Foodie Friday:Portion Control

We made it to Friday!

I thought I’d wrap up the work week tackling a food-related topic I get lots of questions about: portion control.

For better or worse, anyone who lives in the USA knows all too well that we live in a super-sized society. When an extra quarter gets you an extra-large side of fries or a cookie, it can be tough to make smart decisions. So learning how to keep track of portions at home can help when you’re not protected by the safety of your own kitchen.

As I remind everyone before I launch into my diet-related tips, I’m not a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Therefore, these tips are simply examples of the options that work for me and my lifestyle.

  1. Scale down, divide and conquer: Use a smaller plate (like a salad dish) for your meal. Make sure that meal includes raw or steamed veggies or salad and fill half your plate with that. Use the remaining space for your lean protein and starch – preferably some sort of whole grain. If you can’t stomach the idea of using a smaller plate, stick with the half-plate veggie and remaining quarters for protein and starch.
  2. Prep once or twice, eat all week! I am not a cook, let alone a chef. But for anyone who knows his or her way around the kitchen, go ahead and prepare things in bulk, then freeze portion sizes in reusable containers for lunches and dinners that last all week. Click here for a reminder on how non-cooks like me prep other items for a week’s worth of healthy snacks.
  3. Sizing Things Up: This is often the trickiest part of portion control. When you’re home, until you can eyeball what’s a portion size, I strongly encourage using measuring cups and even a food scale for accurate serving sizes. When you’re not home, here are some of the tricks I learned through Weight Watchers. (I have been a lifetime member since November 2010). All you need is your hand!
  • Fist = 1 cup
  • Thumb (tip to base) = 1 oz meat or cheese
  • Palm (without your fingers) = 3 oz lean protein
  • Fingertip = 1 tsp
  • Thumb tip  = 1 tbsp
  • Cupped hand = 1 to 2 oz of crunchy snacks e.g. almonds / pretzels

I leave you with two final tips that have more to do with common sense than accurate measurements.

  1. Know when to stop eating! I’m lucky to have grown up in a household where I was encouraged to stop eating when I felt full.  The trick is to put down that fork before you’re so uncomfortable you’re looking for your first opportunity to get into those sweats.
  2. Have that cupcake! No, that wasn’t a typo. Whatever your favorite treat is, I guarantee denying yourself the pleasure of indulging in a serving now and then will only make you crave it even more. Trying to satisfy the craving with a substitutes can be  another recipe for disaster. Why? Think about it. Instead of having one slice of cookies-and-cream cheesecake, you opt for the low-fat cookies, end up eating the whole bag…and you STILL want the cheesecake!  Treating yourself once in a while can help prevent a serious caloric meltdown later. Want a great way to indulge without all the guilt? Split dessert with a friend!

With a little know-how and patience, developing healthy eating habits to compliment your exercise routine is the best way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

About LauraLovesFitness

After spending more than 10 years in the communications industry, this lifetime fitness lover and newly certified fitness professional wants to share my passion for health and well-being with others.

Posted on October 26, 2012, in Health, Nutrition and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the tips you are right we should know when to stop eating

    • Thanks, Nana! Yes, we all need to learn how to listen to our bodies a little better – in regards to when to stop eating, when to take a break from working out and when to step things up a bit! Have a great weekend!

  2. all amazing ideas for watching your waistline! there are a few tricks of my own i have learned having suffered from my own mishigas with foodl. NEVER eat while watching tv or reading or anything else. you are suppose to eat at a table with no distractions to be in touch with the way you feel while you are eating. (very buddhist like, but it helps) eating smaller meals more often (every 2-3 hours) and making sure to get the proper amount of protien(which keeps you fuller longer) is a huge help. make sure to eat within an hour of waking to get the metabolism moving and within 30-45 minutes after exercise to replenish! AND A BIGGIE…NEVER, EVER EAT ON THE GO! hope these tip can help someone in any battle they have with overeating, undereating, obesity, or simply just trying to eat healthy! xoxo

    • Hello Amy,
      Great to hear from you! These are fantastic tips – I may have to “steal” them and incorporate them into a follow up post. The only thing I allow myself to eat while watching TV is the Weight Watchers “approved” microwave popcorn. Otherwise, you are right, you just much or chew away mindlessly without thinking about what you’re putting into your body. And I am also a big follower of the eat-every-few-hours rule. Keeps the metabolism moving and the blood sugar level. Thanks again! Hope you have a GREAT weekend! xo

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  4. I am the worst when it comes to portion control during dinner and probably eat as much in that meal (and dessert) as I do all day. I do try to load my plate with half veggies, but I always crave something crunchy, sweet, or both after dinner. I may have to just serve fruits along with my meal (apple or pear slices) to curb my crunchy/sweet cravings. It seems I try to experiment with my tastes but I haven’t found out what truly works to ensure I stick within a reasonable portion amount at dinner time. I haven’t gained weight from this because I exercise and try to keep the bulk of my meals low fat or low calorie. But I would prefer to not feel the urge to eat another meal’s worth of food after dinner. I do like your Weight Watcher’s portion control tips, very helpful! 🙂

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Great to hear from you! I completely understand about the struggle to find a truly satisfying dinner. I often find myself in a food rut. Have you tried adding some shaved almonds as veggie toppers? They may add the crunch you’re looking for, and of course, I love almonds because they have all those antioxidants, too! I also always have a box of Skinny Cow fudge bars in my freezer. They’re my non-guilty “indulgence” after dinner that actually satisfy my sweet tooth – and I CAN stop after having one. Let me know how it goes…and have a great weekend!

  5. Thanks so much for this post. This is something I definitely struggle with. I was raised in a household to LOVE food and portion control was NOT something we practiced and as a result I am surrounded by obesity among my family members. I need to make portion control a lifestyle because I can do it when I feel myself getting a “little fat” and then once I get to a place I am satisfied I got back to old patterns. I am hoping that now I am cognizant of the pattern I can change behavior! Baby steps… Packing lunches and eating only what is there is the first one. I also think I will start weight watchers. I know many people who have been successful!

    • Hi Jovan, I’m so happy you found this post helpful! Seriously, making small changes can go a long way. The biggest thing is being patient with yourself so that you give your body and your mind time to develop a habit – that’s a six-week process. I am a big advocate of a program like Weight Watchers as I believe it is the closest thing to reality that’s out there. I’m not going to carry pre-packaged meals with me. I also LOVE going to dinner with friends and family to celebrate fun times or just catch up, so to me, it’s learning how to make adjustments to your lifestyle that you can truly live with. Let me know how it goes. See ya at class soon! Thanks so much for supporting my blog! 🙂

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