Lose weight, save money, with healthy food portions

March 12, 2008

As consumers continue to pack on extra pounds, and food prices are on the rise, thinking about portion size may be the key to saving both calories and money. 

How do you know a reasonable portion of food when you see it? Visualize the objects mentioned below when eating out, planning a meal, or grabbing a snack. For example, the amount of meat recommended as part of a healthful meal is 3-4 ounces—and it will look about the same size as a deck of cards.

What normal portion sizes should look like:

  • 1 oz. meat: size of a matchbox
  • 3 oz. meat: size of a deck of cards or bar of soap—the recommended portion for a meal
  • 8 oz. meat: size of a thin paperback book
  • 3 oz. fish: size of a checkbook
  • 1 oz. cheese: size of 4 dice
  • Medium potato: size of a computer mouse
  • 2 Tbs. peanut butter: size of a ping pong ball
  • 1/2 cup pasta: size of a tennis ball
  • Average bagel: size of a hockey puck. It’s common now for bakeries and grocery stores to carry jumbo bagels that measure 4 ¼ inches across and contain 300-400 calories each. A regular, 3-inch-diameter bagel has about 150 calories and counts as 2 servings of bread in the grain group).

To eat smaller portions try the following ideas:

When eating out

  • Choose a regular hamburger at your favorite fast food stop instead of the larger burger, and save about 150 calories.
  • Have the small fries instead of the super-sized and save about 300 calories.
  • Order water instead of soda or juice.
  • Share an entrée with a friend when you go to a restaurant.
  • Order an appetizer instead of an entree.
  • Ask for half your meal to be packed for you and eat it for lunch the next day.
  • Best of all, cook at home.

At home:

  • Don’t “eat from the bag.” When snacking, place a few chips, crackers or cookies in a bowl to help prevent overeating.
  • Like butter and sour cream on your baked potato? Mayonnaise and cheese on your sandwich? Cream cheese on your bagel? Use half the amount you usually do—and save even more calories by using lower-fat varieties.
  • Put away the big plates and eat every meal off a dessert sized plate. You’ll be surprised at how much less you eat but still feel full.

Boost Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

The American cancer Society (ACS) recommends five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day to help prevent cancer. Since the serving sizes are relatively small, most people can easily follow the recommendations. Substitute low calorie, high-fiber fruits and vegetables for higher calorie foods and snacks; they’ll help fill you up and you’ll save on calories!

The following list explains the size, shape, and/or look of one serving:

  • medium apple or orange: the size of a tennis ball
  • 1 cup chopped raw vegetables or fruit: baseball size
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots, mango): a small handful
  • cup of lettuce: four leaves
  • chicken stir-fry with 1 cup of mixed broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms (= 2 vegetable servings)
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas)
  • 5-6 baby carrots



4 Responses to “Lose weight, save money, with healthy food portions”

  1. joyfulploys Says:

    I like your idea of food democracy. We have cut back on our food intake. Good tips about eating out. I can’t eat a “normal-sized” portions when I oder out at a restaurant…it’s too much food. I have just started my blog: http://joyfulploys.wordpress.com

  2. […] also want to check out Lose, Weight, Save Money With Healthy Food Portions, Homestead.org and Homesteading Today for more ideas on living a simpler, more self-sufficient […]

  3. Hillary Says:

    That’s what those 100 calorie packs are for! Haha. But seriously, those people are geniuses.

  4. David Goldbeck Says:

    A critical underpinning of a healthy diet is unquestionably the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, many adults do not like these fine foods – so kids are the concern. Parents and teachers interested in getting kids to develop a friendly attitude towards fruits and vegetables should take a look at a new book called “The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond.” Out only a few months and already being bought in quantity for class use.Great for kids of all ages as it is two books in one – children first learn their alphabet through produce poems and then go on to more mature activities. Out only six months it is already being used in educational programs. It is coauthored by best-selling food writer David Goldbeck (me) and Jim Henson writer Steve Charney. You can learn more at HealthyHighways.com

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