Hello! My name is Kristin Bolling. I am a wife, to my high school sweet-heart, a mother of 3, (2 of which includes a set of twins), a redeemed rebel, saved by grace, a believer of Jesus Christ, and the author of our family blog, bollingwith5.blogspot.com I was excited when Emily Parker, of Journey Of Parenthood, asked me to do a guest post on her blog. Although I have been featured many times, on several websites, this is my very first guest post but, I am writing about something that I am very passionate about: portion control and serving size. I am not a food science major. I am not a fitness instructor. I am a conscientious person and a loving mother with not only a huge desire to educate myself, but also others about living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
When my son, almost 11, came home the first week of school, he said to me, “Mom, you wanna know what’s so annoying and unfair?” I replied, “What buddy?” He proceeded saying, “So many of my friends pack their own snack bags/lunches and they have like four packs of gummies or an entire bag of goldfish, no fruit, and no protein. They don’t have a little zipbloc baggie of goldfish like I do.” There was not one fiber in my body that felt bad for him. I was not stumped at how to respond to him, nor surprised that he felt so cheated.
“There was not one fiber of my body that felt bad for him!”
I am hoping that the above comment didn’t come across as an unloving mom. Instead, as you will see when you continue reading, I hope that you will feel the complete opposite…that I actually love him whole-heartedly. Comparing is deadly and it’s also a sin! I reminded him of this all to often.
“I was not stumped at how to respond to him!”
I made a lifestyle change over 15 years ago, prior to having my first child. My husband and I were enjoying a very healthy and active life, which involved a high protein, low carbohydrate, portion controlled lifestyle, plus exercise. Why would I not have those same expectations and desires for my children? SO… when my son, Tyson, expressed his annoyances and frustrations, I said, “Bud, often times, mommy and daddy will make decisions for you that do make sense now or seem unfair/cruel compared to what your friends’ parents allow. Please trust that most people are just simply unaware of what portion control really looks like. They are uneducated AND therefore, really don’t know enough to even care. The fact that I measure out your food verses allowing you to eat from a bag is one way that I show you love. You have to trust that!”
“Nor was I surprised he felt so cheated.”
I wasn’t surprised Tyson felt cheated. Whether it be turning away from soft drinks, bread, alcohol, cigarettes, or french fries, let’s face it… initially, you will feel cheated. You will miss all of those foods that have caused you to feel sluggish and put on excess weight because those foods comfort. Those foods “taste good”. Those foods are convenient. However, once you start seeing the positive results, from your lifestyle change, willpower, self-control, and moderation, you will not feel cheated, you will feel much more satisfaction than those foods could ever offer. There is reward at the end of the tunnel.
According to the Wikipedia, the true definition of portion control is as follows: “Portion control is understanding how much a serving size of food is and how many calories or how much food energy a serving contains. Portion control is important for body weight management as the weight is defined by the total calorie intake.” Since the day my children knew how to count, I have emphasized the importance of measuring out their food in front of them. The moments are rare that they are eating their snack directly out of a bag. The times have been VERY MINIMAL where they have eaten MORE than the FDA recommendations. We have chosen to make a lifestyle out of portion control because it’s 100% effective and doable. It’s not some unapproved, FDA fad, it’s not expensive, it doesn’t restrict you from enjoying events (like birthday parties that serve pizza and cake) and it’s easy. If you can read, count, and own a set of measuring cups…you can portion control. As my mom used to say, “Keep It Simple Stupid.”
So…now that I have introduced myself and spoken a little bit about what our family eating habits are, allow me to give you a few brief essentials by educating you on the infancy of portion control.
Take for example, a box of Cheese Itz Crackers. Especially if you have children, without allergies, I’d assume these crackers definitely exist in your house. Take a peak at their nutritional facts.
The portion of Cheese Itz crackers that are recommended is located directly underneath the word “facts” and is 27. Did you hear that? The serving size is 27. A grown man can fit 27 crackers in the palm of ONE hand. If he dips his hand in the box 3 times, he has eaten more than double the amount of crackers recommended, not to mention, 24 grams of fat and 450 calories. OUCH!!! Cheese Itz crackers are certainly not worth consuming that much fat and calories over. Moral of the story, READ the BACK of ALL PACKAGING, educate yourself on the serving size before you start eating any FOOD, and MEASURE out the item(s).
I’d love to discuss a few other things regarding portion control. Remember, this is just the “infant” stages of educating yourself on this subject matter. Five other topics come to mind: (1) Be certain to measure out ALL foods. (2) Purchase reliable tools. (3) Consider your subject before considering the serving size. (4) Educate your children and (5) A few sneaky and/or reliable foods.
