American portion sizes are ubiquitously super-sized. Here are 13 helpful suggestions for healthy portions of calorie-dense foods, from The Pritikin Edge: 10 Essential Ingredients for a Long and Delicious Life, by Robert A. Vogel, M.D., and Paul Tager Lehr.
- Practice smart portion control by trimming portions of calorie-dense foods before you start eating. Make the decision about how much to eat of these fattening foods before you take the first bite.
- Then, get rid of the rest. Especially when you eat out or take home prepared food, put about a quarter to half of each calorie-dense dish on a separate plate and discard it. You may have been taught that throwing away food is a sin, but it keeps farmers in business and you healthy.
- My wife taught me this next crucial step: after you remove a quarter to half of a calorie-dense dish, make it immediately inedible. If it remains within your reach in edible form, you will eventually eat it. My wife and I love gooey chocolate desserts. When we dine out, we order one to share between the two of us. We each take three or four bites and then pour pepper on the rest. After the pepper, we won’t eat any more dessert no matter how long we linger at the table.
- Don’t let other people size your servings. Your mother may love you, but she tried her best to make you fat. In mother-think, a chubby kid is a job well done. The food industry measures its success the same way. You shouldn’t. Make sure you are the one in control of how much is on your plate.
- You have no excuse for taking excessively large helpings of calorie-dense food in your own kitchen. Cook less of them. Serve them on smaller plates and the portions will seem larger. I purposely use a small cereal bowl in the morning so that the fruit on top is almost falling off. When I use a larger bowl, I just fill it — and eat more! My wife and I use teeny-weenie bowls for ice cream and it feels like a treat.
- Serve food attractively. Smaller portions of well-presented foods taste and satisfy you better. The Japanese are masters at presenting small portions of foods beautifully. They are also a whole lot thinner than Americans. Prepared, TV-type dinners should be limited to barracks and prisons. Food arranged on a plastic plate in little compartments signals you have fallen into culinary hell.
- Never put your whole meal out on the table at once. Eat it in courses and, as you learned through essential 1, start with something filling and calorie-light like a salad or soup. In restaurants, go ahead and ask for a salad that’s two or three times the size that the restaurant normally serves. Ideally, then, you’re not feeling hungry at all by the time your calorie-dense entrée is served.
- As a parent, remember that serving large food portions is not a loving gesture. Love is bringing up slim, healthy, happy kids.
- Choose restaurants that serve smaller portions. Generally, smaller portions mean that the food is better in quality and better-tasting. Boycott restaurants that advertise all-you-can-eat unless 10 visits qualify you for free liposuction, stomach stapling, or bypass surgery.
- Buffets are coronary disasters and waistline killers. Grazing over acres of food almost guarantees overeating. Cruises often serve buffets and keep them open all hours of the night. I’ve often thought cruises should be rated by average weight gained, such as “Five Pounders,” “Ten Pounders,” and “Bury Me at Sea” extravaganzas.
- You can ask for half portions in restaurants, especially good ones. Or order one or two appetizers (soup and big salad, anyone?) instead of a large entrée.
- Share food. Most American restaurant entrées easily satisfy two people. A large order of fast-food fries — which, as we know, is not healthy or good for weight loss by any standard — serves four or five people. The entire table can share the average restaurant dessert. Besides, three extra spoons are a lot cheaper than three more desserts (or new pants in a bigger size).
- Take food home from restaurants. Retired people know fully well that this saves money. Give it to your dog, or eat it tomorrow. Recently, I shared a plate-overlapping, inch-thick prime rib from a famous restaurant with a 250-pound dog. Guess who got three-quarters?
- Send excess food back to the kitchen. Make a comment to your waiter. The chef may finally get the right idea.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr. Robert A. Vogel, author of The Pritikin Edge: 10 Essential Ingredients for a Long and Delicious Life (Copyright © 2008 by Dr. Robert Vogel and The Pritikin Organization, LLC), is a cardiologist, Pritikin’s chief medical director, and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. He has been designated as one of the best doctors in America by Good Housekeeping magazine and is a weight and heart consultant to the National Football League and a diet consultant to the National Health Institute.
Paul Tager Lehr, son of Pritikin cofounder Dr. David Lehr, is an author of The Pritikin Edge: 10 Essential Ingredients for a Long and Delicious Life (Copyright © 2008 by Dr. Robert Vogel and The Pritikin Organization, LLC), and the president of the Pritikin Organization, which has helped more than 100,000 people worldwide who have gone to the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa and the 10 million plus readers of Pritikin books lose weight and prevent and reverse obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Read Chapter 1 of The Pritikin Edge
- See the book’s Table of Contents
- Browse more books about health and healing