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Tips on Controlling Portion Sizes

If you’ve been eating on the run or at restaurants, you’ve probably noticed that portion sizes have increased over the years. And so are Americans’ waistlines. Larger portions may be appealing for their relatively low prices, but they also come at a higher cost to your health.

The amount of food and drinks you consume can affect not only your weight, but also your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When you are exposed to larger portions you unintentionally consume more calories than intended for one meal or snack. “As long as you’re restricting the total number of calories you take in per day, you can still have a good mix of protein, carbs and fats that don’t exceed what you really should be taking in,” says Andrew Forster M.D., [1] an internal medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care.


(The Baptist Health South Florida News Team hears from Andrew Forster M.D., an internal medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care, about the importance of achieving portion control. Video by George Carvalho and Alcyene Almeida Rodrigues)

When you take control of the portion size of what you eat, you also limit calorie intake, especially when it comes high-calorie foods from fast-food locations and other eateries. Here are some tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2] to help you with portion control.

What are Calories?

Calories represent a tool for calculating the amount of energy in the foods you eat and drink that comes from carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

Calories give you the fuel ncessary to perform your daily activities, but you need to be aware of getting enough nutrients — without consuming too many of them. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) [3] estimates that the amount of calories one adult should consume a day will vary from 2,400 to 3,000, depending on how active they are.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines

The USDA reports that about half of American adults have at least one chronic disease that is often related to poor diet. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (ChooseMyPlate.gov [4]) suggest that you maintain a healthy eating style by: