot-checks periodically to make sure your eyes aren’t growing too generous. If I’m not careful, I always start to creep up on nuts, portion-wise.

    I’ve found that restaurants tend to know an almost exact weight of any meat they serve – they have to be so focused on making money & tracking their ordering that they know that the breast meat for a salad with chicken on top has 5 oz., for example. I am no longer surprised when I ask the waiter to find out how much a portion of meat weighs and he or she already knows without checking.

    I bought some bento molds for rice and know that it takes about 1/3rd of a cup. So, I make rice, mold it, and keep it in the fridge in little heart- and flower-shaped, pre-measured mounds.

    I still think it would be an awesome public health campaign to show a chart like the one you’ve posted on billboards. (I mean, I’d rather not have billboards, but if we’re stuck with them, why not mandate some time for public service messages, much as we do with radio & TV? Same airspace, really, when you think about it.)

    • Andie,
      I think you are probably right about spending some time measuring to really understand portion sizes. I have never been one to measure, but maybe I should give it a try (at least short term) to see how well I am *really* doing. I doubt my portion sizes are too inflated, if at all, though. Of course, isn’t that what anyone would say who doesn’t want to start measuring them?! LOL

      I also agree that billboards are annoying. However, if they have to be there (which obviously they do) then they should be promoting public health. A billboard campaign that advertises a chart like the one above would be an eye opener to most people. I also think more people should be aware of how much portion sizes (especially in fast food and restaurants) have grown over the last 20 years. The health of this country really is out of control. 😦

      -Erica

  5. Thanks for the post! I’m convinced that portion sizes are BIG part of the obesity problem, and just did a post about alcohol portions yesterday, and how they’re getting so much bigger – which is not only a problem for obesity and weight management, but also for drink driving issues.

    The one I can’t get over, though, is pancake portions. The size of a CD! OMG! I thought the ones I was doing for our family were normal sized, yet they’d be double that! Cheese is a bigger serve that we usually offer, and butter smaller, but generally it looks about right now. However, what my parents are serving up…hmmm…I think I’ll send this to them!

    • Portion sizes have steadily been growing in our society. In correlation, so has our waistline (as a whole, of course). It is surprising to me that most people do not see the relationship between the two.

      When I make pancakes here at home (which is *very* rare these days), I usually use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter onto the griddle. One full 1/4-cup creates two pancakes. These end up being right around CD size (give or take a teeny bit), but then my chicklets often want more than they used to when I made huge pancakes. Instead of letting them have more pancakes, though, I usually fill out the plate with fresh fruit so their tummies get full without additional cakes.

      -Erica

  6. Pingback: Keeping An EYE On Things | Mr.FuzzyBear

  7. Hey Erica, I counted my steps yesterday and even after doing a little over a mile on my lunch I still fell short of 5,000 steps..4,879..sigh. So, I have now learned that if I do a couple of laps around my building about a 5-10 minute walk it will add 800 steps each time just about. I plan on incorporating this into my daily routine hopefully every couple of hours. It’s just really hard when you have a desk job. I was still surprised it was that low. This is definitely something I’m going to have to work on. ~Charity

    • Having a desk job certainly puts a kink into physical activity during a big chunk of your day. However, look at it like you have all that room for improvement! If you were already close (or even over 10,000), it would be less satisfying. Now, when you reach 10,000 steps you will have something to be really proud of! 🙂 You can do it!

      -Erica

  8. Pingback: Around the Web – Feb 10 « 52 Weeks, 52 Pounds

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