Diets, Servings and Portion Distortions

There are LOTS of diets out there – I repeat – LOTS.  Atkins, Paleo, South Beach… etc.  I could go on and on.  And every so often a new fad diet pops up that really takes off.  A few years back when my girlfriends and I were all “starving” college students.  I thought my best friend was on to the next, hot, fad diet.

In an effort to save money, she decided to eat everything in her pantry rather than to go to the store.  A win-win situation if you will.  Pantry gets empty, more money in pocket.  In her quest, she found an old peanut butter and jelly sandwich she had made a few days…weeks… maybe even months prior in a backpack.  (LIGHTBULB) Eat the sandwich.  This sandwich consequently made her feel ill for the next few days and totally suppressed her appetite.  She told me about this experience and we determined it must be the next hot thing.  We were going to call it the “Eat-a-three-month-old-sandwich-lose-your-appetite” diet. The ETMOSLYA for short.  Sadly, it did not catch on.  Weird.

At any rate, my point here is that no matter what fad diet you encounter or crazy scheme you think up in your head, a lot of eating healthy comes down to portion control.  Thee ole adage “Eat Everything in Moderation.”  This is my favorite approach to food, because you don’t really feel deprived, but you do have to exercise some will power.  Understand that you will get a next meal.  Understand that eating it faster doesn’t make more appear.  Understand that eating it slow allows your body the chance to recognize you’ve eaten.  Click here to read about portion size vs. serving size.  There is a distinct difference.

Now, I know in real life, we all have a hard time executing this.  My mission here is to make you more aware.  To think about what you eat before you eat it.  Below are everyday objects that represent how much you should be eating for each of the listed food groups.  Serving sizes do not change whether you are male or female, but total calorie intake therefore number of servings changes per individual.

Grain: 1 serving = ½ baseball (usually 2 servings – 1 baseball – is appropriate for a woman)

Protein: 1 serving (deck of cards)

Dairy: 1 serving, 4 dice (cheese) or half a baseball (ice cream) or 8 oz. milk

Vegetables:  The government guidelines recommend 2 ½ cups of veggies.  I say, don’t skimp or limit yourself in this category.

If you want a reference specific to you, simply use your hand.  A fist is your fruits and grain measurement.  Your palm is your recommended protein size.

My request to you – think about what you eat before you eat it.  Do a mental checklist of what you’re putting into your body.  Are you eating the recommended portion?



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  2. cjmcook says:

    I love everything you had to say. I couldn’t agree more. Fad diets just don’t work in the long run. It is truly about portion control and enjoying every bite rather than shoveling. Thanks for this wonderful and much needed reminder today.

  3. Marc says:

    I’m totally with you on this! The problem with fad diets is that they come and go, and many of them are pretty unbalanced. I grew up in an “everything in moderation” household (we even got happy meals once a year) and it’s a philosophy that’s stuck with me.

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