Do you know what a normal portion of food looks like? No, not the portion they serve in restaurants. How many true portions are in the meals they serve in restaurants? We are accustomed to thinking of platters as what a normal, healthy portion, serving size should be. We are used to the food contained in a restaurant portion the norm.
In only 1957, a “hamburger” weighed one ounce and had 206 calories. Today, that same “hamburger” weighs six ounces and packs over 600 calories. Now, that’s portion distortion!
Typical restaurant entrees are often so large that they contain calories and fat in amounts appropriate for two people (or even more!). The problem is we’ve become so accustomed to being served impressive, plate-filling meals that we’ve lost sight of what healthy portions should look like. Restaurants, knowing that we equate quantity with value, aren’t about to start serving us smaller, healthier portionsunless we ask for them. If you want something smaller – Ask! Let your food server know that you want a smaller version of the meal you’re ordering.
So, if the food on the plate isn’t a true portion, what does a serving size look like? Without pulling out your food scale, here are some ways to be in the know of your servings:
Protein (3 ounces of meat, fish and poultry) = Deck of playing cards.
Peanut butter (2 Tablespoons) = Ping pong ball.
Vegetables (1 cup of salad greens) = Baseball.
Fruit (1/2 cup of fresh fruit) = ½ of a baseball; Medium piece of fruit = Baseball.
Dairy and cheese (1-1/2 ounce cheese) = 4 stacked dice.
Fats (1 teaspoon margarine or spreads) = 1 dice.
Grains (1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta or potato) = ½ baseball.
Here are some other strategies to keep restaurant portions in check:
-On your way to being seated, check out what other customers are eating; you’ll get a sense of how the restaurant sizes its meals.
-Order your main meal from the “appetizer” side of the menu instead of the “entrée” side.
-Request that the kitchen split the meal in half and wrap it up before they even serve you. You can enjoy a smaller portion without being tempted to eat more than you should. And you can bring the leftover half home for the next day’s meal.
-Share an entrée with a friend. (If there are four of you, share a couple of entrees, etc.)
-Ask for the bread and butter basket to be kept in the kitchen. Alternatively, ask for it to be placed at another location on the table other than by you.
-Review the restaurant’s menu online before you pull into the parking lot of the restaurant. By planning ahead in this way, you’ll know what you want to eat and you won’t have to look at the menu. You won’t be tempted because you were proactive in checking out the menu already. You already know your order before you sit down at your table.