How much is too much? Portion Control 101

“I know what I should be eating, but how much should I be eating?”

“Is it possible to eat too much of the good stuff?”

These are some of the most common questions when it comes to health and nutrition. It can be easy to go overboard, even when we are talking about nutritious foods, which is why it’s good to have some tools in your toolbox to help keep portion sizes in check.

First up, get rid of the dinner plate.

Kidding, but not really. You might want to keep them around for when you’re entertaining guests! We often eat with our eyes, first, and fill our plates higher and wider than our stomachs can handle. Opting for the salad plate can help keep portion sizes under control.

The feeling of satiety can be directly related to the “volume” on the plate. The same amount of food on a dinner plate might leave you feeling a little less satisfied than on a salad plate, which has the appearance that you are getting more for your buck.

The Four Quadrants

We’ve talked about this before, but repetition is what makes things stick, right? Think about your plate as if it is divided into four quadrants.

  • Quadrants 1 & 2: Fruits and (mostly) vegetables. Here we are looking to fuel our bodies with the nutrients it needs to thrive with foods that are high in volume, but lower in calories to contribute towards a feeling of fullness.
  •  Quadrant 3: Whole grains or more vegetables. In this quadrant we are after fiber, which can be found through whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels (which prevents the energy crash and burn) and promotes a healthy digestive system.
  • Quadrant 4: Lean protein. The essential building blocks for muscles and tissues in the body, protein is one of the three nutrients that provides calories which can be translated to energy!

Off the grid = healthy fats. A little bit of healthy fats can go a long way in keeping the body fueled with energy, balance hormones and lead to that feeling of satisfaction after a meal.

Let’s get a better visual on portion sizes.

  • Lean protein = size of your palm or a deck of cards
  • Whole grains, fruits and veggies = size of your closed fist or a tennis ball (about 1/2 cup)
  • Nuts, dried fruit and cheese = four dice or a shot glass (1 ounce)
  • Nut butters and oils = tip of your thumb (1 Tablespoon)
  • Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables = limitless!

Let these tips and visuals guide you next time you ask the question, “how much is too much?”!

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