One of the simplest ways to eat healthier is portion control.  Eat less and don’t eat too much – sounds easy, right?  It is way too easy to eat or drink more than you plan to and learning the correct serving size may be shocking.

Serving sizes have grown along with our waistlines.  Many researchers have found that the typical serving size from restaurants, fast food chains and other takeout restaurants were about 195% larger than the average serving size set by the USDA.  Muffins were more than 333 percent bigger and cooked pasta were 480 percent larger!

How Much Should I Eat?

Keeping a healthy weight is important.  To do this, you need to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn.  People who are active burn more calories.

The number of calories you eat also depends on your age, sex, weight, genes and physical activity.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides information on the number of calories a person should eat.

The true measure of your food intake is portion control.

What Is Portion Control

Portion control involves understanding the serving size of food and how many calories are in each serving.  It is important for body weight management since weight is control by total calorie intake.

Check out our article on Meal Prepping

Portion Control Tips

Don’t let the idea of portion control make your feel overwhelmed. Using these tips can teach you how to control portion sizes.

  1. Divide Your Plate: Fill your plate on one side with fruits and/or vegetables. Leave the rest for equal parts protein and starch.  All meals should have fruits and vegetables to be complete.
  2. Dish Out Servings Before Eating: Serve food in the kitchen and not family style.  Having a large bowl on the table encourages another serving unless this is a fruit or vegetable you would like your family to eat more of regularly.
  3. Downsize Dishes: Use smaller plates to serve your meals on so portions don’t look as tiny.  For example, using an 8″ plate versus a 12″ plate will make the same size portion look more fulfilling. Using a smaller bowl for treats, such as ice-cream, will make it less tempting to add more than you should eat.
  4. Don’t Eat Out Of Containers Or Bags: This can lead to mindless munch, which is when you lose track of how much you ate.
  5. Turn Off The Television: TV will distract you from what you are eating.  You can also lose track of portion sizes.
  6. Learn How To Estimate Serving Sizes: Using common items to compare serving sizes to makes it much more easy to control. For example, cooked meat serving size should be about the size of a deck of cards.  One cup is about the size of a tennis ball.  Pasta serving size is about the size of a scoop of ice cream.  For snacks, a quarter cup of nuts or trail mix is about the size of an egg.  Chips or pretzel snack sizes are about the size of two handfuls.

    portion control plate

    Click to Enlarge

  7. Read Food Labels: It’s important to read food labels carefully when monitoring portion sizes. Start with the calorie count, but then look beyond that. Food labels can also be useful pieces of information for sugar and carbohydrate counts.   Make sure you know the serving size. Sometimes serving sizes are double what you think, which means you would have to double all the counts for calories and other counts.
  8. Listen To Your Body: Eat when you are hungry but learn to stop when you are satisfied or comfortable.  There will always be more food later. Don’t eat until you feel miserable.
  9. Control Portions When Eating Out: Eat half of a meal at a restaurant or share with a friend.  Always get the salad dressing on the side.  Then you can dip your fork in the dressing and then the salad.  Divide your plate with your appropriate portion before you begin eating. Always share the dessert.
  10. Measure Cooking Oil: Before pouring directly into your cooking pan or over food, measure oil carefully. Oils, including healthy olive and safflower, have so many calories.
  11. Limit Liquid Calories: It is best to eat your calories other than drinking them. When we drink calories, it does not make us as full. It is better to eat the whole food such as having an orange versus drinking orange juice.  Stay away from empty calories found in soda and other bottled beverages such as iced tea.  Drink water instead.  For flavor, try seltzer water.
  12. Make Your Own Single-Serving Packs: Create portion size bulk food quantities of your favorite foods such as rice, pasta and cereal. Store them in individual zipper bags so you know the recommended portion size and can grab the appropriate amount.

Portion Control Containers And Tools

There are products available to help you measure portion sizes.  From portion control plates to measuring scales, these tools can help you control your portions.  Plates available have actual amounts measured for each of your items including fruits, vegetables, and proteins.  You can visualize what you should eat.

small portions

If you want to be precise on your portion sizes, scales are also available to ensure you are eating the right amount.  Food cards are also available to conveniently take with you to outline nutrition information and recommended portion sizes.

Snack bowls and portion control containers are also available for you to take to work or use for your kids so you can have the right portion as well.

The amount of calories you eat directly affects your weight and overall health.  Choosing a healthy variety of foods is extremely important, and so is looking at the size of the portions you eat.  Eating healthy foods and keeping your portion sizes feasible will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight.  Everything seems to be supersized these days. You are not depriving yourself of food with portion control – you are eating the amount you really should be eating.

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