Below is my blog post for Huffington Post “Portion alert: 5 healthy foods you can easily overeat.”
You can also read it HERE.
As a nutritionist, I counsel many clients who know what foods to eat to lose weight and be healthy. However, even the most educated of consumers may have trouble determining how much to eat of these foods. It is possible that eating too many of even the right foods can prevent you from losing weight. Hence, the need for a reality check and tips for portion control!
Here are five foods that are easy to overeat along with my suggestions.
1. Ready-to-eat cereal.
We know to stay away from sugar-sweetened cereals and choose a cereal where the first ingredient is a whole grain. However, pouring your healthy whole grain cereal into an oversize bowl can often spell disaster. It is a bigger problem for dense cereals like granola. In fact, it is easy to consume several hundred calories of granola in one sitting without realizing it.
As I discuss in my book The Portion Teller Plan, I advise clients watching their weight to eat approximately one ounce of ready-to-eat cereal. A one ounce serving of cereal can range in volume from ¼ cup of granola to approximately 1 cup cereal flakes to 2 cups puffed wheat.
My tip: It is important to read the food label and measure out the volume of cereal you plan to eat before pouring it in your bowl.
Nuts are healthy. They contain healthy fats and also help us to feel full. However, it is easy to eat too many nuts. Especially if you are eating them straight from an oversize jar or at a bar when having a drink with a friend.
The recommended serving of nuts to eat is 1 ounce. That translates into a handful (a golf ball’s worth) or the amount that can fit into an Altoids tin.
My tip: When home, I suggest portioning out several servings worth and placing them in baggies to avoid over-nutting.
3. Olive oil.
We hear that a green salad drizzled in olive oil is healthy. This is true. After all, greens are super nutritious and olive oil contains monounsaturated heart healthy fat. But… olive oil still contains calories, at least 100 calorie per tablespoon.
The recommended serving of olive oil or an olive oil based salad dressing is 1-2 tablespoons, an amount that will fill a shot glass. When eating out, we are often served a salad with at least 4 tablespoons of salad dressing!
My tip: Next time you order a salad out, ask for the dressing on the side.
Hummus, or chick pea dip, is a super healthy snack. Hummus contains protein and healthy fats. Fresh veggies dipped in hummus makes for a great snack. However, it is easy to overdo it, especially if you buy the jumbo tubs of hummus or if you are nibbling at a cocktail party.
I suggest eating approximately 2 tablespoons worth of hummus as a snack. This looks like a walnut in a shell.
My tip: Add baby carrots, celery, and red pepper for crunch, volume, and a boost of nutrients.
5. Fresh squeezed orange juice
I’ve written previously I suggest swapping a glass of juice for an orange. You will gain fiber and the mere fact that you are chewing your food helps you consume fewer calories. but fresh squeezed OJ can be healthy. However, it is easy to guzzle down a pint’s worth in the blink of an eye. Especially since it is hard to buy a smaller size.
The suggested serving size for juice is 4-6 ounces. That is approximately half a glass worth.
My tip: Next time you buy a pint of fresh squeezed juice, share it three ways or save the rest for another day.