Portion Control is Key to Weight Loss

JANUARY 7, 2003 - Posted at: 10:45pm

JONESBORO, AR -- OK. So your New Year's resolution is to eat healthier foods in smaller amounts, so you can lose weight, but in this era of super-sized meals and king-sized candy bars -- figuring out the proper portions can be difficult.

The concept of large portions began in the 1960s and the value meal in the 1980s. Decades later, Americans are the fattest people in the world. However, there are ways to get control of your weight. It starts with proper portions.

As Ann Baxter, her husband and friend sat down to eat pizza, she said she's aware of how much of the food she should be eating.

"Yes. We may not always practice like we should, but I try, you know, the majority of the time," said Baxter.

Nutrition and dietary experts say the problem though is that most U.S. residents are not paying enough attention to portion sizes.

Patty Abraham, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and instructor in the Arkansas State University Nursing Department, explained, "I think often they thought whatever was on their plate was a serving, and in some cases, like with a bagel. You know if it's a large bagel that could be three or four bread servings."

Many people use variations of fingers or the palm of your hand to explain portions, but those proportions vary greatly from women to men.

Better examples can be found around the house. A portion of meat, fish or poultry, for example, is three ounces or about the size of your personal data assistant. One cup is the serving size for vegetables. That equals a light bulb.

"You could use a baseball to visualize what a piece of fruit should be," added Abraham.

A tennis ball is about one cup of starch product, such as rice. Two dominoes stacked together equals a one and a half ounce serving of cheese. A serving of salad dressing and mayonnaise is two tablespoons, or an easier way to measure: a nail polish bottle, and a pool of oil or margarine the size of a quarter equals one serving.

Patty Abraham said, "I think that's one way to get started. Another way is to listen to your body; to slow down halfway through a meal and try to say am I still hungry."

Abraham commented that another thing for everyone to be aware of is serving sizes in pre-packaged foods. Many consumers think a small container of ice cream, for example, is one serving, when in reality it's four or more.

Ann Baxter added, "When we go to pick out something, bigger always looks better, and so when you get this little plate with little tiny food now, it's hard to change, but I hope I am and I hope my family is."