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Tip #6: Portion Awareness

Okay, its been a while since our last tip. I have been busy with three sick little boys, but we are on the mend now and mama can get back to doing some other things. I enjoyed every minute of the extra cuddles, but it was SO sad to see them so sick.

Hopefully you have been able to make tips 1-5 part of your daily lifestyle….eating breakfast, drinking more water, filling plates with lots of colour, eating an apple a day to keep the “hangry” away, and planning ahead for meals and snacks.

This next tip ties in with the snack and meal planning process. Portion awareness is huge for a continued healthy lifestyle. Understanding what a “food guide serving” is compared to what you serve on your plate (your potion) provides an important step for mindfulness around our eating habits. Visual comparisons really help with this process.

For example, a food guide serving of pasta is 1/2 cup. Most restaurants serve 3-4 cups of pasta. How can you ensure appropriate portion sizes at home? A visual of a tennis ball can help. A tennis ball is about the same size as 1/2 cup. It is also about the size of a “medium” fruit serving. A golf ball shows us what 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter looks like. And a deck of cards is a good visual on 2.5-3 oz of meat/poultry/fish.

This is not to say that your portion has to be those sizes, but you can understand how many “food guide servings” you are having if you use those visuals. Then you can use that to help plan your day to ensure that you have adequate, but not overabundant, servings of whole grains, meats and alternatives, and milk and milk alternatives. Then ensure that you load up on fruits and veggies of all different colours.

If you are interested in knowing more about what Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends, check out this link. You can even order your own copy to post on the fridge for the family to see every day!

So once we are aware of portions, how can we translate this into portion control? Here are a few strategies that I like to use/recommend:

  1. At lunch and supper, fill half your plate with vegetables, 1/4 healthy starch, 1/4 protein.
  2. At snacks, try to have 1/2-1 food guide serving from a minimum of 2 different food groups.
  3. For foods that are more calorie-dense, choose smaller plates/bowls. I like to do this with ice cream 🙂
  4. Ensure that you put you food in a bowl or on a plate rather than just consuming handfuls of food. The latter leaves you uncertain of how much you have consumed.
  5. When a large portion is served to you in a restaurant, ask for a second plate (or take-away container) at the start of the meal. Put the portion that you want to consume on one plate, and the remainder on another. That way, you will be less tempted to over-consume.

I hope that these tips are useful for you and you can be more aware and in control of the amount of food on your plate and in your body.

Until next time…stay healthy!




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