According to the AACP website, between 16 and 33% of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese (AACP). It’s time for adults to take better control of their own health and teach children healthy nutritional and exercise habits that will last a lifetime.
But knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. There are many diets, diet pills, and weight loss programs that claim to help people lose weight. But losing weight is just the beginning — keeping it off is the secret to a lifetime of healthy living.
Portion control is one of the most effective ways to lose or maintain weight. Teaching children to begin managing portions at an early age is also a good way to give them a healthy start.
Portion control means managing the amount of every food you choose to eat. Europeans know that this is an important secret that really works. Portion sizes in France and other European countries are very small compared to the United States’ serving sizes.
In the U.S., a turkey sandwich is mile-high pile of turkey, piles of cheese, lettuce, pickles, honey mustard, special sauces, and a lathering of mayonnaise on a thick, hearty hoagie bun.
By comparison, a turkey sandwich in France consists of two pieces of thinly sliced turkey, fresh tomato slices, and spicy mustard on a baguette or bagel. And to top it all off, the American version comes with a pile of potato chips or french fried potatoes while the French serve a side of fruit.
The calorie difference is huge!
Is it possible to make a real difference and learn healthy portion control? It is definitely possible and it starts by following these tips:
- Eat only until full. Stop before feeling stuffed. Remember that it takes 20 minutes for the brain to notify the stomach that it is full.
- Divide a plate in half. Fill 1/2 with vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, salad, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Now, divide the other 1/2 again. Fill one portion with pasta, potatoes, or peas. Fill the last 1/4 of the plate with lean meat, fish, poultry, or tofu. Use reasonable portions for all sections.
- Use a smaller plate for meals rather than loading up a large dinner plate. This will offer visual satisfaction and will make the smaller portions more appealing.
- Start each meal with a broth-based soup or fresh green salad and always drink a glass of water before meals.
- Manage the amount of every food eaten — whether it is a healthy food or a not-so-healthy food. Manage portion control every time. Most every food can be enjoyed because portions are well managed.
- Use visual cues to manage portions. For example, a cup of cereal is about the size of an average fist. An ounce and a half of cheese is about the size of 4 stacked dice. And 3 ounces of meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards. Learn what a serving size looks like and manage portions with these cues and visual aids.
Weight management can be a difficult issue but when portion control is used, it makes it much easier to eat healthier. Once portion control becomes a part of daily life, it can lead to weight loss and lifelong weight management.