In many families, children eat servings that double or
triple the recommendations for each age. Controlling portion sizes
is essential to prevent overweight.
Super-sized burgers with double cheese, for the same price as the regular versions; french fries and giant soda if you buy the menu; extra-large popcorn with “refill”; there’s no need to inquire much to see how portion sizes have grown over the last years.
Dietitians explain this easily: due to economic reasons, people give in to super-sized offers, because they feel they’re getting more for their money.
However, what few adults realize is that as portion sizes increase, so do overweight and obesity among children. And this is no longer an economic issue, but a very serious health matter. Obesity causes other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, respiratory and sleep disorders, and even depression, among others.
The Right Measure
The current diet of children, in many cases, doubles or triples the recommended portions. In fact, if you read the labels of packaged foods, you can usually confirm that they serve two or three. This means we’re probably giving our children two to three times the fat and calories they should actually eat. To know how much the right serving is, always read the Nutrition Facts label of pre-packaged foods.
For meals prepared at home, it’s important for you to know the recommended portions so you serve your kids the right amount that will allow them to maintain a healthy diet. In www.mypyramid.gov, you’ll find more information about the types of food a child should eat on each stage of growth.
Follow these tips to control portions:
• When preparing food, read labels and serve one portion on each plate. Don’t allow your children to eat directly from the package, because they will eat more.
• Avoid eating in front of the television or while doing something else.
• Teach them to eat slowly, so they learn to detect when their stomach is full.
• Replace your current plates with smaller ones. This way, your kids reduce their servings.
• If you made too much food, store what you will not use in the freezer, right after serving it. This way, you won’t have the chance to continue eating later.
• Don’t let your kids spend too long without eating. This would make them be excessively hungry at lunch or dinner, and probably eat so fast they won’t realize when they’re satisfied.
• Although more expensive, choose small or individual packages when you buy snacks. If you prefer large containers, divide the content into small servings.
• If you buy cookies or ice cream, serve a portion equal to ½ cup of ice cream and one ounce (28 grams) of cookies.
• To estimate serving sizes, keep in mind that one cup is about the size of a fist. This is the recommended amount for pasta, rice, vegetables, and fruits. If you’re cooking meat, one serving equals the size of the palm of your hand. Mayonnaise, butter and dressings should not exceed the size of the tip of your thumb.
Following these tips, you’ll be able to have absolute control of everything that happens in your kitchen. And that’s exactly what leading an organized, healthy diet is about.
Source: Weight-control Information Network de National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health
“How Much Should I Eat”, www.KidsHealthGov.org
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