Haven't a clue what a serving of meat, mashed potatoes or pie looks like? The Portion Pals Food Management Tools ($18) are made for you! This five-disk set of color-coded translucent cards show you the correct portion sizes for meat, chicken, fish, side-dishes (such as potatoes or bread) and dessert, based on the USDA guidelines. These dishwasher- and microwave-safe rounds also double as cutting boards, which means you can place your foods on the appropriate disk and cut it down to a portion-friendly size. Available at www.portionpals.com.
Taking the guesswork out of portion sizing, The Portion Plate ($12) is a melamine, dishwasher-safe portion control plate that offers a tangible demonstration of how much food you should eat. Not only are the illustrated areas a good guide to follow, the components of a good meal are also presented. This means half of your plate should be a fruit and vegetable portion, one-fourth of your plate a whole grain portion, and the remaining one-fourth of your plate a lean protein meat portion. There's even a portion plate for kids, which is a fun way to teach your children healthy eating habits and prevent them from developing portion distortion. Available at www.theportionplate.com.
A good set of measuring cups can help you keep track of your portions, but that means an extra set of utensils to be cleaned up. The Measure Up Bowls are designed to measure food as well as be used for serving. These dishwasher- and microwave-safe portion bowls have serving sizes marked on the interior, so you know exactly how much food you're pouring in. The Classic Measure Up Bowl ($20) is for soups, cereals, fruits, pasta and other foods with larger serving sizes. The Small Measure Up Bowl ($14) is perfect for calorie-dense foods such as nuts, granolas and ice cream -- foods that are all too easy to overeat. The Measure Up Bowls also come in a two-bowl set, one Classic and one Small ($29.99). Available at www.measureupbowl.com.
While soft drink sizes at convenience stores range from large to ginormous (a.k.a. half-gallon size), a regular serving size of soda is only eight ounces (there are 64 ounces in a half-gallon, if you are wondering). A handy tool for you as well as your kids is the Natural Weight Portion Control Serving Glass ($8.50). This clear, tempered glass has measurements for four, six and eight ounces so you know exactly how much you are drinking. Warning: It's going to seem awfully small compared to the half-gallon mega cup at 7-Eleven. Available at www.portiondoctor.com.
Weighing your foods may seem tedious, yet it is the most accurate way to measure your portion sizes. A standard kitchen scale can certainly suffice, but if you're going to get a scale, why not buy one that also calculates calories, sodium, protein, fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol and fiber of nearly 1000 foods? The Escali Cibo Nutrition Scale ($60) does this and more; you can calculate the nutritional values of entire meals. This handsome scale has an easy to clean removable stainless-steel tray and can measure in grams, kilograms, ounces and pounds. And it won't take up much counter space. Available at www.smarthome.com.
When cooking at home, managing your portion sizes is far easier than when you step into the ring with restaurant plates and drive-thrus. A helpful tool to peruse before you dine out is Corinne T. Netzer's The Complete Book of Food Counts ($8). This completely revised and updated eighth edition provides the latest, most accurate information on the largest possible variety of foods. Netzer, America's most trusted authority on nutritional values, provides all the essential counts for generic and brand-name foods, ethnic foods, the latest gourmet and health foods, and dishes from popular fast-food and chain restaurants. You can use Netzer's book as you plan family meals at home or on-the-go. Available at major book retailers and www.amazon.com.
Learning portion control may seem arduous, but carrying around a lot of extra weight is a hefty alternative. Getting a handle on your family's portion sizes now will not only help you beat the battle of the bulge, it will also improve your health and ward off chronic, potentially life-threatening diseases related to overeating.
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