Day after day in my practice I hear patients complain that they can’t eat the foods they love.  And day after day I repeat myself to them that yes they can.  What my patients need to learn are portion sizes. In a lot of situations it isn’t what they are eating but how much they are eating. Too large a portion, plain and simple, becomes too many calories, which can lead to weight gain.

What is a correct portion size?

Teaspoon of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, oil = size of your thumb tip One ounce serving of cheese = six playing dice Two tablespoons peanut butter = size of a ping pong ball One ounce nuts = shot glass Three ounces of meat, poultry, or fish, or 10 french fries  = size of a women’s palm, size of a deck of cards or cassette tape Three ounces of fish = checkbook Half cup of cut fruit, vegetables, or grain (rice, couscous, barley)  = size of a small fist, ½ baseball One cup pasta = size of a tennis ball  

A medium potato = size of a computer mouse




One slice of bread = size of music DVD case

A good rule of thumb I like to use is really simple to remember — if it looks like too much food, it probably is!  You can eat pasta, rice and potatoes, but you need to make sure you are sticking with the correct portion. Obviously, if your pasta bowl is more the size of a bowling ball you are eating too much.

Another helpful tip is to make sure your dinner plate is balanced. Half of the plate should be filled with veggies and the other half divided into your grain and protein (chicken, fish, sirloin). If you can master this tip you are less likely to overeat.

So if you are in the mood for a steak and potato, enjoy. Choose a three-ounce lean cut of steak (sirloin, flank, ground round), a medium size potato (easy on the butter) and lots and lots of veggies.  A sandwich? Not a problem. Choose two slices of whole wheat bread (not a roll), three ounces of turkey, and pile high with the tomato, onion, cucumber and lettuce.

As with any change in your eating behavior, start off slowly. Resizing your food portions might not come easy at first, but if you stick with it, it is very rewarding. Who doesn’t want to fit into their favorite pair of jeans while still enjoying their favorite foods? Give it a try!

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