Hunger, a bowl, a spoon and a bite of heaven - homemade granola packed with great-tasting nuts and seeds and sweetened with treats from nature like raw honey and real maple syrup. That’s the taste I love. So delicious, so satisfying (and Yay! - not a single 18-syllable, unpronounceable chemical anywhere in the bowl).
One thing I noticed though was that my husband had just as much in his bowl as he did when he was eating fluffy chemicalized flakes. These granolas are dense real food and a portion size is about ½ that of standard flaked or puffed grain cereals. I couldn’t believe how much he was eating and just had to mention it to him, of course very cautiously in that way that loving, non-nagging wife sort of way. ;-)
I even had a study from Penn State to show him how deceptive volume was, versus density or weight. But I didn’t need to go there as he reflected for a brief moment and then reminded me that he usually filled his bowl twice with the other stuff.
Ah yes! That’s right, he’s a lot bigger than me and can, and does, eat a lot more than me. And to be quite honest - that sometimes ticks me off – I wish I could eat like that. I digress…
The point in all this is that size does matter – portion size, that is.
And it matters in two ways – both in the volume of the food and in its density.
Most of us are aware that the amount of food being served has grown exponentially over the past 20 years. Check out this chart for a reminder.
But often we are fooled by the density of the food. According to Barbara Rolls professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Penn State, "People have a really hard time judging appropriate portions. On top of that you have these huge variations in volume that are due to the physical characteristics of foods, such as the size of individual pieces, aeration and how things pile up in a bowl. That adds another dimension to the difficulty of knowing how much to take and eat."
And most dietary guidelines typically define recommended amounts of food groups in terms of measures of volume such as cups.
"This can be a problem because, for most foods, the recommended amounts have not been adjusted for variations in physical properties that affect volume, such as aeration, cooking, and the size and shape of individual pieces." Rolls said. "The food weight and energy required to fill a given volume can vary, and this variation in the energy content of recommended amounts could be a challenge to the maintenance of energy balance."
So what’s the solution? Well, you could weigh your food, which is certainly not very convenient or practical. But if you’re concerned, or even just curious, you can consider weighing your food, or particular food items just for a few days. That will give you a clearer idea of what your serving size should look like.
Another suggestion is to be more mindful when you eat. Look at the food. Is it light and airy? Compact and heavy? Slow down and listen to your body. Are you feeling full? If so, then stop – just because there’s food left on the dish, that doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Isn’t it great to be an adult and not have a mother over you telling you to clean your plate?! Save it for another meal.
And here’s another handy (no pun intended) guide. It’s a nice tool to help you gauge serving sizes for many foods.
Wishing you well!
P.S. Are you struggling to make the right food choices? Knowingly eating too much but can’t get motivated to stop? I can help and would love to chat. Let’s find out if working together is a good fit. I offer a complimentary session and scheduling is easy with my online booking system: Schedule Now
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