The key to good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight is all about the portion size, says local registered dietitian Diane Jackshaw.
She said there is a lot of confusion surrounding what a correct portion size is, which often leads individuals to overconsumption followed by weight gain.
“Everything’s sort of got super sized,” she said, adding that fast-food culture has led people to believe portions are much larger than they actually are.
Correct portion size is top of mind for many Albertans, making it one of the most-asked questions for Alberta Health Services (AHS).
People want to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight, but it can often seem like a difficult task, Jackshaw said.
She recommends following Canada’s Food Guide, which outlines certain specifications for males and females in various age categories. She said it is important to be aware of how much food one should consume to prevent chronic health problems in the future.
“There’s a lot in the news right now about carbohydrates and grains,” she said. “People give carbohydrates a bad wrap, but it’s because they eat eight servings at a time.”
The average adult, between 19 and 50 years old, should consume seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, six to eight servings of grains, two servings of dairy and between two and three servings of meat or alternatives per day.
The general rule is to have roughly two servings of fruits and vegetables as well as two servings of grains per meal, with each serving being roughly half a cup, she said.
Jackshaw recommends eating every four hours, with snacks to offset remaining servings.
“If you go more than four hours without eating, your blood sugars drop and you get symptoms like tiredness, headache, fatigue, grouchiness and cravings,” she said.
To assist with portion control, Health Link Alberta recommends making a simple change to the way one eats.
Since fast-food containers and packaged foods make it harder for someone to see the amount of food they are consuming, Health Link Alberta recommends discarding packaging and simply placing food on a plate.
This simple act is aimed at making an individual more mindful of the volume of food – and the volume of each food group – they are eating on a regular basis.
Jackshaw said by being aware of how much food and what kind of food is going into someone’s body, they will be able to make healthier food choices at mealtime.