The Truth: All foods have calories, and all calories, whether they're healthy or not, count — and add up! You still need to practice portion control whether you're eating a salad or a burger.
Americans have completely skewed ideas about portion size. No other country on earth offers portions as enormous as the ones we have here. Seriously, go anywhere else in the world and order a meal and you'll see the difference. We get excited to "super" or "value"-size our meals because we've been conditioned to believe that more equals better, but that is not necessarily true. How do you feel when you eat so much your stomach hurts? Not good, I bet. Even when you're eating healthy foods, it's important to measure out your portions and keep a watch on what you're eating.
Familiarize yourself with what healthy portions look like. It's easier for me to think of measurements in comparison to objects, so I can visualize it better. Here are a few to keep in mind that will make it easy when you aren't home and able to measure: 1 cup of yogurt, cereal, soup or pasta is equal to the size of a baseball; 3 oz. of most cooked meat is equivalent to a deck of cards; 1 sandwich on regular sliced bread is equal to two decks of cards; 3 oz. of cooked fish is equal to the size of a checkbook; and 1 cup of lettuce or cooked veggies is about the size of a wine glass. A few other cheats are to use the tip of your finger (from the first joint up) as a teaspoon and your thumb as a guide for a tablespoon. Jot these down on a piece of paper and keep it in your wallet until you start to commit them to memory to make measuring easier.
Use smaller plates. A recent study from Cornell University found that people who ate off of smaller plates believed that they were eating an average of 18 percent more calories than they actually were. No plate that you eat off of should be the size of a platter, or a restaurant-sized plate. Your dinner plate should be no bigger than 10 inches across. Some people even make their salad plate their main dinner plate because it keeps them from heaping it up with food. Whatever you choose to eat for dinner should fit on this size plate. If it doesn't fit on the plate — don't eat it, it's that simple! I know this can be a difficult rule to follow at restaurants when the plates and portion sizes are huge. Here is a little trick I use: Before my food even comes to the table, I ask the water to wrap half of it up in a to-go box. This way you have two meals for the price of one and only half the calories! Another idea is to share an entrée with a friend.
Make a commitment to eating healthy portions. When it comes to keeping your portion sizes healthy, a lot of the struggle is mental. It honestly isn't as much of a hassle as you think it is to measure things out — it only adds a few extra minutes onto your meal. Anything worth having in life requires sacrifice, time, and effort! Remind yourself every day of your healthy goals and that will help to keep you on track and motivated.
The Bottom Line: Being healthy is about eating healthy foods — and healthy portions. There are some tips and tricks to help you keep track of portion sizes, but it really boils down to you making a commitment.