Test Your Portion Size IQ
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Eating With Your Eyes continued...
Her suggestion: Keep your portion sizes the same, but cut calories by
lowering the fat in your dishes and adding more low-calorie ingredients like
vegetables. Rolls and other researchers at Penn State found that study
participants were satisfied with the same-size portion of food even when the
calories were reduced by a third. They also found that the participants were
less likely to notice a 25% calorie reduction than a 25% reduction in portion
"Most people are not immediately sensitive to the amount of calories in
a meal, but they are very sensitive to how much they eat," Rolls says.
Indeed, the Penn State researchers found that when study subjects were
allowed to eat as much as they wanted of the reduced-calorie foods, they ate
800 fewer calories per meal.
"Adding volume to foods with nutritious ingredients had a significant
impact on calorie intake and is a tremendous tool for weight loss," Rolls
You can try this at home by making simple modifications to your favorite
recipes so you can enjoy larger portions of healthier foods. Pump up the volume
of your meals by tossing vegetables, fruits, and beans into casseroles, sauces,
soups, salads, stews, and egg dishes. And lower the fat content by reducing
added oils and fats, and choosing low-fat or no-fat varieties of ingredients
whenever you can.
Getting Started: Portion Style
So how can you get your own portions under control? Young recommends
evaluating your eating style to set yourself up for success.
For example, if you're a member of the clean plate club, keep the serving
dishes off the table, use a luncheon-sized plate, and wrap up leftovers
immediately to avoid temptation.
If restaurant meals are your downfall, order soup and salad instead of an
entrée, and don't forget to move the bread or tortilla chip basket out of
reach. If you can resist the temptation to finish your meal, portion off a
third to a half and bring it home to enjoy for lunch the next day.
And what if you're partial to buffets?
"Take a lap around the table first to check it out, and then fill up on
healthy foods first such as salads, fruits and vegetables," Young
Fill your second plate (not to overflowing) with small portions of the more
nutritious foods available. Try not to go back and refill your plate after
that. Instead, sit back, drink a glass of water, and assess your hunger.