What's Your Portion IQ?
Do you know if the last bagel or muffin you ate was a single serving or four portions disguised as one large serving? With supersizing being the norm, accurately estimating portions can be challenging.
Whether you are using carbohydrate to insulin ratios or trying to manage your diabetes with oral medications, diet or exercise, much of diabetes nutrition management hinges on a having a good “portion IQ.”
How to Raise Your Portion IQ
Practice mindful eating by creating a relaxing atmosphere, limiting distractions and paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Don’t “multitask,” as in eating while working, driving, talking on the phone or watching television. Enjoy your food; try to savor each bite. Mindfulness reduces the tendency to eat “on autopilot” or in response to stress or emotions.
Scan the food label. Check the manufacturer’s definition of a portion and compare it to the amount of carbohydrates in the stated portion. Familiarize yourself with foods you routinely purchase as well as those you’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 size of your portion, then check your accuracy by using measuring cups, spoons or a kitchen scale. Measure to see how much your usual serving spoons, ladles, soup bowls and glassware hold. Use this technique to check your serving habits once a month.
Mark your drinking glasses at the 4- and 8-ounce level. Buy permanent paints and decorate your glassware so that different patterns represent different quantities in ounces. Kids love this project and learn about portion sizes during the process. You can also paint on dinnerware, making shapes or pictures that represent ½- and 1-cup amounts.
Buy or store foods in single-serving containers. When you buy foods in larger packages, make up individual portion packs at home (sandwich-sized plastic bags are handy for this).
Use smaller-sized dinnerware. An 8- or 10- ounce bowl will ensure better portion sizes of soup or cereal than a two-cup bowl. Start with single servings at meals. If you’re still hungry after one serving, wait 10 minutes before dishing up seconds. This allows time for your stomach to get the message that you’re full.
Request smaller portions when dining out. Many restaurants offer healthier meal options or allow you to order from the children’s or senior menu, especially if you tell them it will help you better manage your diabetes. Or eat just half of your meal and have the rest wrapped to go, so you can enjoy it for lunch the next day. Don’t fall into the “clean plate” trap; there’s no shame in leaving some food behind or taking a “doggie bag” with you.
With a little practice, being a portion-savvy eater will become second nature. Often, simply by paying attention to portion sizes, you can bring your blood glucose into better control.
Test Your Portion IQ
Everyday objects are a useful guide to help you judge portion sizes more accurately. To check your portion IQ, try matching the serving sizes with these common foods:
- One cup of fruit, vegetables, pasta or beverage
- One teaspoon of butter or margarine
- Three ounces of meat, fish or chicken
- A medium apple or orange
- One tortilla
- a deck of cards
- a fist
- a tennis ball
- a small (7-inch) salad plate
- a thumb tip