Probably every person will agree that portions of food served in restaurants have gone out of control,. Patrons are left to carry away “doggie bags.” But are the portions we serve at home often out of control, too?
With national concern over the prevalence of obesity among Americans, this is a fair question. Add to this the scores of articles on dieting, and the question of portion sizes is at the center. I have read so many articles that give me portion size advice and suggestions that I have difficulty remembering or using. I can’t relate to seeing my portion of protein as a deck of cards of my piece of cheese as a ping pong ball.
But in a recent magazine for diabetics, I found the perfect measure for me. Take a nine inch plate, divide it in half and fill that half with vegetables, fresh or cooked.
Divide the remaining half in half again and fill one with complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and the second half with protein. But I can hear it now, “What,no dessert? For this I resort to the new USDA Food Plate. The Food
Plate says, “Eat your fruit!” with my dessert plate (about six inches) I add a serving a of fruit and remember my mother-in-law who always served what she called “ fresh fruit in season,” or my grandmother who served “sauce” for dessert—home canned
Adding a drink with the meal offers opens new questions and lots of published advice for and against drinking with the meal. All I remember is don’t
drink with your mouth full. Now for me, I add herb tea, hot or iced and for
grandchildren the customary glass of milk—2% milk seems to go over best. The good part is I feel satisfied with enough energy left to do the dishes.
That’s not surprising. Doctors tell us we have in our brain a natural control for our appetite called the appestat, but it can easily become useless if we overeat or don’t stop eating when we feel satisfied or full. Sometimes the command to clean up your plate can lead us astray, especially with children who don’t or can’t serve themselves.
Coco Kids (Children’s Care Council of Contra Costa County) in their guidelines for day care centers suggests that wherever possible children be allowed to serve themselves. They can be cautioned to take a small portion then ask for more rather
than take a large portion and fail to “clean it up.” It seems to me that this method gives children an opportunity to listen to their appestat. We adults are left on our own to recognize when we are full and stop eating if we are satisfied no matter how much we would love another serving of mashed potatoes or a rich and gooey dessert.
Lou Ann Berardi
The Directors of Cooking with Kids all contribute to our Blog and each comes with a different skill set and point of view. Here you can find information on nutrition, cooking technique, tips to get kids to eat healthy and much more.