1. Be certain to measure out ALL foods.
I have found, in the past, that the best way to ensure you are eating portioned controlled is to measure out the recommended serving size. Do not allow yourself to eat aimlessly out of a bag/box. Whether you are on the go or sitting at your desk, be prepared and proactive. Focus on eating. Do not focus on a screen or task. Measure, measure, measure ALL foods, even fruit! It will take a little longer to prep your food, but it’s worth it.
Keep in mind, measuring is beneficial because if you eat too little, you could rob your body of the nutrients it needs. And if you eat too much, you could ingest too many calories, and eventually put on weight. In the event you do NOT have a way to measure out your food, try to ingrain this photo in your head and use it as a resource during those times.
2. Purchase reliable tools.
You don’t need to be Chef Gordon Ramsay to successfully measure out a portioned controlled snack or meal. It’s a matter of stocking your kitchen with a few essential needs: a set of measuring cups, a set of measuring spoons, a box of Ziploc snack bags, and SOME people may desire a food scale (I do not own one!). I bought a beautiful set of metal, heart-shaped measuring cups and spoons at Sur La Table, years ago, and just recently I purchased a cute collection of rainbow measuring cups and spoons at Wal-mart. I have found that almost EVERY serving size of food that I eat, fits perfectly into a SNACK Zipbloc bag. SO…if you are in a huge rush and CANNOT measure something out, at least use those bags to help minimize over eating.
3. Consider your subject before considering the serving size.
When my children were in preschool and up until Kindergarten, I decided that just because the FDA recommended a specific serving size/portion of food, it didn’t necessarily mean that my children needed to consume that amount. Often times, I would cut the serving size in half. Take for instance a snack bag of Doritos chips.
Maybe one would assume that a snack bag is just enough for ONE person to fully consume, but as you will see in the nutritional facts above, a snack bag of Doritos actual contains TWO serving sizes. No one, in my opinion, should be consuming two serving sizes of Doritos in one day, but a child, especially, should not be eating that many empty calories. It is a food that has no nutritional value. So… when packing my children’s lunches, I always divided the bag, in two, and gave my twins half of the bag. I highly suggest also adopting this method for family members who are not very active and need to lose weight.
4. Educate your children
One good reason to educate yourself is so that you can also educate your children. Your children are human sponges and they won’t be little for long. BOTH your positive and negative eating habits/methods will, more than likely, be adopted by your children. They will eventually be forced to make decisions of their own, whether it be at a sleepover, in college, or when they become parents themselves. Why not help them learn the importance of good eating guidelines NOW, so that they can make important decisions that benefit their long term health and body’s physique. You could even turn this into a game by quizzing them, for instance,
“Hey Rebecca, What’s worse for you? One egg with 2 slices of bacon or a bowl of cheerios cereal?”
See if your child can not only answer correctly, but also EXPLAIN why? If they cannot do BOTH, then I would educate them about why their answer was either correct or incorrect. While educating your children, you will continue to learn new facts yourself. If you are truly concerned, you will make this a lifestyle change and not just a moment in time.
5. A few sneaky and/or reliable foods.
Hungry? Want to EAT, but do not like the recommended serving size because it’s “too small”. I get it, but obeying those suggestions is the only way you will maintain a healthy weight. So many foods are abused OR people are truly UNAWARE of how quickly two handfuls or two bowlfuls equate to 4-6 serving sizes. Here are a few (good and bad) sneaky foods to watch out for.
Cereal (3/4 cup)
Nuts (1/4 cup)
Peanut Butter (2 tablespoons)
Dressings (2 tablespoons)
Bread (1 slice)
Cheese (1 slice)
Hummus (2 tablespoons)
Coffee Creamer (1 tablespoon)
Here are a few foods where the serving size seems to be a good quantity of food aka filling:
Turkey Pepperoni (17)
Mini Rice Cakes (17)
Rice (1/2 cup)
Chicken (4 ounces)
Protein Bar (1)
Air Popped Popcorn (3 cups)
Cherry Tomatoes (20)
Tuna (one 3 ounce can)
Raspberries (1 cup)
Black Beans (1 cup)
Yogurt (6 ounces)
Oatmeal (1/2 cup)
Cheese String (1)
Well, there you have it!!!! The infancy stages of portion control and serving size education. I hope that I helped. The main thing to remember is to read labels, purchase and use measuring tools, MEASURE ALL FOODS, healthy and non-healthy, educate both yourself and your family members, and make it part of your LIFESTYLE! It usually boils down to what you are eating and how much of it that you are eating. There is no magic pill, no special shake, and no secret diet BUT, there IS a such thing as portion control/serving size.