Oklahomans Encouraged to Adjust Portion Sizes to Improve Overall Nutrition
Jumbo sizes might not be outlawed in Oklahoma, but residents who want to eat nutritiously or even lose a few pounds might want to skip the larger portions.
“An adult can consume as much as 50 to 75 percent more calories just by eating over-sized portions,” stressed Diana Romano, a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service and a Registered Dietitian. “So many fast-food restaurants offer giant or jumbo sizes just for a few cents more that many people actually think they’re getting a bargain when they order these.
In reality, people are not getting a bargain, Romano insisted.
“When you order more than your body needs to stay healthy, all you are getting for your money is extra pounds and fat on your body,” Romano said. “Eating just 3,500 calories more every week than your body needs to function means you will put on an extra pound.”
Choosing to jumbo-size your fries and soft drink may seem like a bargain, but what you are really getting for your 50 cents is about an extra 1/6 of a pound of fat, Romano pointed out. Too,
3,500 extra calories is about the equivalent of three double quarter-pounders with cheese and three large soft drinks.
“If you choose to eat high-fat burgers and fries from a fast-food restaurant everyday for lunch, the odds are you are eating way too many calories,” Romano stressed.
For children, too, choosing the small size versus the kid’s sizes may mean that your child will get 25 percent more calories than she needs, Romano explained.
“The key to having a healthy diet is learning to balance how much you eat with how active you are,” Romano stated. “Oklahomans have one of the highest obesity and overweight rates in the nation, not just for adults but for children as well.”
In the last few decades, the number of obese and overweight adults has skyrocketed. And for children, the number of preschool children who are obese has doubled.
“Statistics tell us that something is wrong with the way we eat,” Romano said. “Not only are we choosing to eat the wrong kinds of food too often, but we’re also eating way too much of them.”
A good diet, Romano explained, consists of plenty fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
“We also need to be aware when we’re eating with our ‘eyes’ instead of our stomachs,”
Romano said. “Children are much better about following their body’s cues for fullness. Adults
need to take a cue from them and pay attention when their body feels full.”
Adults also need to realize they shouldn’t eat when they’re not hungry. At the same time, they need to be careful not to overfeed their children or force them to eat when they’re not hungry, Romano indicated.
“It’s not always easy to eat the right portion sizes in our American culture,” Romano said. “With oversized dinner plates and cups we use for serving, as well as the huge portions served by most restaurants, it can be a real challenge to eat right.”
For instance, Romano indicated that an appropriate portion size of lean meat is equal to around three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.
“People who are trying to eat healthier need to be very aware of how much they eat,” Romano said. “They also need to be aware of what they eat.”
Romano suggested that adults use smaller plates when eating, since less food will be required to actually fill the plate. People also need to eat fewer “empty” calories, or calories that come from high-sugar and high-fat contents.
“It’s okay to sometimes eat foods we enjoy,” Romano explained. “But we do need to eat less of them and to avoid oversized portions in general.”
“There are so many benefits to eating nutritiously,” she added. “Not only will you maintain a healthy weight, but you will also help prevent diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and a long list of other diseases. We should all make it a priority to eat healthier and become more physically active.”
For more information about health and nutrition, access the OSU Cooperative Extension Service’s Fact Sheet data base at osufactsheets.okstate.edu.