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How Important is Portion Size?

April 26th, 2019

By: Lenora Alabi

When the food set in front of your aging relative is delicious, it can be hard not to pile heaps of it on the plate. However, doing so can lead to overeating and weight gain, eating too much sodium, and an upset stomach. The problem is often that many people don’t really know what a portion size looks like. Americans are used to going to restaurants where they receive a big plate full of food, which has distorted our understanding of what a real portion is. But, knowing about portion sizes is an important part of helping your aging relative to remain as healthy as possible.

How to Determine Proper Portions

The first step in determining the portion size of some foods, like cereal, is to look at the nutritional label. The label will list a serving size, which is the amount a person is supposed to eat in a sitting. In addition to the serving size, the label also lists other important information like calories and the amount of substances like sodium, sugar, and fat. This information is especially important to older adults who are on special diets because of medical conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

While it can be a hassle to measure food, it can help you get a better feel for what a portion is. Over time, you’ll get better at recognizing a portion and won’t need to measure as much. You can also use common objects to help you estimate portion size, such as:

  • Deck of Cards: The size of a portion of meat or poultry.
  • Tennis Ball: A half cup of rice, pasta, or ice cream.
  • Checkbook: A serving of fish.
  • Ping Pong Ball: Two tablespoons of peanut butter.

Tricks for Sticking to Portion Sizes

It’s not always easy to stick to portion sizes, but there are tricks you can use to help keep your aging relative on track. Some tricks to try are:

  • Serve snacks in portion sizes instead of allowing the senior to eat from the bag.
  • Use smaller plates to trick the eye into thinking portions are larger than they are.
  • Divide the plate in half, then fill half of it with vegetables. Split the other side of the plate in half again. Fill one part with lean protein and the other with whole grains.

Elderly care providers can help seniors stick to correct portion sizes. An elderly care provider can prepare healthy meals for the older adult, then fill the plate for them so they don’t eat too much. Elderly care providers can also offer healthy snacks that are already in correct portion sizes, preventing seniors from mindlessly eating. 

Sources
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/just-enough-food-portions
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000337.htm
 

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HIRING ELDERLY CARE IN LINCOLN PARK, IL, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT BRIGHTSTAR CARE CHICAGO. CALL TODAY: 312.382.8888.