To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. The bottom line when it comes to weight loss is that you need to control your meal and snack portions throughout the day, which is not always easy when you’re on the road.
Have no fear – portion control doesn’t mean you have to eat tiny portions of everything. You don’t want to feel deprived of food, you just want to eat fewer calories. It’s so easy to eat more than we should because our portion sizes are influenced by everything besides the right thing. Product packaging (chips & snacks), fast food and restaurant services (super sizes) and filling our dishes to the brim (cereal) all cue us to eat more than we should at one time.
Most people don’t really have a good idea of what their portion size should be according to the USDA-recommended serving sizes. Having a mental visual of how much you should be eating can help correct portion size confusion – and could help you save more than 1,000 calories per day!
Here are 6 portion size visualizations to help you remember what the correct potion measurement should be for common foods truck drivers tend to include in their diets.
1. Coffee creamer
Many truck drivers drink coffee and some truckers drink A LOT of coffee. Adding in too much creamer can really add up. The correct serving size for fat free creamer is 1 tablespoon (tbsp) or 25 calories. This is roughly the size of a wine bottle cork or a plastic medicine cup (think cough medicine or Pepto Bismol.) If you’re a truck driver who likes to load up on coffee and creamer, this change alone could really help reduce your calorie intake.
2. Dry cereal
Dry cereal with milk is also a common breakfast for many truck drivers because it’s readily available at truck stops and is quick and easy to prepare and eat. Most people tend to eat way too much at one sitting. The correct portion size for dry cereal is 1 cup or 110-130 calories. Think of the size of a teacup or a 1 cup measuring cup to help you visualize the correct portion. One thing you can do while on the road is to keep a measuring cup handy to use when measuring your cereal.
Nuts are another food that are actually really healthy for you but that most of us tend to overeat. Nuts are heart healthy but it’s so easy to eat them mindlessly right out of the bag or tin. The right serving size for a snack of nuts is 1 ounce (or about 150 calories.) A handful is usually a good portion of nuts to eat.
4. Dried fruit
Dried fruit is delicious and, if eaten in the right portion, can give you quick energy and needed vitamins. Dried fruit is very condensed and high in fructose, so you should limit your portion size to ½ cup or 220 calories. Try measuring your dried fruit out into an empty Altoids tin to get the correct portion.
5. Baked Potato
A baked potato is a common side dish at restaurants or even from some fast food places, like Wendy’s. But too often, they serve potatoes that are too large. The correct portion size is a medium-sized spud or approximately 100 calories. Visualize the dimensions of a travel tissue pack for portion control.
6. Cooked meat
Meat is a staple protein in many truck drivers’ diets. Try to order meats with a medium fat content and opt for a serving size of about 3 ounces or 225-250 calories. The correct size of a hamburger patty is roughly the size of a standard kitchen sponge. Many restaurants serve a ½ pound of ground beef on their hamburgers, which would be too high at 500 calories.
Bread and grains are measured by the ounce. One serving size of bread is 1 ounce or 70-90 calories, the equivalent of 1 slice bread, 1/2 6” sandwich roll (Subway), ½ bagel, 1 small biscuit, ½ English Muffin or ½ cup of cooked pasta or rice (brown or white). Visualize the inside of the palm of your hand for the correct size.
Eating healthy includes making healthy food choices at the right portion size. Once you get a good idea of the right serving sizes, you can plan your meals and snacks accordingly – and that can help you on your weight loss journey.
AAOO is here to support your weight loss and getting healthy goals! When it comes to becoming a healthier truck driver and owner-operator, turn to AAOO for information and support. You can find video recipes that are easy to make on the go in your truck on our YouTube channel. Make sure you subscribe to get updates every time a new recipe is released.