Have Fun with Portion Control

My sons recently offered to buy dinner for me and my husband. They were ordering from their favorite burrito place and asked what I wanted. When I chose the kids meal, they were dumbfounded.

Why would you get the kids meal? It’s so small!

(Even my husband was against it, albeit for a different reason: The boys are actually paying for our dinner, and you’re ordering the cheapest thing on the menu?!)

I explained that child-size meals at restaurants are usually pretty close to the correct portion size for me and lots of other Americans. No way, mom! They couldn’t believe it.

Chances are, your clients, students, or employees would feel the same way if they ordered their favorite burrito and were served the child’s portion size. Yet portion control is key to a healthy eating pattern.

Here are some fun ways to teach any audience about portion control whether in person or on Zoom:

  1. Use pictures. The good thing about the concept of portion control is that, with the right pictures, you don’t have to say a word.
  2. Do some hands-on measuring. Plastic food models are great when you’re seeing clients or students in person. But when your audience is on a computer screen, you have to get creative. Use our Portion Control DVD/CD Set to teach the basics, but break up the lessons with some hands-on measuring.
    • Let participants take turns showing a food or beverage from their kitchen (chips, peanut butter, cereal, soda, juice, etc). First, ask them to show what they think is the correct portion size (say, a tablespoon of peanut butter or 4 ounces of juice). Next, have them actually measure out the correct portion size, using measuring cups or spoons, or even a kitchen scale if they have one.
    • Check plate size. Have participants measure the plates they use at home. Are they more than 9 inches? How about the mugs and glasses – how many ounces do they hold? Our Portion Control: Don’t Go Overboard handout would go well with a lesson like this.
  3. Show real-life examples of portion control. Record short videos to post on social media or send to your clients. For example, measure out one serving from a basket of tortilla chips you’d see at a Mexican restaurant. Or show how a huge muffin from your favorite coffee shop cannot possibly fit on MyPlate.

Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD

MyPlate Goes Anywhere

Did you know that 90 percent of adults don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables?* Maybe if we saw MyPlate billboards as often as we see signs for fast food or soda, this number wouldn’t be so high. Since that’s not going to happen, it’s up to us to plant the MyPlate image into everyone’s minds.

The MyPlate Start Simple poster is a great discussion-starter for helping people find simple ways to fill half of their plate with fruits and veggies, whether they’re eating at home, at a restaurant, at work, or at school.

  • At home – this should be the easiest because you’re in charge. Keep lots of fruits and veggies on hand to fill up half of your plate. Bags of pre-washed baby spinach and spring mix make it easy to fix a salad every day. Stock your freezer with a variety of frozen vegetables to steam, microwave, or roast in the oven.
  • At restaurants – you don’t have as much control, but checking out the menu online ahead of time can help. Look for vegetable sides and order an extra serving. If you’re getting subs or burritos, visually deconstruct them to see how they would look on a plate, then decide if you need to add an extra veggie or fruit, choose a salad instead of sandwich, or go easy on the rice.
  • Packing lunch – keep that plate in mind as you put your lunch together. Pile all the veggies you can onto sandwiches. Add sides of raw veggies like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, and a piece of fruit. Or pack lunch the easy way – leftovers from a MyPlate-friendly dinner make the perfect MyPlate lunch.

*Source: CDC (read more here).

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