by Lisa Golebieski, M.S.
Ever since having children, many (but not all) restaurants around the country that I have been to served an over abundent amount of food….more than a child (or even an adult) is supposed to eat during a meal. I’ve seen portions that contained at least three to four servings of food that could literally feed a family of three or four.
As a visual measure, the size of a child’s stomach (and an adult’s as well), is the size of our fist. If you place your fist against your abdomen, this is the estimated size of a normal, un-stretched stomach. The stomach of an obese child or adult is stretched out at least four to five times the size. It is stretched because of the excess amount of food eaten during meals and snacks.
Paying attention to serving sizes is so important to our overall weight. The main reason for a serving size is to help us maintain the normal sized stomach we are supposed to have in order to stay healthy. It is not normal for us to have a stomach stretched beyond it’s normal size due to eating too many servings of food. That is where obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, raised blood pressure and a plethora of health conditions that can negatively affect life.
Some rules of thumb for correct serving sizes when dining out or at home when serving meals include:
- Reading the serving sizes on food packages……eat only the amount per serving per person.
- Buy a scale and weigh the amount of food you should be eating according to serving size.
- Use your HAND for the most convenient way to measure your food. Teach your children and families this technique.
- Use your fist to measure one cup of rice, pasta, fruits and veggies
- Palm of your open hand for meat, fish, tofu and poultry
- One handful of nuts and raisins
- Two handfuls of baked chips, popcorn or pretzels
- Thumb to measure peanut butter and hard cheese
- Thumb tip for oils, mayo, butter and sugar
- When eating out look at the plate of food, draw an imaginary line through the middle of the plate and only eat half. Ask the server for a “To-Go” container and save the other half for leftovers the next day.
- Share a meal …..this is the easiest way to avoid overeating at a restaurant.
- Avoid the Kids Menu which can be laden with fried foods and have children order from the regular/appetizer menu. There may be healthier choices to choose from which can be shared to reduce the serving size.
- If your child insists on ordering from the Kids Menu, ask the waiter to substitute French fries/chips for a fruit, vegetable or side salad.
- If you have two children…..have them spilt a kid’s meal. As mentioned earlier, most kids meals have three or more servings on each plate which can easily be shared.
- Buy individually wrapped/containers of snacks to control the amount consumed. When you open a bag of chips and eat from them, we tend to eat the entire bag without noticing how much consumed.
- Control what is in your pantry. Food shop without your children so that you are not pressured into buying unhealthy food choices. I highly recommend reading “The Pantry Principle” by Mira Dessy, NE. She explains “How to read the label and understand what’s really in your food”.
- Keep a nibble tray in your refrigerator with cut up veggies, humus, dried fruits, pita chips and another one filled with a variety of fruits. These will encourage healthier snacking.
We are all in control of what we intake into our bodies and what we feed our children/families. It is our responsibility as members of society to break the obesity epidemic. Statistically obese children have a higher risk of mortality than children of a healthy weight. They are also more likely to grow up to be obese adults thus cutting their life expectancy. These are sad statistics……why should something like the over-consumption of food be to blame? Clearly, it’s not fair but the first step is to be aware and acknowledge what the commercial food industry is trying to do to us……create an environment of overeating and pushing unhealthy food choices….especially through advertising. Realizing that we have the CHOICE to live a healthier lifestyle gives us the power to make our bodies normalize allowing for longevity. Remember, we only get one life and one body to carry us through life…..like a car or machine, we must take the utmost care of it every single day if we want to strive for a long happy journey.
Let’s support “Healthy Serving Size Awareness”……..for life!
Lisa Golebieski, MS, Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Certified Health Coach
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