5 Simple Tips to Control Portion Sizes

Container of properly proportioned food.

Understanding portion sizes is key to maintaining a healthy weight. But unfortunately, determining how much is too much has become more difficult than ever. That’s because restaurant portions, fast-food servings, and even the size of the standard dinner plate have increased over the past several decades. This surge in portion sizes could be a contributing factor to the escalating rates of obesity witnessed over the past 50 years.

Mastering the art of portion sizes can be instrumental in achieving your weight loss goals. Thankfully, there are several tips and tricks to assist you in accurately gauging portion sizes, whether you’re dining at home or eating out. However, it is essential to first understand the serving size for each specific type of food.

What Is a Serving Size?

Nutrition labels list the suggested serving size of each food item. The issue for some people is that they don’t measure out a portion size to see how much a single serving really is. Neglecting to do so causes you to consume excess calories

When you have a visual cue, it’s easier to imagine the portion size on your plate. Use these common visual aids when gauging your portion sizes:

  • A deck of cards is equivalent to a three-ounce serving of meat or poultry
  • A checkbook is about the same as a three-ounce portion of fish
  • A serving of fruit is about the size of a baseball
  • A golf ball is roughly equivalent to two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • A cheese portion equals about two dice or the tip of your thumb
  • One pancake should be about the size of a DVD
  • A potato serving is the same size as a computer mouse

You may find it helpful to do your own measuring or develop your own visual cues to help you exercise portion control. You may also want to consult with your weight loss doctor to develop these cues, as your personal dietary needs will be unique to you.

5 Tips for Balancing Food Quantities

One of the easiest ways to reduce the portions you consume is to eat with smaller utensils on smaller plates. When you use a small plate and fill it, your mind will see a full plate and register that you are receiving the “right” portion. Here are a few additional tips to help you adjust to healthier portions:

  • When eating out, ask for a to-go box and take half your meal home
  • Try to order proteins like meat and fish, or plant-based proteins like tofu over carbohydrates like pasta, rice, and potatoes
  • When eating out, ask to hold the starch and double up on the veggies
  • When plating your food, make ½ the plate veggies and salad. The other ½ split into 2/3 protein and 1/3 carbs. The starchy carbs should be the smallest item on your plate.
  • Limit eating out to no more than once per week and try to cook more healthy meals at home

Reducing Portions to Support Weight Loss

Above all, be mindful of your body’s signals and stop eating when you feel full. Many of us have been taught to finish everything on our plates, which is good advice when portions are reasonable. However, larger portion sizes can lead to consuming hundreds of extra calories each day. 

Controlling portion sizes is a crucial habit with remarkable long-term weight loss results. Keep in mind that dedicated meal times provide a better opportunity for portion mindfulness compared to distractions at work or in the car. Enhance digestion by chewing slowly and truly savoring your food while embracing portions that align with your needs. Once you master the art of portion sizes, you can harness their potential to achieve your weight loss goals.

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