When it comes to portion sizes, America is known for “Supersizing” just about everything. After Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Supersize Me” came out, McDonald’s actually discontinued their Supersizing option (although, they deny that his documentary was the reason behind their decision). Unfortunately, the trend toward heaping plates of food hasn’t been discontinued by the general population. Despite the recommended serving size on nutrition labels, people still tend to eat more than is suggested.
I know firsthand how easy it can be to overdo it, especially when it comes to my favorite foods. Thankfully, there are some very easy to follow guidelines for watching your portions, and they don’t require crazy amounts of math (phew!). And by following the proper serving size, you’re not only watching your calorie intake, you’re getting to “have your cake and eat it too!”
Peanut Butter – If you’re like me, you could probably sit down with a spoon and eat an entire jar of the stuff. What the heck do they put in it anyway… crack!? I swear it’s addicting! Although nut butters have a variety of health benefits, they are high in calories. That’s not necessarily a bad thing… unless you devour giant spoonfuls every sitting. The recommended serving size for peanut butter is 2 tablespoons (and they mean level, not heaping). If you don’t have measuring spoons handy, use the tip of your thumb! Two thumb tips = 2 tablespoons.
Cereal – I don’t really eat cereal all that much, but on the rare occasion that I do, I’m always shocked at how small a serving size really is. Flip to the side of the box and take a look at the Recommended Serving Size… it’s typically 3/4 to 1 cup. Have you ever tried measuring that out? It’s puny! If you tend to just pour your cereal directly into the bowl, it’s more than likely you’re doubling or even tripling the amount you should be having. If you’re watching your calorie/carb intake, it’s important to measure it out. If you don’t have a measuring cup readily available, use the size of your fist as a reference!
Chicken – Lean protein can be really good for you… but like anything, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. If you typically eat an entire breast for lunch or dinner, you may be consuming more than a serving size. A standard serving of chicken is 3-4 ounces. I know, I know… guys trying to make gains eat double or triple that… I’m just quoting the “appropriate” amount. Clearly whoever wrote that didn’t get it approved by any of the meatheads I know. If you don’t have a food scale, you can use the size of a deck of playing cards or the size of your palm to eyeball the correct amount.
Cooking Spray – This one hurt my soul a little bit. I always thought I was keeping it light by using Pam and not dribbling oil in the pan. Boy was I wrong. Did you know a single serving of the stuff is 1/3 of one second!? Obviously I don’t time my sprays. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported that a more standard 6 second spray would have 50 calories and 6 grams of fat! That might not sound like a lot, but when you cook several times a day, it can add up fast! There is no fix for this… it’s a travesty!!! (Kidding.. sort of). Another easy way to grease the pan before cooking is to take a paper towel and wipe the pan with a little olive or coconut oil!
Coffee Creamer – I don’t like black coffee. I’m one of those people that needs my coffee to taste like coffee ice cream in order to enjoy it. Unfortunately, that means adding a whole mess of calories to it with creamer. Did you know a single serving of liquid creamer is only one measly tablespoon? Unless you actually measure out your daily java improvement elixir (did I just coin a new term?!), you’re probably overdoing it. I’ve found a good way to keep myself in check is to count out loud. So if it takes a second to fill up a tablespoon with the stuff and I don’t feel like actually taking the measuring spoon out, using it and washing it… I’ll just count in my head when pouring my creamer!
Salad Dressing – Salad can be a great alternative to a really heavy, starchy meal if you’re watching your weight. Unfortunately, the dressing that typically comes on the salad can crush any hope you had of making your meal “light”. Some restaurant salad dressings can add upwards of 500 calories. WHOA! Even when ordering dressing on the side, waiters typically bring far more than the recommended serving size of 2 tablespoons. Remember the counting trick from my creamer story? That can come in handy at a restaurant… especially because it might be a little awkward whipping out your measuring spoons at Ruth’s Chris. (I speak from experience about the awkwardness…).
This post was not meant to deter you from eating any of the foods I mentioned. It was meant to educate you on proper portion sizes. With any nutrition plan, moderation is key! If you want to stick to your healthy eating for the long term, you need to enjoy the way you eat… and depriving yourself of your favorite foods is not the way to do that! Want some cereal? Eat some cereal. Want some chicken? Eat some chicken. Want some cooking spray? Don’t eat the cooking spray, but I mean when you use it, just remember that stupid 1/3 second rule. Watch your portion sizes… Happy nomming my friends!
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