If you’ve ever sat down in front of the T.V. with a big bag of potato chips, you know how easy it is to eat more than you planned. The reality is that it’s very difficult to judge portion size in this world of biggie this and biggie that – especially when you’re distracted by your favorite television show. That’s why single portion food servings and one-hundred calorie snack packs are so popular. With single portion food snack packs the correct food portion size has already been measured out and you know exactly what you’re getting. But does it really work? How effective are single portion food servings for weight control?
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association did a study in hopes of answering this question. One group of participants was given single portion food servings of typical breakfast foods while a second group was given non-portioned packages of the same food. They were asked to eat one serving of each food for their morning meal. The foods given were alternated over a two month period. The results? The group given the single portion food servings consumed fifteen percent fewer calories overall than those eaters who ate non-portioned servings.
Eating single portion food servings does appear to have some benefit when it comes to calorie intake – at least according to this study. This isn’t surprising considering most people overestimate the amount of food that constitutes a single serving. The issue is made more confusing by the large food portions served in restaurants and fast food joints. Pre-portioned meals and snacks take the guess work out of portion sizing and provide some accountability for how much food is actually eaten.
How can you apply this information? It’s not difficult to eat a diet based on pre-portioned meals and snacks if you’re trying to lose weight. Most grocery stores have a large selection of frozen dinners that are already portioned and make the task of controlling how much you eat easier. One hundred calorie snack packs are a way to keep between meal snacking under control. Unfortunately, many single portion food serving meals and snacks are processed and high in salt, so aren’t the healthiest option. For those who are trying to lose significant weight, Jenny Craig and E-diets offer pre-portioned meals, but these can be expensive.
One option is to prepare your own pre-portioned meals and snacks using fresh ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and meats. You can do this by using a kitchen scale to weigh out exact portions and then place them into trays to go into the freezer. The same can be done with snacks. Preparing a healthy, calorie controlled meal is as easy as placing it in the microwave. Spending a few hours doing this once a week can be a cost effective way to make healthy, single portion food servings without the expense of joining Jenny Craig.