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Portion Distortion

By Cathy L Wilson

What does a normal, healthy sized portion of food look like? Are the portions of food served in restaurants a single serving? No! In a platter of food served in a restaurant, there are multiple servings. We are used to thinking of the amount of food served in restaurants as a normal sized portion.

In only 1957, a "hamburger" weighed one ounce and had 206 calories. Today, that same "hamburger" weighs six ounces and packs over 600 calories. Now, that's portion distortion!

Typical restaurant entrees are often so large that they contain calories and fat in amounts appropriate for two people (or even more!). The problem is we've become so accustomed to being served impressive, plate-filling meals that we've lost sight of what healthy portions should look like. Restaurants, knowing that we equate quantity with value, aren't about to start serving us smaller, healthier portions-unless we ask for them. If you want something smaller - Ask! Let your food server know that you want a smaller version of the meal you're ordering.

So, if the food on the plate isn't a true portion, what does a serving size look like? Without pulling out your food scale, here are some ways to be in the know of your servings:

Protein (3 ounces of meat, fish and poultry) = Deck of playing cards.

Peanut butter (2 Tablespoons) = Ping pong ball.

Vegetables (1 cup of salad greens) = Baseball.

Fruit (1/2 cup of fresh fruit) = ½ of a baseball; Medium piece of fruit = Baseball.

Dairy and cheese (1-1/2 ounce cheese) = 4 stacked dice.

Fats (1 teaspoon margarine or spreads) = 1 dice.

Grains (1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or potato) = ½ baseball.

Here are some other strategies to keep restaurant portions in check:

-On your way to being seated, check out what other customers are eating; you'll get a sense of how the restaurant sizes its meals.

-Order your main meal from the "appetizer" side of the menu instead of the "entrée" side.

-Request that the kitchen split the meal in half and wrap it up before they even serve you. You can enjoy a smaller portion without being tempted to eat more than you should. And you can bring the leftover half home for the next day's meal.

-Share an entrée with a friend. (If there are four of you, share a couple of entrees, etc.)

-Ask for the bread and butter basket to be kept in the kitchen. Alternatively, ask for it to be placed at another location on the table other than by you.

-Review the restaurant's menu online before you pull into the parking lot of the restaurant. By planning ahead in this way, you'll know what you want to eat and you won't have to look at the menu. You won't be tempted because you were proactive in checking out the menu already. You already know your order before you sit down at your table.

When dining out with family and friends, don't leave your resolve at the door. Consider eating at a restaurant as a treat that you don't have to cook or clean after the meal, and it allows you to enjoy the company of others. Don't make your dining experiences as an excuse to indulge but focus on the dining experience, and being with family and friends.

Cathy Wilson is a weight loss life coach. Cathy lost 147 pounds six years ago. Her passion is helping clients achieve their weight loss and life goals. Cathy works with clients to create a weight loss life plan that is customized to each client. Cathy is a member of the International Coaching Federation, International Association of Coaches, and Obesity Action Coalition.

Visit Cathy's website: http://www.LoseWeightFindLife.com

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