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The Heart Beat: Healthy eating is only half the battle


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By Curtis Bovee

Staff Writer

It has become obvious that portion sizes have gotten larger over the decades — throughout restaurants and grocery stores.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults and approximately one-fifth of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years old are obese.

Portion sizes have certainly fueled this obesity epidemic. According to the American Dietetic Association, the size of dinner plates has increased by 36 percent over the last decade.

It is no secret, the more food on your plate, the more you will eat. Making less food every meal is a great way to combat portion control issues. Having an abundance of food at the dinner table is far worse than not having enough, which in all actuality is probably enough.

From the lack of nutritional food offered to the overwhelmingly large portion sizes, America’s restaurants are contributing to the obesity problem rather than helping it. For example, at Outback Steakhouse, a popular chain-restaurant throughout the globe, an order of Mac-A-Roo ‘N Cheese yields over 600 calories, with greater than 220 of those from fat. It is safe to say that this menu item is popular amongst the youngsters; however, there is no reason why an 8 year old should consume all of this in one sitting.

Solution? Allow your child to eat less than half, and order a side of vegetables. Your caloric total will still be around half of the entire portion, while offering nutritional value.

Importantly, don’t forget about what is on your plate. Just because you are eating less doesn’t give you permission to eat anything. The USDA recommends that half your plate should be fruits and vegetables. For the remainder of your plate, about half should be a protein source and the other half should be whole grains. Using this as a template should make it easy to determine how much of each kind of food you should be consuming.

When attempting to eat less, cravings are inevitable, thus stressing the importance of snacking. To help with portion control, try eating snacks throughout the day. Include things like fruit and vegetables, and foods with healthy fats like nuts. Nuts, including walnuts, pecans and almonds offer healthy fats, keep you fuller longer and are easy to pack and take anywhere.

What you are drinking is just as important. Soda is incredibly harmful to your health, and is over-consumed in America because it is cheap and easily accessible. Most sit-down restaurants offer free refills of soft beverages, which seems inexcusable given the large glass sizes. Did you know that one can of Coca Cola contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar? Replacing soft drinks with water at the dinner table can drastically decrease chances of obesity and rapidly improve health.

Remember, portion control is not easy. Fortunately, it is far better for your health than some fad diet and it is something you can practice forever to improve your health.

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The Heart Beat: Healthy eating is only half the battle