Portion distortion

Posted 09/18/2013 | By HealthCorps

There’s a saying in nutrition that you are what you eat.  Most people correctly assume that the mantra refers to food “choices,” meaning that the kinds of foods you choose to eat on a regular basis help to determine your state-of-health.  Eat a diet that mostly consists of highly processed foods, and you may be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, a stroke or certain cancers because of your high sugar, fat and sodium intake.

Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and plant proteins and you may keep a number of diseases at bay.  Even someone who eats a mostly healthy diet needs to consider portion control, when it comes to a maintaining a healthy weight.  And there’s no doubt that when we put a health halo on foods like olive oil or whole grain breads, we may choose to overeat in the name of health.

So how do you identify a portion size?  The first thing you need to realize is that sometimes a portion and the “serving size” on a box of food may not be the same.

Visual cues can help you with the more simple food group choices and appropriate portions:

  • 4 ounces of lean meat or fish looks like an iPhone
  • A medium banana is about the length of a pencil
  • A serving of grains or potato should look like a small baseball mound
  • A serving of nuts should resemble a golf ball or fit in a small mint tin

More specifically, the American Heart Association has a wonderful online tool that can guide your choices and portions, according to a daily allotment of calories.   It’s an excellent general template for someone who is searching for a basic understanding of food groups and building a healthy daily menu plan.

Check it out here.

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