Don’t worry, it’s not your fault that this has become so confusing. Over the past 40 years portion sizes have grown dramatically (in restaurants and on people’s plates). And since 1985 alone adults are consuming 300 more calories a day than before.*
Many of us don’t know what a healthy portion is. Restaurants often serve extras like breadsticks, chips and appetizers with no nutritional value. And some meals served to one person come with two or more portions.
Let’s sort this out then**:
Portion: how much food you choose to eat at one time. (Anywhere – your kitchen, a restaurant, party etc). Your portion size is totally under your own control. Many foods comes as a single portion but contain multiple servings.
Serving Size: this is the amount of food listed on the product’s Nutrition Facts label. This is the serving size suggested by the manufacturer if it’s a packaged product. Serving sizes for fruits, vegetables, and meats is set by the USDA and FDA and other health organizations. Understanding the difference between your portion and a serving size is key!
Keep your serving size in mind when you dish out your portions, and remember which fuel sources your body needs most! So what do we need? The blog will be going in depth about each nutrient in the months to follow, but for now here is a graphic for you and a bit to make it a little easier.
Yes you do need carbs! This is the number one fuel source for your body. It’s the gas for your vehicle if you will. It’s the number one nutrient that helps your body run efficiently. You need it to control blood sugar and function normally on a daily basis. Without it your body will develop all types of issues. We just need to choose the right carbs! That means no (or less to start) refined sugars, and pastas. Whole grain pasta, breads, leafy greens and vegetables are good sources of carbs. More on carbs in the Fall of 2017.
Vegetables – these contain many different nutrients. They are low calories foods that are high in fiber and filling. That’s why filling your plate half full will fill you up and keep you healthy.
Lean Meat, Poultry & Fish – This is where protein comes in. These are made up of amino acids which support muscles, and other tissues in the body. They are necessary for digestion, as well as growth. They come from both plants and animals. They are in beans, dairy, grains, seafood, and meats. This is the last source of energy for the body to use because it’s so necessary to organs, immune function and internal body function and cell reproduction. Protein is only burned when you have spent all other resources in your body (and are likely beginning to starve). Most Americans get enough protein, but the sources might not always be the healthiest protein. Adding some seafood will help that balance. What we eat with this nutrient: chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, dairy, beans. More on protein in the Fall of 2017.
Of course this is what we all do not want on or in our body but we need it. This is the second energy source for your body. Once you burn through your carbs your body will go to the fat to burn it next. This helps with certain vitamin absorption, keeps cell membranes healthy, helps our organs and so much more. There are different types of fats, but the most important thing to know is – too much of any fat can be detrimental for your health. The right balance between fats is important for optimal function and metabolism. More in depth on fat coming up in the Fall 2017.
So next time you are going to fill your plate at home, or a restaurant you want to think about serving size and make your portions match! If your plate comes too full, you can always save the rest for leftovers for a few days! Fill up with vegetables and a serving of fruits and yogurts before heading to the meats, and carbs. Enjoy your meals!
* American Heart Association & Robert Woods Foundation
** National Institutes of Health
Feeling like your body is not what you want? Need to change something but don’t even know where to start? We have our 7 Day Healthy Habits Challenge (FREE!) starting Sept. 18! Check it out here.
Just not feeling like your best self? Sign up for our email list. We will send you our FREE E-book – 10 Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You, and periodically we will share free recipes, tips, tools and more! This book will help you think about what might be going on with your body and how to get started fixing it.