Portion Control, Do You Read Me?

Portion control. This is a phrase that you may have heard before, but unfortunately is made difficult to heed when eating out. It is a common occurrence to receive a plate piled high with food and to leave the restaurant feeling stuffed to the brim. I know this feeling well because it is much easier to overeat when you have a pile of food in front of you. On a recent trip to Chipotle (my guilty fast food pleasure), I left feeling WAY too full and wishing that they offered half portions. This is not only Chipotle, but almost every other restaurant and fast food joint. Our idea of a single portion has become extremely distorted as restaurants continuously increase the size of their portions. This can make a healthy diet a little difficult.

Overeating every once and a while might not seem like a big deal, but when it becomes a more and more common occurrence (especially with the increasing trend of eating out multiple days a week), it can lead to more serious health effects, such hypertension and type 2 diabetes. This is particularly true to high fat, high calorie meals.

So what can you do to battle this portion distortion?

  • When you eat out, right when your food is delivered, divide your food in half and push one half to the side. Enjoy one half of your plate for dinner and take the rest home for leftovers! This way, you avoid overeating and you get two meals out of one! If you think you may give in to temptation, ask for a to-go box right when you get your food, so you can put away half of your plate right away.
  • You can share a plate with someone. This is also a great way to cut down on the cost of eating out!
  • Not only can a large portion contribute to overeating, but so can being extra hungry. Prevent those ravenous feelings by enjoying a little snack in between meals. Something as simple as an apple with peanut butter or baby carrots and hummus will help to tide you over.

What exactly is one portion size? Check out ChooseMyPlate to look up specific portion sizes based on your age and on the food group!