Serving Size Secrets

August 3, 2015 by
Shocked young   woman inspecting a can’s nutrition label with a magnifying glass

Quick Quiz: How many servings are in a bag of snack-size whole grain crackers? Or a small bottle of locally-pressed juice? Or a lunchbox pack of granola bars? Or a bottle of Honest Tea?

Hint: It’s usually not just “one.” Often, the above products contain two to two-and-a-half servings per package. Take a look at the label to be sure.

Can YOU Eat Just One?

Say that bottle of Honest Tea is 2 servings. I don't know about you, but I'm not stopping at half a bottle. Say that bag of chips is actually 2 servings. Sure, you could go ahead and enjoy just half the bag, but are you really going to do that?

Don’t beat yourself up if the answer is no: If you place food in front of most people, they would eat it all too. It’s just the way we’re wired. 

Sweet Potato Chips

The Perils of Supersizing

Eating too much food in one sitting is hard on your body. Food is meant to be spread throughout the day. Even if you’re practicing intermittent fasting, you’re meant to eat your meals over several hours. Overdosing on too much food at one time can cause pain, upset, and sluggish digestion.

Here’s what can happen:

A surge of glucose is released into your blood. Your pancreas has to work overtime, pumping insulin through the body to absorb all that extra glucose. This can make you feel spacey, weak, irritable, or headachy.

Responding as though there is some type of emergency, your adrenal glands go into “fight or flight” mode and release adrenaline and cortisol, which is the body’s natural response to stress.

When your blood sugar levels finally plummet, you experience wicked cravings for more food—especially simple carbs or sweets. Or you may feel fuzzy-headed, exhausted, and ready for a nap.

As if all that isn’t enough, research has found that immune system function is affected for at least five hours after consuming large amounts of simple carbohydrates (that’s processed foods and sugars).

Ready to right-size your meals?

bowl of vegetable soup with green parsley

5 Tips to Kick Portion Distortion

Don’t over order – and order light. Go for salads or soups and share appetizers, which are typically more reasonably sized than and often just as filling as entrees.

Choose high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to keep you feeling full and energized.

Chew well to aid digestion and give your brain time to register you’re full before you overeat. (This is an expert move!)

Get enough water so you’re not mistaking thirst for hunger. For best digestion, drink a big glass of water 20 - 30 minutes before your meal and just a few ounces with your meal.

Carry your own snacks. Stock up on snack-sized containers and fill them yourself with baby carrots, air-popped popcorn, or nuts.

Notice how you feel after you eat. If you’re satisfied but not stuffed, you’re right on target. Stuffed? You’ve overdone it. That’s good information you can use at your next meal.

Here's to healthy eating and feeling great!