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Five Portion Control Tips and Tricks

By Sheila Collins

The idea of portion control seems simple, but in today’s society we are exposed to some serious portion distortion. According to the National Institutes of Health, food portions in America’s restaurants have doubled or tripled over the last 20 years. So, if you finished your meal, you could be eating more than double the suggested amount. Not only that, but the food labels in our grocery stores lack clear portion sizes. Did you know that one bagel contains two servings? Of course not, because we are trained to think of both halves of a bagel as one portion! Because our restaurants and grocery stores tend to serve oversized and misleading food quantities, it’s more important than ever to learn their serving-size tricks.


How to Take Back Control

The food industry loves to sell you more of its products, so you have to take back control of your diet and love yourself enough to set healthy limits. Whether you’re a beginner at portion control or a seasoned expert, it never hurts to whip out some measuring cups or a scale to measure your food before putting it on your plate. In general, one-third cup of grains and one-fourth cup of cooked vegetables is average. Use this guide for more doctor-recommended portion sizes. Other than measuring, here are some helpful tips to keep your portions right, both at home and on the go:


  • Use a Portion Control Plate
  • When you’re preparing meals at home, use a portion control plate like this one to perfectly measure out your food. Divided into three sections for meat, vegetables and grains, this plate is the simplest way to avoid overeating and get your nutrients at the same time. The three sections can even help as you plan out your meals for the week. Think, what can I make that would fit into this plate? 

  • Take Half Home
  • Healthy portion control doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge when you eat out. It just means that you should be careful not to finish your entire plate every time. Because the majority of restaurants are overserving you, ask for a box at the beginning of your meal so you can take half of it home. That way, you’re not overeating and you have yummy leftovers for the next day. It’s a win-win!

  • Drink Water Before You Eat
  • Drinking a glass of water before your meal can do wonders for not only your portion control, but for your overall wellness. Water helps your skin improve, gives you longer lasting energy and gives you a sense of fullness. This fullness can help you eat less. Also, it doesn’t hurt that a glass of water is a calorie-free alternative to the average 150-calorie soda.

  • Snack Smart  
  • Even if your meals fit in the portion control plate, don’t overlook your snacks. Avoid snacking straight from the bag and turn off the TV as you eat. Try prepping your snacks beforehand by measuring them out and putting them in separate containers. This way, you’re not mindlessly reaching for more and more handfuls. 

  • Don’t Skip Meals
  • No matter what the latest diet fads tells you to do, skipping meals is unhealthy and can lead to weight gain rather than weight loss. When you decide to skip a meal, your body becomes hungrier and craves food more. So, the next time you do eat, you will probably overindulge and end up eating far more than an ideal portion size. Instead of skipping meals altogether, eat smaller portions to curb that hunger and prevent overeating. 


    This content is provided for your information only, and should not be relied on as medical advice; you should always consult your own physician before making changes to your own health or treatment plans.