The only way we’re going to get a grip on our ridiculous eating habits is by going back to the basics. Here’s the 411 on servings, portions and calories (oh, my!).
While these two phrases are used interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing:
A serving size is the recommended amount of food as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A portion size is the amount of food you put on your plate that you plan to eat in one sitting — which is usually way more than one serving.
The short answer: Portions are effing confusing! The long answer: While recommended servings are more or less the same, there are a ton of factors getting in the way of what we consider a portion — hence "portion distortion," which essentially means ginormous portions of food look normal to us. We eat whatever’s on our plate and pick it clean without considering the number of servings we’re shoveling in our mouths.
Doesn’t that make you want to order one of each?
It helps to learn the USDA's serving recommendations by heart to make sure you're a) receiving the necessary daily nutrients and b) maintaining healthy portion sizes.
No matter where you are or the size of the plate that’s plunked in front of you, you can quickly measure a proper portion size with your hands:
If you suck at portion control (you know, like me), then make sure you have the following on hand in your kitchen:
Your portion sizes are likely way bigger than they’re supposed to be. Between your large, fancy plates at home and the gigantic portions you receive at restaurants, the extra effort is well worth it to make sure you’re not mindlessly overindulging.
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