The recommended daily intake of calories for adult women is between 1,800 and 2,000, while men should average between 2,200 and 2,400. Yet, today’s sizes have made that number feel smaller and smaller. Portions have risen drastically over the last twenty years with the rise of fast food and “supersized” meals, while serving sizes have remained relatively small. The distinction is that serving sizes is what’s recommended, while portions can be as big or small as you want them to be – it’s just the amount of food you eat. Studies show that “the bigger the portion, the more [people eat],” which leads to 30% increase in food consumed in larger portions. Across the board, men, women, and children will consume more food if it’s given. The book French Women Don’t Get Fat was founded on the principle that people should eat what they want and enjoy – pastries, wine, chocolate, everything – in moderation. The key to a happier and healthier lifestyle, according to Mireille Guiliano, is not to cut the foods you love out of your life, but savor them and eat them less. Another thing to consider is exactly how you fill your portions; plate guides like MyPlate and Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate are good examples of how large your servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins should be.
Ultimately, you’re the only one who knows your body; stop when you’re full. Don’t feel like you need to finish the portion that someone else sized out for you. If you’re afraid of being wasteful, take home leftovers. When you’re at restaurants, look at your plate, and compare it to what you would serve yourself at home, and then adjust from there. Put your snacks on a plate so you don’t find yourself mindlessly finishing an entire bag of tortilla chips. Eat on smaller plates – they’ll make your portions look larger and help you size down. Drink a large glass of water before you every meal. Don’t eat while you’re watching TV; you’ll forget what you’re doing without noticing that you’re just stuffing your face.
It’s easy to surpass your recommended daily intake, but try to take note of the size of your meal before you eat it. Simple changes in the way you think about serving size can help you shed pounds and feel better.
To read more about today’s health issues, check out our series on nutrition.