What’s Your Portion IQ?

Do you know if the last bagel or muffin youate was a single serving or four portionsdisguised as one large serving? With supersizingbeing the norm, accurately estimatingportions can be challenging.

Whether you are using carbohydrate toinsulin ratios or trying to manage yourdiabetes with oral medications, diet orexercise, much of diabetes nutritionmanagement hinges on a having a good“portion IQ.”

How to Raise Your Portion IQ

Practice mindful eating by creating arelaxing atmosphere, limiting distractionsand paying attention to your hunger andfullness cues. Don’t “multitask,” as in eatingwhile working, driving, talking on the phoneor watching television. Enjoy your food; tryto savor each bite. Mindfulness reduces thetendency to eat “on autopilot” or in responseto stress or emotions.

Scan the food label. Check themanufacturer’s definition of a portion andcompare it to the amount of carbohydrates inthe stated portion. Familiarize yourself withfoods you routinely purchase as well as thoseyou’re eager to try.

Evaluate your own concept of a portion.Portion out your normal serving of cereal,pasta or orange juice. Guess the actual sizeof your portion, then check your accuracy byusing measuring cups, spoons or a kitchenscale. Measure to see how much your usualserving spoons, ladles, soup bowls andglassware hold. Use this technique to checkyour serving habits once a month.

Mark your drinking glasses at the 4- and8-ounce level. Buy permanent paints anddecorate your glassware so that differentpatterns represent different quantities inounces. Kids love this project and learn aboutportion sizes during the process. You canalso paint on dinnerware, making shapesor pictures that represent ½- and 1-cupamounts.

Buy or store foods in single-servingcontainers. When you buy foods in largerpackages, make up individual portion packsat home (sandwich-sized plastic bags arehandy for this).

Use smaller-sized dinnerware. An 8- or 10-ounce bowl will ensure better portion sizesof soup or cereal than a two-cup bowl. Startwith single servings at meals. If you’re stillhungry after one serving, wait 10 minutesbefore dishing up seconds. This allows timefor your stomach to get the message thatyou’re full.

Request smaller portions when diningout. Many restaurants offer healthier mealoptions or allow you to order from thechildren’s or senior menu, especially if youtell them it will help you better manageyour diabetes. Or eat just half of your mealand have the rest wrapped to go, so youcan enjoy it for lunch the next day. Don’t fallinto the “clean plate” trap; there’s no shamein leaving some food behind or taking a“doggie bag” with you.

With a little practice, being a portion-savvyeater will become second nature. Often,simply by paying attention to portionsizes, you can bring your bloodglucose into better control.

Test Your Portion IQ

Everyday objects are a useful guide to help you judge portionsizes more accurately. To check your portion IQ, try matchingthe serving sizes with these common foods:

  1. One cup of fruit, vegetables, pasta or beverage
  2. One teaspoon of butter or margarine
  3. Three ounces of meat, fish or chicken
  4. A medium apple or orange
  5. One tortilla
  1. a deck of cards
  2. a fist
  3. a tennis ball
  4. a small (7-inch) salad plate
  5. a thumb tip

(Answers: 1b, 2e, 3a, 4c, 5d)

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