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*[Image Goes Here]*    One of the biggest reasons people can’t lose weight is they have no idea what appropriate portion sizes of food are.


The food industry doesn’t help. Although restaurants usually offer something from each of the 4 food groups with their entrées (except dairy, which is often lacking), the proportion of each food group is grossly distorted. Huge 8-10 oz portions of meat, half a plate of mashed potatoes or fries and itty bitty specks of vegetables on the side doesn’t add up to a healthy meal. And don’t even get me started on the fast food industry’s idea of portion sizes.


A healthy meal looks like this:

Image your dinner plate broken up into sections. One quarter of your plate should have a 3-4 oz portion of lean meat. Another quarter should have 1-2 servings of grains (or starchy food) such as potatoes, rice or pasta. The other entire half of your plate should be made up of 2-3 servings of vegetables. On the side should be a glass of low-fat dairy or soy milk and fruit for dessert.


If you’re having trouble imagining what a 3-4 oz portion of meat looks like, it’s approximately the size of the palm of your hand (without the fingers) or a deck of cards.


A serving of grains is ½ bun, or ½ cup pasta or rice. With your hand form a fist, this is a cup.


A serving of vegetables is ½ cup raw or steamed broccoli, carrots etc. or 1 cup tossed salad.


Also good to know, a serving of cheese is 50 grams or the size of 2 thumbs.


I can just hear the men crying “I’ll starve if I eat portions that small!
This brings us to another huge reason people can’t lose weight – eating too fast.


After you start eating, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it is full of food and to stop. Time yourself when you eat. You may find you’re taking 15 min or less to eat a meal, especially if you were really hungry. As a result you will eat a lot more food. So number one, eat slower.


Number two, have a low fat appetizer before dinner. Munch on a plate of baby carrots with some low fat dip while you’re making supper or eat ½ cup of soup before you attack the entrée. You’ll find your appetite curbed and you’ll eat less.

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There are several steps to healthier eating and weight loss, don’t try and tackle them all at once. Start with decreasing your portion sizes of meat & starchy foods at a meal while increasing portions of vegetables and try eating slower. If that can be mastered, then work on your next step, such as choosing healthier foods all day or increasing your daily physical activity.


Check out the gold standard for healthy eating – Canada’s Food Guide. On the web:
Or contact the Thunder Bay District Health Unit for a free copy. If you would like your own copy of the Pocket Serving Sizer and Food Guide, you can download one from:


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