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From the School Nurse - January 2016

Life in Moderation

Everything in moderation, they say. Portion control, they say.

What does that look like in real life?

How can I scale down my meals and not starve or feel deprived?

When we sit down to eat a meal or especially if we are on the go and eating quickly, the last thing most of us want to do is to think about portion control.

The first thing we need to learn is what a portion is — the amount recommended by government agencies — USDA, Department of Health and Human Services, and the USDA Food Guides. You can find the serving size of a product by reading the food label. Most of the time, the portion we eat is larger than the recommended serving size simply because we do not know better.

Portion control is being aware of what we are actually eating and what calories are in that serving. With some practice, we can be very successful in eye-balling a portion size. Some hints to help follow:

Measure accurately … with gadgets like a measuring cup, tablespoon or food scale until you know what a given amount looks like.

Learn to estimate serving sizes … and compare them to a known object. For example, 3 oz of cooked meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards, ½ cup is the size of an ice cream scoop, 1 cup is the size of a tennis ball, and one ounce of cheese is the size of a domino.

Use portion control dishes … use smaller plates, cups and bowls and measure what they hold initially. You may have been eating twice the serving size simply because you have a big dinner plate.

Serve your portion separately … serve food from the stove or kitchen rather than family style at the table so as to discourage seconds.

Make your own single serving packs … you can buy 100 calorie snack packs or just make your own with some Ziploc bags. This really helps you to avoid over-snacking when you see how many 100 calories includes.

Measure oil carefully … get a drizzle bottle and you will use 75% less oil when cooking over the course of a year. Spritz or spray salad dressing over your salad, and you cut down the amount of fat and still have the flavor.

Share … Share a meal when eating out or eat half and take home the other half for your lunch the next day. If you make a pan of brownies, cut and save a couple and then share with a neighbor or friend — gets them out of your house!

Add vegetables … to everything — salads, soups, omelets, and even on your sandwiches. They add volume without a lot of calories.

Listen to your body … stop eating when you are comfortably full or about 80%. There will be more food at the next meal or snack.

Turn off the TV … You just lose track of how much you are eating when you are absorbed in a movie or show.

Limit your choices … the more choices we have, the more things we want to try. It all adds up people!

Go out there and tackle the new year while being present and aware of what you are eating. Wishing you a very healthy and Blessed New Year.

Jayne Dwyer-Reff, RN

School Nurse