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What Is a Portion Size?

by Marissa on July 31, 2013

portion-control-297x300How many portions are in a snack-size bag of whole grain crackers, a bottle of juice or a protein bar?

The simple answer is it’s hardly ever just one.

Some of these products contain as much as two or two-and-a-half servings per package.

Can YOU Eat Just One?

Sure, you could go ahead and enjoy just half the bag, but who really does that?

It’s ok if you’re silently agreeing with me because the truth is if you place food in front of most people, they tend to eat it all. It’s just the way we’re wired.

That’s why I recommend steering clear of the packaged food and sticking with whole, natural foods.

The illustration above shows some typical portion sizes, but ….

My dirty little secret is that I hardly ever eat according to portion size because I eat lots of fresh veggies, some fruit and whole grains and lean protein.

Instead, I use this hunger rating scale.

Hunger Scale

But what about those times when you’re not eating at home?

The Perils of Supersizing

Eating too much food in one sitting is hard on your body, because:

  • Food is meant to be eaten throughout the day. Overdosing on too much food at one time causes pain, upset, and sluggish digestion.
  • A surge of glucose is released into your blood. Your pancreas has to work overtime, pumping insulin through the body to absorb all that extra glucose. This can make you feel spacey, weak, irritable, or headachy.
  • Thinking there is some type of emergency, your adrenal glands go into “fight or flight” mode and release adrenaline and cortisol, which is the body’s natural response to stress.
  • When your blood sugar levels finally plummet, you experience wicked cravings for more food – specifically simple carbs or sweets.
  • Research has found that immune system function is affected for at least five hours after consuming large amounts of simple carbohydrates.

That said, I never recommend restricting food, but eating until you’re satisfied.

5 Tips to Kick Portion Distortion

  • Don’t over order – go for salads, soups, and appetizers, which are typically more reasonably sized than entrees
  • Choose high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to keep you feeling full and energized
  • Chew well to aid digestion and give your brain time to register you’re full before you overeat
  • Get enough water. Often we mistake thirst for hunger
  • Carry your own snacks. Stock up on snack-sized containers and fill them with healthy eats like chopped veggies, air-popped popcorn, or nuts

Want to Be Even Healthier?

Are you curious about how easy-to-make changes (such as chewing your food more thoroughly) can make a big difference in your health? Would you like help in making healthier food choices? Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me today!

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Great post, Marissa! I'm with you- I can hardly ever remember limiting my veggie serving to a true "portion size!" The more the merrier for me when it comes to green veggies! That floss for 1 oz of chocolate looks pretty big to me... Either I buy really big floss, or I should be enjoying more chocolate ;).


@MeganLyons I'm the same with my veggies! I'm a true believer that you can never have enough chocolate (especially raw, dark chocolate!) 

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