|DID YOU KNOW?|
Maintaining a balanced diet is tough, but being knowledgeable about appropriate portion sizes can help your patients and clients better understand the quantity of food they are actually consuming. The ability to judge the amount one is eating is essential to making sensible choices for a balanced diet.
Most people do not realize that "serving size" and "portion size" are not always the same. Remind your patients and clients that the Nutrition Facts panel defines a serving size of food. All the information on the panel refers to serving size but a portion size is the amount of food that one selects to eat, which may be larger or smaller than the serving size and will therefore have a varied nutrition profile.
Most people typically have difficulty quantifying amounts of food without using common kitchen tools such as measuring cups, measuring spoons, or food scales. Practical portion size measurement aids are familiar objects that your patients and clients can easily visualize in order to estimate the size of food portions.
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words
The illustrations below show how the same portion looks in different sized containers, different forms (i.e. sliced, cubed, whole) and different dispersions (i.e. mound, covering a plate). This can help you demonstrate to your patients and clients the importance of paying close attention to how much they are really eating.
After demonstrating the visual implications of portion size, you can illustrate the impact of what different portion sizes have on the nutritional value* of what is being consumed.
*Calculated from the USDA Nutrient Database
In this example, the container size, form, and dispersion directly impact the portion size selected. Double the portion means double the calories and fat. Food consumption studies have indicated that people tend to eat more when they select and are served larger portion sizes. The key is to choose smaller portions that are still satisfying and to create an environment that encourages one to do so.
Portion-Proof Your Environment
Here are some tips you can share with your patients and clients to help them to control portions of meals and snacks: