To attain or maintain a healthy weight, your portions are just as important as what you eat, health practitioners say.
One may ask, ‘how much food is enough’; nutritionists define a portion as how much food one chooses to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or at home. While a serving is the amount of food listed on a product’s nutrition facts or food label.
For instance, different products have different serving sizes, which could be measured in cups, ounces, grams, pieces, slices, or numbers.
How much should you eat?
David Rukerabigwi, a dietician and nutritionist working with Slim n’ Fit, a weight loss and wellness centre in Kigali, says a serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount one should eat, depending on their age, weight, gender, and how active you are.
For example, he says, a woman who weighs 68kgs and burns many calories through intense physical activity, such as fast running, several times a week, will need more calories than a woman about the same size who only goes for a short walk once a week.
In addition to checking food labels for calories per serving, the nutritionist says keeping track of what you eat as well as when, where, why, and how much, may help you manage your food portions.
To avoid taking excess calories, Private Kamanzi, a dietician and nutritionist at Amazon Cabinet Clinic-Kigali, says avoid eating when you are not hungry; try doing something else instead.
For instance, he says, one can opt to work, take a break, or walk around. Alternatively, try out a healthy option, such as fruit or some low-fat yoghurt.
Kamanzi, however, says that there is no need to measure and count everything you eat or drink for the rest of your life.
Instead, he recommends learning about typical serving and portion sizes, then with time, you will get used to it without measuring.
Manage your servings
Kamanzi says take one serving according to the food label and eat it off a plate instead of straight out of the box, bag, or package.
Also, avoid eating in front of the TV, while driving or walking, or when busy with other activities as this can lead to eating more than necessary.
Also, he says eating at a slow pace is important as it helps the brain know that the stomach is full, which may take at least 15 minutes.
“Using smaller dishes, bowls, and glasses so that you eat and drink less is important, especially when you are at home. Eat fewer high-fat, high-calorie foods, such as desserts or chips,” he adds.
Also, Kamanzi says eating meals at irregular times, long hours between meals, or skipping meals altogether, may cause one to overeat later in the day.
Kamanzi cautions that too many calories can affect one’s weight and health. Along with choosing a healthy variety of foods and reducing the total calories you take in through eating and drinking, pay attention to the size of your portions.
“Sticking with healthy foods and drinks and managing your portions may help you eat just enough,” he says.