Practicing Portion Control

Easy ways to size up healthy servings.
Practice Portion ControlTopic Of the Week

You go out for dinner and order whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and a side of grilled veggies. The pasta is so plentiful that it's falling off the plate. Yes, your meal is nutritious. But can too much of a good thing be not so good? Absolutely.

How super is supersize?
In the era of the supersized meal it's often hard to recognize normal portion sizes. Giant bottles of soda, extra-large bags of chips and king-size candy bars are part of our everyday eating landscape. But unfortuantely, as our portion sizes get larger, so do our waistlines. And bigger packages can also sabotage portion control.

Research from the University of Illinois shows that people may tend to eat more food when it's served in larger containers. When movie-goers were given the same amount of popcorn in containers of two different sizes, the people given the larger tubs ate 44 percent more. The lesson here is to use a smaller plate at dinner!

Sizing things up
To keep portions in perspective, you need tools to help you navigate through bulked-up servings. It's wise to weigh things to get an accurate idea of how big portions should be, but that's not feasible when you're on the go. Relating measurements to common objects and teaching yourself to recognize appropiate serving sizes will be a great step toward achieving your weight-loss goals. For example, you can use your hand to guage healthy portions.

  • Your fist is about the same size as one cup of fruit or pasta

  • Your thumb (tip to base) is the size of one ounce of meat or cheese

  • Your palm (minus fingers) equals three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry

  • Your cupped hand equals one to two ounces of nuts or pretzels

Putting it into action
Once you have serving sizes committed to memory, you'll be ready to fit them into your eating plan.

  • Limit servings of high-fat foods such as fatty meats and fried foods

  • Buy single-servings of some foods, such as 1-ounce bags of chips or 1/2-cup servings of ice cream

  • Remember that servings of most vegetables are extremely low in fat and calories. Bell peppers and button mushrooms just might become your new best buddies!
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