Portion Control is the Key to a Successful Diet

Dr. Jeffrey Heit Health Guide October 10, 2008
  • Many of us who are trying to lose weight and deciding which diet to try often overlook a painfully obvious source of calories- portions!! Our country has been inundated with large portions of just about everything, from "Super size" French fries to "Big Gulp" drinks that could supply a medium sized family for weeks. Often though, it's not as plain as that. It's a more subtle trap people tend to fall into.

     

    Take the following examples. You're at a barbecue and it's time for lunch. For some reason, barbecues seem to have their own unique "code" of food quantity. Two to perhaps three entrees are the norm. Start out with a hamburger on a roll and potato salad. That's usually enough for a complete dinner. However, when outside at a barbecue, that's not nearly enough. I, myself, usually like to follow it up with a hot dog and beans. Maybe you're more of a Shish kabob type.  Basically, I've just had two full meals but feel like I've only had one- after all, this is a barbecue. Sometimes, one hamburger isn't enough and two seems to do the trick.

     

    Are you a fan of buffets? - get all you can eat for just $9.99! This is a portion nightmare- essentially there is no such thing as a portion at a buffet. Some try to rationalize this by eating a lot of salad at buffets, but don't kid yourselves. Unless you are having salad without the dressing you're packing on more calories than you'd care to imagine. Most salad dressings are loaded with calories. A couple of dollops of a cream based dressing can have 70-150 calories per tablespoon. Moreover, because people view salads as "healthy", they're more likely to have bigger portions more often.

     

    The reality is that controlling one's portions can often decrease the total number of calories consumed, while at the same time, allowing the dieter to enjoy any and all types of foods he or she is used to eating. Go for the small French fries instead of the large or medium. A hamburger, small fries and diet soft drink at McDonalds® is only around 400 calories and can fill that need for comfort food if you feel like indulging.  Want a slice of cheesecake? Go ahead, but take approximately half of the slice you would ordinarily eat. Try to avoid going for seconds at meals. Often, people don't "register" that second, often, smaller helping as just a bigger portion with added calories.

     

    While seeming quite obvious, it's amazing how often people don't consider this as a weight loss strategy and feel they need to give up the foods they enjoy most to shed pounds. Frequently, depriving oneself of certain foods can lead to rebound binging and weight gain. Controlling portions is a simple and effective alternative to boring, deprivation based dieting. While many things are getting smaller these days, like our cars and wallets, keep food portions in mind. Too much of a good thing is not good for your waste line or health.