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Tips on healthy food portions

Trans fats vs. saturated fats vs. unsaturated fats. With so many options and confusing labels, making healthy food choices can be challenging. Even after you've made your healthy food choices at the grocery store, you now need to think of how much to serve on your plate.

"Making healthy food choices including how much you eat doesn't have to be overwhelming,” says Laura Goodwin, a Registered Dietitian at North York General Hospital (NYGH). “Knowing a few key rules can help you get on the road to a healthy lifestyle.”

Laura Goodwin, Registered Dietitian, North York General Hospital

Laura Goodwin, Registered Dietitian at North York General Hospital says

Label reading— Make sure to read the nutrients in your food per serving and compare that to what you are actually eating. Some foods like canned soups may give you information based on a 3/4 cup serving size as opposed to the whole can.

Plate sizes —The size of your plate matters because the more space there is, the more you'll want to fill it. Regular household dinner plates are approximately 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Choose a side plate or dessert plate instead which tend to be around 8.5 inches or smaller. The smaller the place, the more accurate your food serving will be. It also helps visually with not having your plate look so empty.

Food portions— A handy tool for measuring your food is your hand! You can quickly and easily measure the appropriate serving size of food from all the food groups using this method. Pasta, rice, vegetables, meat and other foods can be measured with the size of your palm or with a closed fist. For example, one serving (2.5 onces or 75 grams) of cooked chicken, beef, fish or pork is approximately equal to the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. For measuring one serving (1/2 cup) of pasta, rice or cereal, you can use half of your fist. Be sure to refer to Canada's Food Guide or speak with a registered dietitian to determine how many servings of each food group you should be eating in a day.
 
A handy tool for measuring your food is your hand! You can quickly and easily measure the appropriate serving size of food from all the food groups using this method.

Laura says eating out at times can be challenging. Meals at restaurants usually have larger than normal recommended serving sizes. A good tip to keep in mind is asking for a takeout box at the beginning of your meal and cutting everything in half to have a more appropriate individual serving size.

“Online resources such as Eat Right Ontario and Dietitians of Canada are very helpful,” says Laura, one of 20 dietitians currently on staff at NYGH. “There are tools on these sites to help you figure out how much of each food group to eat for both adults and children and to help track your daily food consumption.”
 
April 5, 2016

This article first appeared in the April 2016 issue of The Pulse, North York General Hospital's community newsletter. Subscribe to receive 10 issues per year.