Have you ever wondered if you are serving the right amount of food when preparing your snack or meal?
Portion sizes and portion sizes can be confusing.
- How much should i eat?
- Do I have to follow portion sizes?
- How do I know if I need more than the “average” person or not?
These are just a few of the many questions I hear from the community daily!
For the nutrients you eat to function and nourish your body appropriately, we need to make sure we are consuming the right amounts.
When you understand what portion sizes your body needs, it helps you get the right balance of daily nutrients, allowing our bodies to feel their best on a daily basis and preventing chronic diseases and health complications in the long term.
So in this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about portion sizes so that you feel confident in the way you nourish yourself and know that you are not unintentionally overeating or undereating.
Serving size vs. Serving size
The first thing to understand is the difference between portion sizes and portion sizes.
Often times, people use the words portion sizes and serving sizes interchangeably, but there really is a difference between the two.
What most people understand are portion sizes. Portion sizes are the guidelines on nutrition labels for prepackaged foods.
They are specific, standardized, and measurable, and are assigned serving sizes by the Food and Drug Administration based on general and recommended guidelines for what the average person eats.
On the other hand, portion sizes are individual for you, your needs and what you choose to eat. There are no specified standard portion sizes. When you choose to eat a food item and then actually take in a certain amount, the amount of food on your plate is your portion size.
Why eating the right portion size is important
Our bodies are literally made up of the food we eat. We synthesize tissues, extract energy and perform body functions as a result of the nutrients we get from food.
Consuming too much or not enough food can alter these necessary processes and lead to complications later on the road.
On the one hand, if you eat constantly or do not get enough of certain foods, you are likely lacking vital nutrition that can cause fatigue, lethargy, muscle loss, hair loss, brittle nails, irritability and excessive thirst over time.
On the one hand, overeating can make your body feel less than its best and cause a number of symptoms such as unintended weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease and many more.
Taking the time to decide which portion sizes are right for you in line with your health and wellness goals can make a huge difference to how you feel and do your job every day.
1. It helps you get the right balance of daily nutrients
When we have the right balance of nutrients, our bodies are able to function better. This is one of the best ways we can prevent chronic disease and health complications in the long term.
2. Makes you feel full and energized
When we don’t eat enough throughout the day, we will constantly feel a slight sense of hunger. This can lead to irritability and even anxiety. On the other hand, when we eat a lot throughout the day, instead of feeling hungry and irritable, we can feel excessive satiety and lethargy. The goal is to eat portion sizes that are appropriate for your body and that allow you to feel full and energized!
3. There are no foodstuffs outside the borders
The more you understand the portion sizes that work for you, the more you will understand that you do not have to completely remove or restrict nutrients from your diet. It is perfectly fine to enjoy foods in moderation which may not necessarily be the most nutritious option. Understanding portion sizes and being comfortable with them gives you the confidence and clarity you need to find a happy medium for your health and wellness.
6 steps to find the right serving size for what you need in every meal
Portion sizes are individual for each person on any given day. Yesterday’s dinner might be a little smaller than it is today – and that’s totally fine!
Contrary to beliefs of most people, portion sizes in general are not among the first few things we deal with.
Understanding portion sizes includes much more than just knowing numbers or hard facts – it’s about getting on with your body.
One of our members came to us after trying just about everything – from counting calories and macronutrients with apps to meal plans and diet programs, it seemed like she couldn’t figure out a way to keep her portion sizes under control.
Despite the fact that she wanted to talk about portion sizes right away, we instead discussed mindful eating and how she can use it to re-acclimate to cues of hunger and satiety. Then we discussed her wellness goals in addition to her usual activity and how these factors might influence hunger cues and thus her portion sizes.
By taking a step back and looking at the big picture, she was able to understand that her hunger was not the enemy, but rather the key to her portion sizes success.
Use the same method by following the following 6 steps to determine which portion sizes are right for you.
1. Start by checking for signs of hunger and satiety
This will always be the most important.
When do you usually feel hungry? How full are you after meals? Do you really feel full or do you usually feel hungry again after an hour or so?
Know your hunger cues. Take a look at your usual habits and tendencies with a lens of curiosity, just taking some time to think can give you a lot of information about how to move forward.
If you find you are uncomfortably full after most meals, reduce your portion sizes a little and reassess. If you find you are hungry soon after a meal, try increasing your portion sizes and go from there.
