Tips For Eating Healthy Portions of Carbs and Calories

Eating reasonable portions of the foods we enjoy helps us maintain a healthy weight, and keep our blood sugar under control.

If we think of our diet as a bank account, then wise food choices are good investments. However, being a wise investor does not mean denying ourselves the foods we relish. We just have to be sensible about how much we invest at each meal.

Portion Tips

Here are nine tips related to food portions that can help us savor our favorite dishes, and still meet our health goals:

  1. When grocery shopping, look for thin-sliced bagels, breads, sandwich buns, and extra-thin tortillas. Slim sandwich buns can, for instance, save people 100 calories and 15 carb grams per serving over standard sandwich buns.
  2. Processing fresh foods tends to concentrate their carbohydrates and calories. For example, there are 15 carb grams in four whole fresh apricots, or in 1/2 cup of canned apricots in juice. We get 15 grams of carb from 1-1/4 cups of fresh strawberries, and from 1-1/2 tablespoons of all-fruit strawberry preserves.
  3. Research indicates people do better with portion control when plates are filled at the kitchen counter instead of at the dinner table. One study showed that when a big bowl with pasta was placed on the table, men consumed 29 percent more, and women 10 percent more than when the bowl was out of arm’s reach.
  4. There are fewer carbs in thin crust pizza than in thick, and pizza crust made from whole grain flour is not only more filling, but provides more glucose-friendly fiber.
  5. Weighing or measuring starchy foods at home can teach us to choose healthy carb portions when eating out. It’s good to know, for instance, that being served a 12 ounce baked potato gives us 70 carb grams, while a half cup, or about three ounces of boiled redskin potatoes contains only 17 grams.
  6. Since we chow down about 92 percent of what we pile on our plate, we can help ourselves by eating from 10 inch dinner plates instead of 12 inch. On smaller plates, we serve ourselves about 22 percent less food, and we take 14 percent less food when dishing-up with tablespoons instead of standard serving spoons.
  7. Keep in mind that people who chew their food thoroughly consume up to 12 percent fewer calories per meal. It takes a bit of practice to make chewing well a habit. We can start by noticing when we’re ready to swallow a bite of food, and then give it five to ten more chews.
  8. Divide leftovers into single-serving portions and store each portion in a separate container.
  9. Since most restaurant portions are enough for two (or three) people, consider getting a take-home box and packing up half the meal before eating. We may get a few curious looks doing this, but might also make it okay for others to do the same intelligent thing.

And finally, remember it’s not the minutes spent at a dinner table that adds calories and carb grams, it’s the seconds.

Sources: Dibetic Living; Wansink, Brian, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Bantam, 2007.

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