Quick quiz: how many portions are in a bag of snack-size whole grain crackers? Or a small bottle of juice? Or a lunchbox pack of granola bars? It's not "one". Often, these products contain two or two-and-a-half servings per package.
Can YOU eat just one? Sure, you could go ahead and enjoy just half the bag, but are you really going to do that? Don't beat yourself up if the answer is no. If you place food in front of most people, they tend to eat it all. It's just the way we are wired.
Eating too much food in one sitting is hard on your body. Here's why:
• Food is meant to be eaten throughout the day. Overdosing on too much food at one time causes pain, upset, and sluggish digestion.
• A surge of glucose is released into your blood. Your pancreas has to work overtime, pumping insulin through the body to absorb all that extra glucose. This can make you feel spacey, weak, irritable, or headachy.
• Thinking there is some type of emergency, your adrenal glands go into "fight or flight" mode and release adrenaline and cortisol, which is the body's natural response to stress.
• When your blood sugar levels finally plummet, you experience wicked cravings for more food - specifically simple carbs or sweets.
• Research has found that immune system function is affected for at least five hours after consuming large amounts of simple carbohydrates.
Try these five tips to kick portion distortion:
1. Don't over order - go for salad, soups, and appetizers, which are typically more reasonable sized than entrees.
2. Choose high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to keep you feeling full and energized.
3. Chew well to aid digestion and give your brain time to register you're full before you overeat.
4. Get enough water. Often we mistake thirst for hunger.
5. Carry your own snacks. Stock up on snack-sized containers and fill them with baby carrots, air-popped popcorn, or nuts.
Take action this week by reading labels of your foods and noticing how many servings are in the container. Then eat just one serving. Portion awareness and control is required for better health.