After the holidays, you might feel bombarded with media messages about how to un-do the dietary damage caused by all that eating over the holidays. These messages may be hard to stomach when you still have New Year’s Day leftovers in your refrigerator and a tin of cookies in your pantry! Instead of only focusing on what to eat and what not to eat, it is just as important to your health to consider how much to eat.
MyPlate emphasizes the importance of moderation by telling Americans to “Enjoy your food but eat less.” This message reinforces the idea that nearly all foods can have a place in a healthy, balanced diet, as long as they are consumed in moderation. (Even holiday leftovers!)
Over the past few decades, portion sizes have increased dramatically. A typical cup of coffee was 8 ounces twenty years ago and provided about 45 calories. Today, a grande café mocha with whipped cream can contain as many as 330 calories! Twenty years ago, a bagel was about 3 inches in diameter and provided about 140 calories, while today’s typical bagel packs over twice as many calories (about 350) and has doubled in size.
To keep your family’s portion sizes in check while still allowing them to enjoy their favorite foods, follow these tips:
- Always use a serving bowl when snacking to avoid “mindless eating”
- Use smaller-size dinner plates to give you the appearance of having a full plate while eating less
- If you must eat fast food, order from the kid’s menu
- At restaurants, split an entrée between two people or order an appetizer as your meal since they tend to serve larger portions than you would prepare at home
- If you eat meat, aim for a serving that is about the size of a deck of cards
- Ask for a ‘to-go’ container during your meal to put aside some of your meal and save it for later
- Use your freezer! Pop some of those holiday goodies into the freezer so that you continue to enjoy them in small doses for weeks to come
This year, in addition to paying attention to what types of foods your family is eating, don’t forget to also be mindful of how much they’re eating. Food is meant to be enjoyed, and enjoying food in moderation can help keep your family healthy.