It’s all about your body and your individual needs.
2. Practice mindful eating
All too often eating becomes just another task on people’s to-do list. It is something we have to do quickly to continue our day.
Unfortunately, this approach to eating can often lead to mindless eating over time. This is when we stop trying, tasting, and really appreciating our food. This can also lead to larger or smaller portion sizes than we really need.
Take some time to return your mind to your meal times. This is a great resource to use while trying it out!
3. Take your daily activity in the account
Your activity affects your energy needs. Do you move around frequently throughout the day? Or are you basically stable? The more we move, the more energy we need.
You may find that this often fluctuates, and so your portion sizes will fluctuate as well. Always make sure to acknowledge your movement and how it affects your hunger and satiety.
4. Identify your strengths and weaknesses
We all have strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to portion sizes. Make sure you define who you are and treat it as best you can.
For example, if you know that after more than 5 hours without food you no longer have control over your portion sizes, try not to prepare yourself for failure! Make sure to snack to help restrain your rest, even if that means packing or preparing something in advance.
5. Use your own painting as a guide
In general, some nutrients and macronutrients are associated with larger or smaller sizes. A great way to use this to your advantage is to use these general guidelines as a starting point.
The following visual image is a general recommendation for how much each ingredient should be on our plate.
Will this guide remain the same for everyone? of course not. But it can be a great place to start if you are just getting started!
Common mistakes people make with quantity and serving sizes
Since you are learning portion sizes, there are some common mistakes people make when learning them all on their own. Let’s review some of the most popular ones so you can actively avoid them!
1. Try to always make serving sizes accurate
When making a lifestyle change and trying to reach health and wellness goals, this is one of the first mistakes many people make.
It can be very easy to get too focused on specific portion sizes, but in reality, this isn’t really necessary. If we were constantly trying to make exact serving sizes using cups, spoons, and measuring scales, the lifestyle you were trying to do would quickly become a strict diet.
It’s important to be aware of your portion sizes, but perfection isn’t there – so why bother with it? Use these tools to find out your portion sizes, then build your confidence by standing the ball and eyeball from there.
2. I think serving sizes apply to everyone
Every packaged food product you buy has a nutrition label on the back with a pre-defined serving size.
These portion sizes are based on the US “average,” assuming they consume 2,000 calories. In fact, not everyone fits into this template. Some people will need more portions, while others may need less.
While these portion sizes can be a great place to start, they don’t necessarily have to dictate all of your portion sizes. This is the place Work with a registered dietitian It can be helpful. Depending on your health and wellness goals, they can tell you what portion sizes they will look like for you in terms of listed serving sizes and how you can use them in a realistic and maintainable way.
3. Ignore the signs of hunger and satiety
It can sometimes be difficult to trust yourself, especially when it comes to hunger and fullness.
Am I really hungry for more food, or just want it? How do I know if I’m really full?
There are many questions on our minds when it comes to determining how much we eat. Yes, we want to think about serving sizes and be aware of them, but we also need to listen to our bodies.
The hunger and satiety cues are the body’s way of telling us that we need energy or that we have enough energy. When we don’t conform to these cues, it can be easy to overeat or under-eat because we follow strict portion guidelines instead.
4. Always keep portion sizes the same
Once we know what portion sizes to eat, they should be exactly the same all the time, right? not exactly.
We eat to provide our bodies with energy. Some days we need the minimum amount of fuel, and on other days we may need a little more. For example, if you hike, run, or work outside in your backyard – you will need larger portion sizes than if you were hanging indoors to watch movies all day.
Additionally, health and wellness goals must be taken into account. Are you looking to gain muscle? Or maybe you are trying to maintain your weight – this will affect portion sizes as well.
Just remember that your daily activities and goals will change your energy needs from time to time.
Put this in practice
We are all very unique as individuals and our daily lives are completely different. Our needs are very individual and constantly changing.
This is why it is so important for you to learn how to become more aware of your body and its special needs to better support yourself.
Here’s what I guide you through with the Mindful Nutrition Method ™. If you are ready to get more support in your journey and build confidence in the best way to take care of your body, Join us on the inside.
While it takes patience and practice to be in perfect harmony with your body, you deserve the confidence that you take care of your health in the best way.