Know your serving size
When choosing a portion size at mealtime, the “serving size” suggested on food packaging may be a good start — and the recommended serving size may be smaller than you think. Here are some good rules of thumb:
- 3 0unces of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards
- 1 cup of pasta is the size of a baseball
- An ounce and a half of cheese is the size of a 9-volt battery
- ½ cup of popcorn is about one handful
- A serving size of bread is one slice
Get started by using measuring cups and spoons to serve your food. After a while, you’ll be able to “eyeball” the amount. Once you know what the recommended serving size looks like, you can decide what portion size is right for you. Your portion may be greater or less than the serving size, depending on how many other items you have on your plate.
Choose reasonable portions
The following guidelines will help you decide on a portion size, while providing your body the food variety it needs:
Vegetables and fruits: Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. And the key is color…lots of it. Having a variety of different colored vegetables and fruits usually means that you’re getting various vitamins and minerals that you need in your diet.
Grains: Fill one quarter of your plate with grains — and the more whole grains, the better. Whole wheat bread and brown rice are much better for you than white bread and white rice, and other foods made from “refined grains.”
Protein: Fill one quarter of your plate with protein — and not all proteins are created equal! Healthy sources of protein include fish, chicken, beans, and eggs. Try to limit your intake of red meat or processed meats such as hamburg, bacon, and hot dogs.
Oils: In limited amounts, healthy plant oils should be included in your diet. Oils such as olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, and peanut oil are better for you partially hydrogenated oils or butter.
Water: Water is the only beverage that can give your body everything that it needs to process your meal, restore fluids you’ve lost through sweat and metabolism, and quench your thirst. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average man should drink 125 ounces of water a day (equivalent to about ten cans of soda) and the average woman should drink 91 ounces of water a day (equivalent to about seven and a half cans of soda). Remember: add a twist of lime or a little fresh mint for an inexpensive glass of flavored water!