Everything in moderation

February 19, 2013|Lynn Little

Some foods are more healthful than others; however, there are no "good" or "bad" foods. All of your favorite foods can fit into a well-balanced diet with a little planning.  Moderation is the key and it will allow you to avoid the feeling of deprivation often associated with the word "diet." 

Look at your plate. A good rule of thumb is to visualize your plate before filling it up. MyPlate ( recommends that half of your plate should be reserved for fruits and vegetables and the other half should consist of grain products and lean meats, beans or other protein source.

Listen to your body. Keep in mind that the more you put on your plate, the more likely you are to consume excess calories. Try using smaller plates and go back for more if you are still hungry. This is where listening to your body is key. Many people eat quickly and continue eating past the point of fullness. By stopping when you feel satisfied and avoiding the urge to finish everything on your plate, you will consume fewer calories.

Rather than serving foods family style try portioning all your foods onto plates in advance. It will be easier to control portion sizes.

When snacking, avoid eating directly from the bag or box. This can lead to mindless eating with no way to determine exactly how much you have consumed.

Practice estimating portion sizes using common objects such as:

 1 deck of playing cards = a 3-ounce serving of meat

 1 baseball = 1 cup of fruits and vegetables

 1 hockey puck = a 3-ounce bagel

 3 dominoes = 1/2 ounces of natural cheese, such as cheddar

 1 computer mouse = 1 medium potato. 

 The tip of your thumb to the first joint = 1 teaspoon of margarine or butter

 1 tennis ball = 1 cup of pasta

  9-volt battery = 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

 CD = 1 ounce slice of bread

Check out the information on portion and serving sizes at You can download a Serving Size Card to help you recall what a standard food serving looks like. Cut out the card and laminate it for long time use. At this link you can also check out the menu planner and sample menus for weight loss.

When striving for moderation in all foods you may be amazed at how it will impact and reduce your daily caloric intake. 

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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