When the food on your plate or in your bowl doesn’t match a proper, healthy serving size, you may have “portion distortion.”
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But food lovers, rejoice: Portion distortion goes both ways. I’ve written in the past about foods people tend to overeat, but there are certain foods people eat in too-small portions, too.
The four foods below come with plentiful health benefits — and you can probably eat more of them than you think.
Berries contain an amazing amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals — all in a tiny, power-packed package. These sweet or tart treats come with an extra benefit: You can snack on them by the handful. Berries often come in pint-sized containers. Because a proper portion is one cup, you can eat half a container at a time. Enjoy, and eat up.
2. Green vegetables
If you want to improve the ratios on your dinner plate, add more vegetables, which people tend to under-eat, and smaller portions of proteins such as meat, which people tend to overdo. Whether you’re munching on asparagus for its antioxidants, fiber and folate or digging into a plate of Brussels sprouts for their cancer-fighting properties, a good rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of cooked or one cup of raw vegetables.
Many people avoid eating walnuts because of their fat content. But keep in mind the type of fat they contain. A good snack portion of walnuts is 1/4 cup, which contains 11 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat can help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and lower the risk of heart disease. In addition to containing this beneficial fat, walnuts are a good source of fiber and vitamin B6. And they’re the only nuts that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Starchy vegetables
Starchy vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They include white potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and a variety of winter squashes, green peas and corn. When eaten in moderation, they provide a rich source of vitamin B-6 and potassium. Generally, 1/2 cup is a good — and filling — serving size for starchy vegetables. A baked potato is the exception; keep your portion to about the size of a computer mouse.
By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
Jennifer D’Angelo contributed to this article.