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Serving Size

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I spent the past month cooking my own food (no restaurants – the whole month!) – cooking ANYTHING is very rare for me.  I also started paying attention to nutritional labels and serving sizes.  I had tracked what I ate and drank for a year and a half prior to this adventure, but I learned that reading carefully and noting portion sizes was way more important than I realized.   When I had recorded everything before I had “guessed” on the portion sizes – boy was I off! I had no idea.  Sure I had heard the “deck of cards” reference to the correct serving size of chicken for example, but I had mistakenly used my “guesses” for the calorie counts and hadn’t considered what else had gone into the meal.  For example – was it fried in oil?  How many times have you mindlessly added oil to the frying pan and put in the chicken? Not thinking of the additional calories you are adding to the meal.  One tablespoon of oil (vegetable or olive) = 120 calories.  And then butter – 1 tablespoon = 100 calories.  How many of us use just one tablespoon of butter on a baked potato?

Detailing each ingredient in my diet has taught me so much.  For example, most chicken breasts are 8 ounces, but the serving size is 4 ounces. When I discovered this I was convinced that there was no way I was going to be full with half a chicken breast!  But with a little taco seasoning and 2 corn tortillas fried with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil with a little cilantro on top – it was delicious!  And guess what?  I was full.  An added benefit is that I actually tasted the food! I quickly learned that when I eat a smaller portion, I may not have the familiar “full” feeling but if I wait a few minutes I am just fine.  This was a major finding for me.  Instead of eating more to obtain the feeling I was used to having, I diverted my attention and I felt good. 

The other detail I focused on was sodium.  Wow – that was a wake-up call.  Frozen food and canned food have an astonishing amount of salt.  Not only are the foods not as nutritionally good for you, they are loaded with sodium – some of them have more than the DAILY requirement.  That’s crazy.  I stopped buying anything with over 500 mg a serving.  Amazingly, sometimes that is quite hard.  

I am also learning to cook more items. Cooking a 1 lb. bag of pinto beans cuts down substantially on the sodium, the dangers of canned foods and the cost.  I had tried to make them years ago and it didn’t go well, so I was tentative to try again, but I did and they were fabulous.  So happy that I am taking control of my food choices and creating a lifestyle I can stick with, and one that makes me feel good too!

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