The portion patrol: A dieter’s dream

When it comes to weight management, portion sizes will either make or break your scale. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a portions patrol officer cuffed to our sides, hired solely to monitor our diets? Portion officers would flash a green light to signal it was okay to start grubbing, yellow to warn that it’s time to slow down, and red to say “freeze and put the chips back in the bag!”

The reality is no one is there signaling us to put down our forks; if anything, the exact opposite is occurring. In today’s consumer world, everything is either Biggie sized, supersized or flat out unlimited. Businesses know that a full customer is a happy customer, which is why they are more than willing to bring as much bread, chips and salsa or soda as we’ll allow. As restaurants continue to increase their portion sizes, Americans continue to increase their pant sizes, and inevitably, obesity will consume our nation. The following is a chart provided by the American Dietetic Association that shows how portions have grown in the past few decades.

“The fact that chocolate bars have grown more than 10 times since they were first introduced means that consumers need to pay even closer attention to how much of a food they are eating,” said registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Keith Ayoob. “Larger portions mean more calories.” Knowing this, we have to be mindful of how much we are actually consuming, instead of just assuming a plate full is an adequate measure of a meal. We may not have a fulltime nutritionist by our sides, but we do have the next best thing — a hunger signal and a full signal. Both are here to guide us through our every day eating habits, and if you just let them do their jobs you can make weight management as natural as balancing your checkbook.

Here are a few tips to get those portion sizes under control. Always ask for the lunch menu — the meals are usually smaller. Drink plenty of water with your meal. Don’t prolong being hungry so you can eat more at dinner — you usually end up eating more than you would have if you just had lunch. Don’t unbutton your jeans so you can eat more comfortably — having to unbutton or unzip your pants is a red flag that you’ve already eaten too much. Pace yourself. Take time to swallow each bite before you even think about taking the next. Talk throughout your meal. Try not to eat on the run. Plan your meals ahead of time. When you start to get full, place your napkin over your plate and slide it to the side — this way you won’t keep eating just because it’s there. Most importantly, ignore the menus and not your body. Even if it looks like you haven’t consumed half of your dinner, if you feel full, stop eating and just ask for a to- go box ASAP.