Lists: Methods and Tips for Portion Control

Portion ControlPortion Control

Ways to control you portion size

Proper food portions

Proper food portions

Weight loss is not an easy task.  Most dieters have no idea of what a portion size is and how to moderate the intake of various foods they eat in a given day.  When we sit down to eat, the last thing any of us want to do is think about limiting our portion size.  No matter whether you are overweight or type 2 diabetes, to lose weight and control you intake, you need to gauge portion sizes better to limit your calories.  It is even more complicated for a person with diabetes because they must no only limit calories but also the number they obtain from carbohydrates.  The proper portion size on a plate is filled with 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 meat or protein, and 1/4 starches (see the plate to the right).  If you have not already read my article on portion control, you know that portion control is research proven to assist in weight loss.  

We have been indoctrinated to overeat through years of brainwashing.  Our grandmothers started this process by making sure we cleaned our plates.  They gave us a present in the form of dessert if we complied with this request.  This bribe has resulted in us developing an inadequate understanding portions and an inability to stop at one serving.   How could we ever disappoint grandma?  

To be successful at weight loss, you must burn more calories than you consume.  Today, controlling portion sizes is becoming increasingly difficult because portions serves are becoming larger and larger.  Large portions start with plates size increasing which allows for you to fill them with bigger portions.  The average portion size has increased by over 200% in most foods, and some are as high as 700% larger.  The bottom line is you must practice proper portion control.  Learning the correct portion size and limiting your intake to that amount is tough.  Humans are inaccurate at estimating portion sizes.  

Portion Control Tips:

  1. Know the correct food groups.  If you think that corn, potatoes, or sweet potatoes are a vegetable, you need to brush up on your food groups.  You can’t get the correct portion size if you do not know the food group.  One fundamental concept is corn and rice are grains and potatoes, and sweet potatoes are starches.  
US Food Pyramid

US Food Pyramid: Click to see a larger image


Common Portion Sizes

Common Portion Sizes: This is a chart from Mindful Eats

  1. Learn proper portion sizes.  If you have no idea what a proper portion size is, you will fail at weight loss.  A portion size is the size dieticians and the guidelines from the US Department of Department of Agriculture have established as a healthy size.  Once you know proper portion sizes of the foods, it will make it easier to figure out how much to eat with each setting or each day.  You will have to look them up for a few weeks and then you will memorize them.
Food Portion Sizes

Food Portion Sizes: Slick to see a larger image.

  1. Understand the food labels.  Food labels are confusing despite more and more government mandates to make them simpler.  For example, potato chips and snacks like popcorn continually make sales pitches claiming to give you 30% more in a package.  The problem is that a serving size does not change so 30% more is like just 30% more above what was already much more than the proper serving size.  The key concept to this is just simple math.  For example, the bag says that there are three serving in the bag with 140 calories a serving.  If you eat the whole bag, you will eat approximately 420 calories.    
  2. Count them out.  Count out the serving for everything.  If you are eating almonds, weight it and count it.  If “x” number pretzels or almonds make a serving, count them out and bag individual servings.  Research has proven that if you measure your serving and pre-bag them that you will eat less.  Dividing and bagging is self-manufacturing single serving packs.  
  3. Estimate when Dining Out.  Dining out is not time out.  If you take the time to eat at a restaurant, it is not a free for all.  I usually recommend that you divide your portions in half and take one-half of the plate home.  
  4. Measure twice and eat once.  I always confirm my count or measurement so that I get it right.  Like with carpentry where they say measure boards twice and cut them once, the same is true with measuring portions of food.   
  5. Eat your vegetables first.  Eat a cup of vegetables before you eat your starches.   You will fin that this fills you up and keeps you full longer.   
  6. Do not strap on the feed bag.  If you eat a snack such as chips or popcorn, the worse thing you can do is to eat directly from the chip or popcorn bag.  Carefully measure out a serving and divide our the servings into separate bags.  Mindless eating in front of the TV will not result in a single serving.  
  7. Don’t Forget Lunch.  I recommend that you bring your lunch every day.  I carry it with me every day.  

Ways to Estimate or Measure a Portion Size:  

  1.  Estimate portion sizes.  There are many examples of methods to estimate portion sizes.  One is one of the most efficient methods to estimate portions when you eat out.  This si also the cheapest way to figure out what a portion size is.  
Serving Size of Common Foods

Serving Size of Common Foods: Click for a larger image.


  1. Use your hand as a guide.  Almost everyone has a hand to use as measuring stick for portion sizes, and it does not cost you anything.


Charts of Hand Portion Control Guide

Charts of Hand Portion Control Guide: Chick for a larger image.

  1. Use a portion control dinnerware such as bowls, glasses, or plates.  These nifty tools will help you estimate a good portion size.  Below are some examples from Amazon.  I have used these, and they are helpful at setting healthy portion lifestyles.  I have added some links to Amazon to see a few of these products.  Click on the image to see larger images and to purchase the products.  

  1. Measure you portions with a scale.  A scale is the primary methods I use.  It is a very successful way to make sure your estimates are accurate.  I do this whenever I am at home.  A good food scale is an investment in your health.  I have added links of the scale I recommend below.  The one on the right is one I primarily use.  Click on the image to see larger images and to purchase the products.  

  1. Use portion containers.  These come in all sorts and sizes.  The point about these containers is that they force you to keep a certain volume.  Once you learn what size they are you can use the knowledge you have to use other containers.  I have five sets and use one set for each dinner meal for the work week.    Below are some links to illustrate various options available out there.  Click on the image to see larger images and to purchase the products.  

  1.  Mug or cup desert.  If I make a dessert, I divide it into cups or mugs so that I limit my portion size.  I have added some links to Amazon to see a few of these products.  Click on the image to see larger images and to purchase the products.  

  1. One last recommendation is Jokari.  I am nearly certain you have never hear of this one.  Jokari is manufactourer of products that help limit your intake of food.  They come in various sizes and shapes to measure cheese, dressing, meat, nuts, oil, pasta, and vegetables.  They are fantastic and one of the primary reasons I have lost 30 pounds in 6 months and 50 pounds in a year.  I have added some links to Amazon to see a few of these products.  Click on the image to see larger images and to purchase the products.  

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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