Posted by on August 31, 2009 - 8:57am

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 reason, according to Dr. Everett Logue et al. in Obesity ( may 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 like I have, you might be rolling your eyes.  Actually, 36% of women in the Illinois Women’s Health Registry are currently using portion control to lose weight, while only 20% are trying exercise.   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…sorry ladies, but try leaving that second helping to him.

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 and Mindful Eating!

Posted by on August 4, 2009 - 10:42am

Trademarked logoHave you noticed the Institute for Women’s Health Research logo?

Our logo features two "dancing" X-chromosomes shaded in spring green - representing fresh approaches to conducting research, and purple to show our commitment to creating interdisciplinary research teams in search of breakthrough sex- and gender-specific research at NU, whose official color is purple.

Now, onto the lesson plan, the following is what you will read in a physiology textbook.....With the exception of egg and sperm cells (germline cells), each cell (somatic cells) in the human body contains 46 chromosomes. These 46 chromosomes are divided into 22 pairs of autosomes and 1 pair of sex chromosomes.  Autosomes contain genes that are responsible for the development of the human body; they give us characteristics such hair and eye color or blood type. Sex chromosomes determine genetic sex and are generally made up of two X chromosomes (XX) in women or an X and a Y chromosome (XY) in men. The sex chromosomes contain genes that are responsible for the development of internal and external sex organs.

What is not discussed in traditional physiology textbooks are the relatively newer scientific discoveries surrounding the fact that EVERY cell in your body has a sex (not just your egg or sperm cells). For instance, a pancreatic islet cell will contain 22 pairs of autosomes and an XY pair in a male, but in a female the pancreatic islet cell will contain 22 pairs of autosomes and an XX pair. In other words a pancreatic islet is not exactly the same in a female and a male. Genes on the sex chromosomes are expressed differently in males and females and therefore the sex of cells needs to be taken into account when we conduct scientfic research. Because of these basic molecular differences scientists are starting to uncover distinct health differences (beyond the reproductive system) between males and females. The incessant problem of the past is that most research has been conducted in males (XY) and then applied to both women and men with sometimes devastating effects to women. The Institute for Women's Health Research promotes scientific discoveries regarding the contribution of sex and gender to the overall experience of health and disease. Not only do we advocate for increased inclusion of females in research studies, we stress the importance of designing studies so they look specifically at sex and gender variables and that the results are reported appropriately to reflect any differences.