Portion Distortion

As I said in a previous post, I attended a free class at my YMCA called “Portion Distortion” and the teacher, a Registered Dietitian, crammed a lot of information into an hour.

Here are some of my notes. I apologize if they are kind of random. This was just the order I took them in as a result of how the teacher taught the class:

  • Eating healthy is a lifestyle change. Everyone has to eat, so it might as well be healthy foods, but this can take time.
  • Extra calories every day add up.
  • She recommended a book called Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. Basically one of the premises is that if there is more food around, you will eat that extra food, even if you are full.

  • Be mindful of your habits. TV=mindless eating. Eating dinner in front of a TV is generally a bad idea.
  • Plates are bigger now than they used to be. Use smaller plates and you will eat less. Same principle holds true for drinking glasses.
  • Measure out your food–bring your measuring cups out and visualize what portions look like.
  • The teacher said she thinks the focus on sugar in the diet will be the next big thing in nutrition. Obesity could have more to do with sugar than fat.
  • When you look at packaging on your food, a good rule of thumb is that if there are more than five ingredients, that’s not so great.
  • Choose high fiber cereal. Fiber is good because it fills you up and is good for cholesterol.
  • Be careful when choosing bars. Look at calories and protein. My opinion-the bar below has lots of protein and low calories. Definitely a good choice.

  • Fruits-should be the size of a tennis or baseball. If you eat a big apple or a large banana, they can count as two servings as fruit. Eat as many fruit and vegetables as possible in a variety of colors. Have five servings a day of fruits and veggies combined.
  • A typical ice cream serving is 1/2 cup. She showed us this portion and I was shocked. It helped to visualize what I should be scooping into my dish though. If you like ice cream, she recommended buying bars instead. That helps with built-in portion control. Premium ice creams like Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen Das and custard are higher in fat.
  • Meats-it’s good to weigh them before cooking. They should fill up 1/3 of your dinner plate, or be the size of a deck of cards or a woman’s palm.
  • When eating at parties, remember that 4 cubes of cheese equals 1 oz., with 9 grams of fat. If you like cheese (like me and most Wisconsinites), pick a strong flavored cheese like feta, blue or gorgonzola. A little goes a long way. The teacher even suggested using shredded instead. You are more likely to nibble on a block of cheese as you cut it for meal prep. She said to freeze the shredded cheese and throw it on a salad in the morning–by lunch it will be perfect.
  • Pause point. Think before eating mindlessly. I often say to myself, do I really need to eat that right now?
  • A good snack is nuts of any kind. Portion out a golf ball size or 1/4 cup. Other good snacks-string cheese, laughing cow wedges with crackers.
  • Journal what you eat. People who journal are more successful in weight loss or maintaining their weight. Write down the calories you eat and track that. I do this with the Lose It! app.
  • If you crave sweets as a snack, you could really be dehydrated and craving water instead.
  • Greek yogurt-high in protein (14 g for Chobani, which I love), this amount of protein is equivalent to two pieces of meat. Our teacher likes Fage, which I have never tried. I got a little excited about this discussion. I gave my opinion to another class member about two yogurt brands that have recently come out with greek yogurt and I exclaimed, “those are awful.” Just my opinion, but they tasted really bad.

  • In general, Americans need to spend more money on food. In the past, we spent more on food and less on health care. Now it is sadly the opposite.

Hope this was helpful! If you have anything to add that has worked for you, please comment and share!

I definitely have been watching my portions more since I took this class.

5 responses to “Portion Distortion

  1. Wow – that IS a lot of information! πŸ˜‰

    I tend to listen to my body when it comes to portion control. I try to never eat until I’m full. I just eat until I am no longer hungry.

    I think equally important to the size of our portions is the content of our portions. It’s so easy sometimes to get caught up in “calorie counting” (or fat counting, or whatever), that we lose sight of the quality of the food we are eating. I totally agree with the last bullet point – we need to spend more money on higher-quality whole foods with which we can nourish our bodies.

    Thanks for sharing what you learned!

  2. Great points ThisAmericanDiet! She did not talk about the quality of the food a lot, but did touch on integrating more whole foods in general, if you don’t already.

    I am not sure if I wrote this note down correctly, but I think the teacher said that if you eat for five minutes straight, it can take about 20 minutes for your stomach to register that it is full. The tip about eating until you are no longer hungry is a great one!

    Someone in my class scoffed at the fact that she would have to spend more money to eat healthy foods. The teacher gave a great reply, “you will pay for it down the road with your health.” Our teacher works with cardiac patients, so she sees the results of fast food diets every day and has to retrain people to eat.

  3. She is right about paying for it later! Eating a diet high in processed foods, and cheap/convenient “to-go” foods, leaves our nutritional landscape lacking what our bodies need most: whole, nutritious foods without harmful additives, preservatives or other chemicals. Our American diet is responsible for so many of our ills; obesity, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, auto-immune disease, allergies… you name it! The bills we pay to hospitals FAR outweighs what we would spend on preventative nutrition.

    Eating CLEAN food seems to me more important than the amount of it we eat. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that once my mindset shifted from “dieting” to maintaining a healthful lifestyle, portion control was no longer an issue. When we view food as nourishment instead of as habit, and we consciously consider our meal choices, it becomes easy to manage our caloric intake.

    Nutrition has always interested me. Maybe I will go take a class, too! Save myself some reading… πŸ˜‰

  4. Pingback: Why I love the “Y” | Fit in the Midwest

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