Article at a Glance
• In the last twenty years, increased portion sizes have helped contribute to a corresponding increase in obesity.
• Teaching your children about proper portion sizes can help them avoid getting diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol.
• Learn more about appropriate portion sizes by visiting choosemyplate.gov.
It’s true that you are what you eat, but how much you eat is also important. Over the past 20 years America’s serving sizes have increased dramatically. Predictably, we have also seen a dramatic increase in obesity.
Adults aren’t the only victims of increasing portions; our children are also paying a high price for super-sized meals. Doctors are now starting to see children with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol — conditions traditionally only seen in adults.
It may take some adjusting at first to get your family’s portions under control, but these tips can help you get off to a good start.
• Learn the difference between serving sizes and recommended amounts. Serving sizes tell you how many calories and nutrients are in a certain amount of food. This allows us to see how many calories we are consuming, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us how much we should be eating. Take a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s choosemyplate.gov to figure out how much food you should be eating based on age, gender, and level of physical activity.
• Use smaller plates and bowls to make food portions look larger.
• When packing up leftovers, store them in separate smaller portions so that family members won’t be tempted to pull them out of the fridge and finish them all up at once.
• Don’t eat out of the bag or box. Instead, serve up an appropriate amount of chips in a separate container and put the bag back in the cupboard. You can do the same thing with meals. Leave the pot in the kitchen and serve meals at the counter. You’re less likely to overeat when the food isn’t there for you to mindlessly pick at.
• Make a rule that only vegetables or salads can be served up for seconds.
• Don’t skip meals and take time for a couple of healthy snacks. Going to the dinner table too hungry often leads to overeating.
• Make vegetables and fruits a part of every meal. They can help fill you up while controlling calorie intake.
• Don’t eat on the run. Teach your children to eat slowly and enjoy their food. Sometimes it takes awhile to feel full, so slowing down gives your stomach a chance to send your brain the “I’m full!” signal.
• Restaurants are famous for serving way more than we should eat. When eating out, try to share meals. You can also pack up half the meal into a doggie bag before you even begin to eat.
• Say no to the “value meal.” Just because it costs a little bit more money doesn’t mean that it isn’t costing you a lot more in the long run. Your health is worth way more than a larger pile of french fries.
• Don’t make your kids clean their plates. Instead teach them to only eat until full.
• Get your kids involved. Let them help figure out portion sizes or help plan meals so that they include enough fruits and veggies. The Texas Department of Agriculture has a great brochure for kids to help visualize appropriate portion sizes.
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