Nutritional Tips for Parents - The Devil is in the Details
One of the most important lessons learned by children, teens, and their families at Wellspring Camps is that “The Devil is in the Details.” All weight controllers must first realize that consistent very low-fat eating and high levels of activity are vital ingredients in successful weight control. The next major focus concerns details.
Consider your own observations about the sizes of portions in restaurants over the past twenty or thirty years. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s, McDonald’s offered only one size of French fries. It contained 200 calories, like today’s “small.” Then, in the 1970s, the original size fries became the “small” and a 320 calorie-sized portion became “large.” By 2000, the large swelled to 450 calories and the “super-size” ballooned to 610 calories. On the healthier front, some restaurant chains now make a good thing (pasta) into a monster by serving six cups of pasta, at 1200 calories – without sauce – as regular entrees.
Weight controllers need to know the details of portion sizes in order to both lose weight and maintain it. Many people find visual images quite useful when they estimate portion sizes. See which of the following images surprise you:
3 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish = deck of playing cards
1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish = matchbook
1 cup of fruit or yogurt = baseball
½ cup of chopped veggies = three ice cubes
1 cup of potatoes, rice, or pasta = a fist or a tennis ball
1 medium orange or apple = baseball
1 standard bagel = hockey puck
2 tablespoons of peanut butter = golf ball
1 ounce of cheese = four dice or a tube of lipstick
Many people find the matchbook image for an ounce of meat surprisingly small and the fist for a cup of rice also much smaller than expected. Unfortunately, losing weight is a numbers game. The body “wants” to keep the weight on and will be only too “happy” when the weight controller pretends that a cup of pasta should be about the size of Montana .
Here are a few other tips that can make portion sizes more manageable and easier to use to keep calories under control at home:
- Have the family eat meals on smaller plates and bowls to get a feeling of eating a lot when a little is there.
- Make sure your children avoid eating directly out of the bag or container. Dish out a serving, or two to them so they’ll relish each bite.
- Eat as slowly as possible and focus on the texture, taste, and aroma of the food. Focus on savoring, not gulping.
- At meal times, have the family concentrate on eating or eating and talking rather than eating mindlessly (and therefore without a sense of the details of the amounts) while watching TV.