The holidays are officially over--and perhaps you have a New Year's resolution to lose weight? You're not alone! Losing weight is one of the most common New Year's resolutions, but many women struggle with the proper, healthy way to do this. Research has shown that portion control may be the most effective form of dieting when you take into account longevity and sustained weight loss and management. The reasonmay be that portion control is an easier behavioral target than planned exercise.  Although increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables may be the easiest way to change behaviorally, it does not appear to be as effective in long term weight reduction. Okay, so all I have to do is eat a little less, and move a little more. Well, it’s not that simple. If you’ve tried portion control in the past, you might be rolling your eyes, because perhaps it was only a temporary fix. So how can we make portion control work for us? The important thing to understand is that portion sizes are often FAR LESS than we think they are. In fact, research has shown that Americans typically underestimate their caloric intake by as much as 25%. So if I think I’m only eating 1600 Calories (a typical weight loss goal), I might actually be eating 2,000.

It’s also important to know that women and men of similar height and weight do NOT have the same caloric needs. Metabolism in women works differently; men generally have a higher Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the rate at which our bodies break down calories. In other words, we don’t need to eat as much as our male counterparts. So what is the correct portion size? Well we are probably all familiar with the serving size values: 1 cup green and leafy vegetables or ½ cup mashed potatoes for the veggies ½ - 1 cup of fruit or 1 oz dried fruit ½ cup rice, 1 cup (cooked) pasta, or a bagel for the grains, 3 oz chicken, beef or fish for protein, 1 cookie or a ½ cup ice cream for the sweets But what do these sizes actually look like?  Well, sadly, a lot less than we’d like to think.  Here’s the run down:

Portions Table

For more portion size tips, see this cool tool at Even though portion control can be an effective weight loss method, it is still important to keep an active lifestyle and exercise regularly for a healthy weight AND a healthy heart!  Happy New Year and Mindful Eating!

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