Portion Distortion: How Much Should You Eat?


Remember the trusty food pyramid and food groups that divided and filled your plate? It’s gone the way of the dodo, and in its place is a more holistic healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Aim for 2 cups of fruit, 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 5 to 10 ounces of grains daily. Protein foods like lean meats, nuts and beans should comprise 5 to 7 ounces daily. And you should shoot for 3 cups of low-fat dairy products like skim milk and yogurt. Solid fats and sodium should be kept to a minimum, as should sweets. 

So what does all this mean for your plate? Try filling half of it with fruits and vegetables at each meal. One-quarter of it should be covered with grains, such as whole-grain pasta, brown rice or bread. Cover the other quarter mostly with lean protein such as chicken, fish or eggs. Finally, round out the plate sparingly with healthy oils like olive oil and a portion of low-fat dairy, like cheese or sour cream.

What constitutes a portion may surprise you – at mealtimes and snacks. The truth is, we are all guilty of overserving ourselves. Enjoy a piece of fruit or salad, but remember that a serving size is about the size of a baseball. And dive into that juicy steak – measure out a piece that is about the size of your palm to ensure you get a sensible three to four ounces. Cheese and whole-grain crackers make a great snack – but an ounce to an ounce and a half of cheese is about the size of four dice.

Fill up on the good stuff, and you’re less likely to crave unhealthy foods


HealthElisa Cifuentes