Weight Loss & Portion Control
One of the biggest obstacles to weight loss is learning to recognize an appropriate serving size. Our perception of a serving has become distorted by oversized restaurant portions and snack food packaging that appears to be a single serving but in reality is two to three servings. The following is a guide to proper portion sizes for common foods, as well as tips and tricks you can use to keep serving sizes in check.
Determining Serving Sizes
You don’t have to resort to the hassle of scales and measuring utensils to get a close approximation of a proper portion size. A simple way to determine a single serving is to compare the serving size to everyday objects. For example:
• A serving of pasta is roughly the size of a single scoop of ice cream.
• A single portion of vegetables is approximately the size of your fist.
• A protein serving, such as fish, meat, or poultry, should be about the size of your palm.
• One serving of steamed rice is about the size of a cupcake wrapper.
• Pancakes should be the size of a CD, not a dinner plate.
• Bagels should be roughly the size of a hockey puck.
• A serving of apple is the size of a baseball.
• A potato the size of a computer mouse equals one serving.
• A cupped handful of chips or pretzels is approximately one serving.
Maintaining Portion Sizes at Home
The best way to limit portions is to use a smaller plate. When we use large plates, our brain and eyes naturally want to fill up all of the empty space, which leads to overeating. Store foods in portioned controlled containers, and freeze what you won’t be able to eat immediately. This will prevent you from feeling like you have to eat more to keep from wasting food. You should also never eat from a bag or carton. If you are unable to purchase pre-portioned single servings, immediately portion out appropriate servings into individual baggies.
Controlling Portions at Restaurants
Most restaurant meals contain two to three servings. The best way to ward off temptation is to ask for a smaller or half-sized portion at the outset. If the restaurant cannot accommodate this request, ask your server to bring a to-go box along with your order, and box up half of the food before you start eating. You will be less likely to overeat if the food is out of sight.