How Much Food Should You Eat

Cupcakes as big as flower pots. Bowls of pasta and salad so deep you can dive in it. Burgers the size of a coliseum. One of the major reasons our waistlines have become bigger over the last few decades is because we tend to eat more than we used to and way more than we need to.

Portion size

Many of us do not realize that we are consuming too much food because we have become so used to seeing large portions. Portion sizes started to increase more than two decades ago and have been increasing ever since. For example, in the 1980s, an average bagel was three inches in diameter and had 140 calories. Today, an average bagel is six inches in diameter and has 350 calories.

Such overabundance can be costly. In addition to becoming overweight, consuming big portions of food can result in several health problems, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleeping and breathing problems, joint and bone problems, and even depression. People who overeat have higher risk of developing heart failure, heart disease, and stroke later in life.

Eat smart

Portion sizes only tell us how much nutrition we are getting from a certain food. They do not tell us which foods we need to stay healthy and how much food should we eat. This is where the United States Department of Agriculture’s update on the ubiquitous food guide pyramid comes in – the MyPyramid.

MyPyramid contains six food groups: grains (recommending whole grains), vegetables (emphasizing dark green and orange ones, peas and dry beans), fruits (deemphasizing fruit juices), oils (recommending nut, fish, and vegetables sources), dairy (including fluid milk), and meat and beans (emphasizing lean and low-fatĀ  meats like fish and more seeds, nuts, peas, and beans).

MyPyramid helps you to know how much of these foods you should eat based on your gender, age, and activity level. Once you figure out the types of foods as well as the quantities you should be consuming, it is easier to know how much food your body actually needs against how much it wants.

More tips

Being conscious about realistic serving sizes will keep you from overeating. Here are more portion-control tips: Eat your food on a smaller plate; this will make your food look larger. Do not take an entire container of ice cream or bag of chips to your couch. Eat three well-rounded meals plus two healthy snacks daily.