Health & Safety

May 18, 2012

Portion control and healthy ways to manage it

by Airman 1st Class Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

With the rate of obesity rising and portion sizes growing, what is a person to do?

In today’s society portion sizes are not what they once were.

When McDonald’s first opened in 1955 they only had a 7-ounce soft drink, according to Aaron Anderson, Aerospace Medicine Squadron Health and Wellness Center dietitian. Today, McDonald’s serves a 32-ounce soft drink. Not only has the drink size gone up, but the burgers and fries have also gotten bigger over the years.

“Restaurants can actually sell more by increasing the size of their product,” said Anderson. “By selling larger portions for the same price as smaller portions, companies can sell X amount of units faster with profits increasing.”

With companies providing more food for a lower price, how does one know how much is too much?

“We consume more food than we’re supposed to,” said Matthew Corcoran, 56th Force Support Squadron Combat PT Fitness Center fitness instructor. “People eat until they’re at their maximum capacity, and even at their maximum capacity they still continue to eat.”

Corcoran said people should only eat until they’re satisfied and not hungry.

To stay fuller longer, Corcoran recommends eating five to six small meals throughout the day.

“Spreading your meals through the entire day will allow your body to digest food more efficiently and will keep your energy levels high throughout the day,” he said.

One place where it may be hard to keep portion sizes in mind is at restaurants.

“Studies have shown that when people are given larger portions they will eat a higher percentage of food,” said Anderson. “If it’s not there you won’t consume it.”

To help avoid unnecessary calories, Anderson recommends skipping the complementary chips and salsa or breadsticks.

For Corcoran, it’s not only about eating smaller meals, it’s also about eating foods rich in nutrients.

“The easiest way to cut calories is to avoid refined carbohydrates, basically anything in a box or sealed in a bag,” said Corcoran. “If you were to go back to Paleolithic foods such as lean meats, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, it’s very difficult to gain weight from eating those foods, since they aren’t as high in calories compared to say a Twinkie.”

For those who want to start small towards a better lifestyle, it may be intimidating at first, but even the smallest changes can make a big difference.

“Start by focusing on one element of your diet,” said Anderson. “Aside from milk, not drinking your calories is a great place to start. For example, eliminating a 250-calorie soda per day equals a half pound of weight loss per week.”

Whether you’ve tried or would like to try again with healthy eating choices, Anderson said he is here to help.

“I instruct a healthy weight management class the first Tuesday of every month at 4:30 p.m. at the HAWC,” he said. “To sign up call (623) 856-3778.”




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