Understanding Portion Sizes

Keeping a Food Diary

Having a food diary can be a helpful way to keep track of how many servings you are eating, how many calories you are consuming, and what your portion sizes are. You can also keep track of when you are eating and why you are eating. Keeping close tabs on these details can help you track how much you are eating and the times during the day when you may tend to eat too much.
 
There are a number of ways to keep a food journal. You can write down your information in a notebook, or you can use your cell phone or computer. There are also some apps you can use to keep track of your calories, and some may even help count how many calories are in each serving of the particular food you are eating.
 
As you document how much you are eating and the times in the day when you maybe tend to overeat, you can start to anticipate these bouts of hunger and be prepared. For instance, if your food journal shows a pattern of overeating during an afternoon snack because you are bored or trying to stay awake, you can plan on taking a break around that time and go for a walk around the block. Thinking of things you can do ahead of time can help you avoid eating that candy bar that may put your calories over the limit for the day.
 

Controlling Food Portions While Eating Out

Eating out can be a challenge, especially if you are trying to watch calories and portions. If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to limit how often you go out to eat as much as possible. Try to make most of your meals at home and order those takeout foods less often.
 
If you do eat out, be cautious of the money trap. Many fast food places promote a larger quantity "value" meal for just a little extra money. While in your mind that may seem like a better value, you may wind up with more food and calories than you need to stay within your daily limit. It's a good deal for your wallet, but a terrible deal for your waistline.
 
When ordering a value meal, try not to make the choice based solely on price, but also based on your health. If you are eating with someone else, offer to split the meal instead of feeling like you have to eat the whole thing yourself (or waste any of it). If you are by yourself, don't worry about the special deal -- just go with the smaller size.
 
When having a sit-down meal in a restaurant, there are some things you can do to help control your portions and calories. Some of these tips include:
 
  • Order a half portion or an appetizer as a main meal.
     
  • Some menus have a symbol that may indicate that certain items are healthier or have a lower fat content. If your restaurant has one of these menus, select one of these items.
     
  • Ask for sauces or salad dressings on the side.
     
  • Try to eat slowly, as it can take around 15 minutes or longer for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full.
     
  • Try to stick with water and avoid high-calorie drinks, such sodas or cocktails.
 
Also, if you are going to be traveling, try packing some healthy items for your trip, rather than counting on those fast-food stops.
 
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