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What to know about food portions

Portion control is a big part of a healthy diet. In fact, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, how much food a person eats is just as important as what he or she eats.

No two people are the same, so a portion that’s satisfying and healthy for one person won’t necessarily be the same for another person. Answering some common questions about food portions can help people understand this vital component of a healthy lifestyle.

What is the difference between portions and servings?

The NIDDK notes that a portion is how much food a person chooses to eat at one time, while a serving size is the amount of food listed on the Nutrition Facts label. The portions a person eats may or may not match a serving size. That’s because a healthy portion size is typically based on various factors, such as age, weight and gender, unique to individuals.

Should calories come into play when determining healthy portion sizes?

Calories definitely merit consideration when determining healthy portion sizes. However, the amount of calories a person needs is based on a number of factors, including how physically active that person is. The NIDDK notes that a 150-pound woman who exercises vigorously throughout the week will need more calories than a woman about the same size who is not as physically active. When trying to determine their calorie needs, men and women should consult with their physicians, who will consider their lifestyle, age, medical history, and other factors before advising patients about how much they should eat.

What if I am still hungry after reducing portion sizes?

It’s likely that people accustomed to big portions will still be hungry as their bodies adjust to reduced portion sizes. In such instances, people can try taking more time to eat. Even if there’s less food on the plate, eating slowly gives the brain a chance to receive the message that the stomach is full. According to the NIDDK, it can take as long as 15 minutes for that message to make its way to the brain. Eating slowly reduces the risk of overeating, and you may even be surprised to learn that a smaller portion size than you’re used to is all you really need to feel satisfied.

Portion control is a great way to get healthy and maintain a healthy weight.

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