In a perfect world, we would all practice the healthy diet habit
of portion control
. The problem is, that everywhere we go out of control portions rule. Many foods of today are 2 to 5 times bigger than they should be. We have lost the ability to judge a proper portion by eyeballing it. Giant portions look right to us!
Choosing a kids meal, which is a proper portion, seems laughable to us! Portions can be relearned and are easier to gain control of, than counting calories, which is impossible, especially as portion sizes increase. What can we do to gain control of our runaway portions? These Lifestyle Solutions to control portion distortion are effective:
- Learn proper servings and obey them. A serving is the recommended size, but a portion is how much you actually eat. Your portion should be the correct serving. Check out the USDA guidelines, especially for grains. If you can keep your grains under control, that is half of the battle. A grain serving is 1/2 a cup. Food labels use different servings. The USDA guidelines are correct. Use them!
- Cook the correct amount of servings. If you are cooking pasta for 4 people, cook only 4 pasta servings, divide it up and that is it. Do not cook the entire unit of pasta, and hope for leftovers. A 16 oz bag of pasta cooks 16 grain servings. If you cook that, and divide it between 4, your portion is 4 grain servings.
- Greatly increase your servings of fresh salads and vegetables. If your plate is at least half full of these, you will not be hungry. They are full of fiber and filling. Carbohydrates, and protein should not be the center of the meal. Use the half plate rule.
- Downsize your dishes. Many people use 12 inch plates. Buy a new set of 9 or 10 inch plates for daily use, or use salad plates. Fill your plate, and your brain will be satisfied. If you use bigger plates, you will eat more. A 12 inch plate has almost 50% greater surface area for you to fill with food. You might not even want that much food, but most of you will clean your plate! Eat from the smaller plate, wait 20 minutes, and decide if you are still hungry before you eat that extra amount.
- Use tall skinny glasses and you will drink less.
- Always assume restaurant meals are too big. Either split your meal before you start for take home, or split a meal with a friend.
This picture is a Turkey, Avocado, Tomato & Bacon Sandwich & Salad Lunch Plate from the Cheesecake Factory. The bacon could be eliminated, and this dish could easily be split between two people or half of the sandwich could be taken home for later.
- Associate portion sizes with certain objects for visual reference: A deck of cards or the palm of your hand is a 3 oz meat serving, a CD case is a bread serving, a 1/2 cup of grain is half of a baseball, a 1 cup grain portion is 2 servings, and an entire baseball.
- Find bowls that fit your planned cereal, soup, or ice cream amounts. The small clear glass pudding bowls make great cereal and ice cream bowls. You can’t overfill a small bowl with cereal. It makes a huge mess! Measure out correct portions of the foods you eat and know in your mind, this is my cereal bowl, this is my soup bowl, this is my ice cream bowl, and always use the correct bowl.
- Do not eat seconds! Put extra food away before your meal begins. Store them in individual containers for lunches!
- Serve your family plated meals and do not eat family style!
- Most of us eat over 800 calories of foods that are high sugar and high fat foods per day! End the habit of processed carbohydrates! Allow yourself only 150 to 200 calories per day of a treat type food. A cut back of 600 calories per day in this area would help you to lose 60 pounds this year! See Sweet Substitutions for some ideas!
- It helps to know your food personality when you are planning portion control. If you like volume in your meals, fill up your plate with veggies, and salads. If you are heavy into grains, make an effort to keep your grain to 1/4 of your plate only. If you absolutely need dessert, save your 200 calories of your treat food for your dinner meal. The more you know yourself, the more you can plan for your personality.
- You eat by unit size in packaged goods. Realize that many of the processed foods that you buy are 2 to 3 servings. Most of you eat an entire unit, so it may be easier not to buy certain foods. Many chip bags are 3 or 4 servings. Buy smaller unit bags. You are probably not going to eat half of the bag! Be honest! 100-Calorie Bags of treat foods are awesome, if you absolutely must eat junk foods.
- Spend a good block of time in your kitchen with a sharpie, and mark the servings of foods that you have in your kitchen now. Your bagel might be 5 grain servings or the equivalent of 7 pieces of 45 calorie bread! Is the bagel worth it! Spend the time making these evaluations of portions that you regularly eat. You may see great areas that you can really make some huge differences in. Make some decisions and clean up your purchasing!
Developing great portion control is the most effective healthy diet habit for weight control. As you become mindful of your portions, you can begin to develop some Lifestyle Solutions to correct your areas of overeating! You can’t rely on your eyes to do that. It’s a measuring game! Play the portion control game and win!
Go to Lifestyle Solutions
Return to Portion Distortion
Return from Portion Control to Healthy Diet Habits Home Page