Upon returning from vacation overseas in Italy and Spain, I’m still reminiscing on the delicious food and drinks enjoyed in all areas. Along with the beautiful views and cultural history, dining experiences were unforgettable. I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the food culture overseas versus here in the US. Walking along the streets in the morning, restaurants would be receiving fresh fruits and vegetables daily or shopping at the corner markets for their daily stock. Street stands and corner stores had fresh cut fruits and savory vegetable sandwiches to offer versus packaged, processed foods often sought after here. While healthy fresh foods are abundantly available here in the US, and Baton Rouge, it’s all about making the right choices when it comes down to snacking and meals. Along with more vegetable based options in Italy & Spain restaurants, the portions of foods were perfect; not too much, not too little. There were no televisions or media distractions in restaurants, the focus was the food, wine, and atmosphere. Taking more time between courses provided the ability to fully enjoy each bite and the overall experience of eating.
Having perfect portions provided the opportunity for more mindful eating and enjoyment of several courses to appreciate the flavor profile of each. To get an idea of better portion control, especially when dining out, follow these easy tips:
- A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards
- A serving of fat should be about the size of a ping pong ball or your thumb
- A serving of bread should be about the size of a flat hand
- A serving of rice or pasta should fit into a handful, about ½ cup
- A serving of cooked veggies should be about a fist sized
- A serving of salad or leafy greens should be about two fists together
If you have limited access to fresh produce, frozen options (with no added salt or sauces) are just as healthy as fresh and can sometimes be more convenient to store and prepare. Portion control is all about making the right choices too; just because a large portion is served at a restaurant does not mean you have to consume all in one sitting. Additionally, if serving yourself at home and you find you’re full before you have a “clean plate” save the rest for left overs – or feed them to your boyfriend.