When I’m at a Mexican restaurant eating chips and salsa, guac, and/or queso (usually all three), there is no such thing as portion control. Instead, I exercise Cantina Control and only go to Mexi restos when I’m okay with a binge-fest because it’s always inevitable.
But that’s just me. As for who CAN control herself, it’s our health + fitness expert Cara Weaver, here to talk about portion control (she covered this in her Healthy 101 seminar last week), and we snapped some fun (or in some cases, depressing) photos of serving sizes. Let’s dig in!
The growth in Americans’ waist sizes are directly linked to the growth in portion sizes! We are over-served everywhere we go, even at “healthy” venues. Too much of a good thing is true, so no matter how clean we eat, we have to understand how much is enough for our OWN bodies!
And just as important as controlling the amount on the plate/bowl (or wine glass!) is knowing the nutritional value of each serving size so you can quickly assess what your meal or snack should be made up of. Let’s check out some common eats:
Boar’s Head turkey breast | 2 oz. serving = 60 calories, 0 g carbs, 1 g fat, 13 g protein
A serving is a pretty decent amount, and look at those waistline-friendly stats! This is definitely enough for a sandwich (or a quick, high-protein snack) and you could use a little more than the serving size if you aren’t pairing it with a bunch of cheese, mayo, etc. Just watch for sodium; I often get the low-sodium selection.
Sabra roasted garlic hummus | 2 tbsp. serving = 70 calories, 5 g carbs, 5 g fat, 2 g protein
While hummus has 5 g fat, only 1 g is saturated, so it’s definitely not bad for you. It’s a great snack with veggies–the problem is that we tend to go overboard with crackers or those to-die-for baked pita chips. Bottom line: Chow down, but in moderation. (Also, that portion size should be a tad larger–looks like Ashley took a few chip dips.)
Newman’s Own Lite Italian dressing | 2 tbsp. serving = 60 calories, 1 g carbs, 6 g fat, 0 g protein
Look at that teeny-tiny pour! Salad dressing can ruin the skinny factor of a healthy salad in an instant. I recommend making your own (or using extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper) or just a drizzle of store-bought dressing. The stats of this dressing certainly aren’t bad, but just be aware of how much you’re using. And the key is tossing it really well–putting your salad in a covered container (a la Whole Foods), drizzling some dressing on it, and shaking it like a Polaroid picture (but harder) is the key for coating every last piece of lettuce.
And now…..the one you’ve all been dreading:
Tostitos Crispy Rounds tortilla chips | 28 g serving = 140 calories, 18 g carbs, 7 g fat, 2 g protein
Tostitos medium chunky salsa | TWO 2 tbsp. servings = 20 calories, 2 g carbs, 0 g fat, 0 g protein
Yes, ladies and gents, that is a whole 13 CHIPS! And we did two servings of salsa because who has ever eaten one serving of salsa in life? No one. Salsa is fine and dandy to eat anytime (it can be nutritious, especially if it’s homemade), but the chips and their empty, vicious calories will get you (especially those greasy restaurant ones). We discussed the portion control tactic of limiting your salsa (4 tbsp. in this case) then quitting your chip intake when the salsa is gone.
Which still made some people very upset…
Kashi Go Lean Crunch | 1 c. serving = 200 calories, 38 g carbs, 3 g fat, 9 g protein
A cup is a pretty large serving size (read: if you’re having two bowls every morning and can’t seem to lose those extra lbs, this could be a culprit). With some skim milk and berries, this is a healthy meal, PLUS a serving has 8 g of good-for-you fiber. Just don’t plop down with your Kashi box in front of the Kardashians or you’ll be looking like Kim K. (when she was preggers) in no time.
And saving the best for last…
Wine | 5 oz. pour = 125 calories, 4 g carbs, less than 1 g protein and fat
A 5 oz. pour is not too shabby! Wine can vary by a few cals depending on type, but the stats above are almost always accurate for both reds and whites. I don’t have to tell you these are empty calories, but it’s also my adult beverage of choice, so I’m willing to soak ‘em up then burn ‘em off on the reg (click here for how exactly to do that). In case anyone is wondering, there are about 25 oz. in a bottle of wine, so if you polish it all off yourself (hey, it happens!), that’s 625 calories and 20ish g carbs, which is still about 220 calories less than a Chick-fil-a #1 meal (classic sandwich + medium waffle fries). SCORE (sorta’). And if you’re a champagne drinker, you’re in luck! For the same size pour of bubbly, it’s only 90-100 calories and 2ish g carbs.
Tips for keeping eating under control at home:
- Don’t eat standing up or in front of media (TV, computer, iPhone).
- Don’t eat out of the bag, box, or jar!
- Eat when you are hungry. If you wait too long for your “meal time,” you will graze before and/or dive into a larger meal when it is finally time to eat.
- Don’t graze (snack) while cooking or feeding children.
- Don’t put family-style dinners out where extra servings are in your face (you can make exceptions for holidays).
- Slow down eating and enjoy each bite. (Parent tip: This is a great thing to teach kids now before they shovel it in like we often do.)
- Drink lots of water. A glass before the meal is a great way to go in less hungry and help slow your roll.
And when you’re out:
- Cut your meal in half. It’s easier said than done, but if you know you’ll be able to enjoy it a few hours later, it helps (great for work lunches when you can have leftovers for dinner).
- Don’t try to eat the same portions as the person you are with just because they are. If you require less food, then eat less food!
- Put just one small slice of bread from the basket on your plate and eat it slowly (if you must eat it at all!). Count out 10-12 chips at Mexican restaurants and don’t grab from the bowl. (Again, these are just strict guidelines, as we know “some people” could never adhere to this one.)
- Don’t be shy about sharing a meal or ordering an appetizer and salad as a main dish. Your health and body goals are more important than any smart ass comments that might come from bigger eaters at the table.
- Drinking water and slowing down to enjoy each bite apply here, too!
- Get up and go to the restroom about halfway through your meal. Standing up and taking a deep breath, stretching and taking a minute away from conversation and influences of others to assess how full you are is a great way to listen to your body. You may go back to the table and be ready to push the plate to the side and ask for a box or share with someone eyeing your meal (like if you dine with Ashley).
Enjoy, contact (or Tweet!) me with questions, and take control of your plate (and wine glass),
Check out Cara’s site for health and fitness awesomeness, sign up for the email list to receive updates (including the next Healthy 101 seminar), and take one of her badass classes at Flywheel Atlanta!