Voted most commonly asked question: “How much should I eat?” Assuming that ‘men’ need a larger portion size and ‘women’ need a smaller portion size is an outdated way of thinking, yet we still see this way of thinking play into diet culture today.
Why is the hamburger considered ‘masculine’ but the Caprese salad considered ‘feminine’? Gender-based stereotyping and labeling exists in many places, even in food! Studies show that presentation, ingredients and portion size contribute to viewing foods as masculine or feminine, which may affect someone’s choices and food intake. Based on gender-stereotyping alone, you may not meet your needs for adequate nutrition. Your needs go far beyond the gender you identify with, so don’t let gender alone dictate how much you eat.
GENDER’S ROLE IN DETERMINING PORTION SIZES
Portion size is determined by many factors starting with your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Yes, gender is a factor in the BMR equation, but BMR is also determined by your age, height, and weight. From there it’s important to factor in your daily activity level and personal goals– do you want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain? You may be on a muscle gain journey or a fat loss journey. All of these variables, when combined, help dictate portions. Furthermore, when all of these factors are taken into consideration, gender becomes more of a moot point. In fact, the burger may have just as many calories as the Caprese salad, and the portion size of each should be based on needs that go far beyond gender identity.
THE RIGHT PORTION SIZES FOR YOU
We know it can be tough to determine how much you should be eating. A Registered Dietitian (RD) at Culina Health can determine the right amount specific for you based on your BMR, activity level and goals. A RD will work with you to educate on balancing your plate, healthy eating patterns, and will help you navigate mindful eating and eating in line with your hunger and fullness feelings– because at the core, being educated about nutrition and health and developing a healthy mindset around food is of utmost importance when it comes to navigating your food intake. Portion sizes are a great guide to build and balance your plate and can be an easy way to eat for your needs without having to be rigid about measuring and counting calories. Here are some tips and tricks to becoming a plating pro:
- Hungry? Eat. If you are hungry, please honor this hunger with a snack or a meal! Practice mindfulness while eating so that you eat until satisfied as opposed to eating until stuffed.
- Utilize the plate method. The plate method can be useful in balancing portions of the main components of a meal. Try to fill half of your plate with veggies, with the other half being split between protein and carbohydrate.
- Break out your built in measuring tools- your hands!
- Make a fist: this is about the size of 1 cup.
- Read your palm: The size of your palm is about 3 oz of meat, fish or poultry.
- Give a thumbs up: Your thumb from tip to base is about 1 oz, or 1 serving, of cheese.
- Shoot some finger guns: Your thumb tip (top to first knuckle) is 1 teaspoon, and the distance between your first and second joint on your index finger is about an inch.
- Fill a handful: A handful is about 1-2 oz of snacks like nuts, which is a great serving size!
Interested in getting more specific with your individualized needs? Book a session with a Registered Dietitian!