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Size does matter

January 27, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
Probably the most important thing to remember when trying to make healthier choices is the size of those choices. A perfect example would be the two teaspoons of sugar that I have in my tea each morning. There is a difference between a teaspoon and tea-spoon. The first is a measurement and the second is the smaller of the two sizes of spoons in my silverware drawer. I often get out my measuring spoons and cups and food scale because it is easy for our visuals of serving sizes to get distorted.

In my opinion, the reason is because our perception of what is or isn’t the right serving size has been greatly distorted by the enormous servings we see when we go to restaurants. My lunch today at Chipotle was probably enough to feed four people. As it was, I ate half of what I was given even though I most likely would have been satisfied with even less. I’d be interested in hearing how the rest of you feel about this.

One way I try to stay within the boundaries of serving sizes is to use my plate as a measuring tool. When you see my dishes, you might notice a rather large rim with a decorative design. By keeping my food on the inside of that rim, I am only using the space of a much smaller plate. If I go up over the rim, I’ve taken too much.

In addition to watching my plate’s size, I also watch where my food is located. I visually divide my plate into four sections. The meat serving should only take up one-fourth or one section, while the other three sections can be filled with vegetables. If I am having a starch, such as white potatoes or corn, it also should only be in no more than one section. Vegetables should be in at least two of the four sections. If I have a salad, I often use a separate bowl or plate, but you get the idea.

By eating this way at home, I have a better visualization of my servings when I go to restaurants. The problem is, if it is on my plate, I’m likely to eat it, but I have a solution to that too. When I go to a restaurant, if I think the portion sizes are more than I need, I will ask for a carry-out box right away. Then I will re-portion the food on my plate, putting the excess into the carry-out box before I begin to eat. This way, I don’t overeat just because it’s there.

Yesterday was another busy day. I had two salon appointments and had to go back to the restaurant I was reviewing the night before so I could interview the owner and get a photo. I also needed to grocery shop because I knew it would be a very busy day.

Because I was so rushed, I forgot to take a photo of my breakfast, which consisted of a bowl of Cascadia Farms whole-grain cereal and fat-free milk. There wasn’t much time for more than that and then I was off to the hair salon. I love going to the salon and as usual, I was no sooner in the door before they were offering me a cup of tea.

While I was at the salon, my son called and asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch at Chipotle. I never pass up an opportunity to see my kids, so I arranged to meet him after my restaurant interview. I ordered a burrito bowl with rice, black beans and chicken. I passed on the sour cream, but did ask for guacamole. I also asked for peppers and onions and mild salsa. For my drink I had a diet coke, but only drank half. I don’t keep soda or pop at home so when I do go out, I will have a diet drink if I’m in the mood, which the past two days was pretty often.

By the time we ate, I had to be back at the salon for a manicure.

Following the manicure, it was grocery shopping time. Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite pastimes and today I knew I needed to get to restock so I was expecting to be there awhile. I took the time to read labels, checking fat and sugar grams, but we’ll talk about that another time.

Once home, with the groceries put away, I was able to concentrate on dinner. It was nice to have a good meal at home after a hectic two days. I decided to make a pouch meal because it was easy and quick and didn’t require a lot of clean-up. At the store, I found oven-baked French fries with low numbers of sugar and fat, including no trans-fats, so I decided to indulge. In the foil pouch, I placed three ounces of tilapia, green beans, carrots, onions and peas, lemon slices, salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning. Later in the evening, I had an apple as a snack. The numbers for my breakfast not pictured are: 1 ounce grains, 3/4 cup milk, 30 discretionary calories (sugar in tea at salon)


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Serving sizes: tea-spoon vs. teaspoon and what they hold. A cup of milk doesn’t fill my glass when it’s accurately measured. Watch your serving vessels as they can easily be misinterpreted.