Tricks to Portion Control and Better Choices

When searching for healthy eating tips, the phrase “portion control” pops up time and again. Simply put, controlling your portions means sticking to a set amount (portion) of food in one sitting. The right amount depends on your calorie and nutrient needs. And, of course, what actually fills you up. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat healthier, it’s important to have a good idea of what a healthy portion looks like.


“Portion is different than serving size,” Caroline Kaufman, R.D., tells SELF. “The serving size is a measured amount of food or drink (what you see on a nutrition label) and your portion is the amount you actually consume,” she explains.

For example, one serving of granola may be listed as a quarter cup, but if you have two servings, your portion is a half cup. Oftentimes, the right portion size is one serving, but that’s not always true.

Your Plate Should Be 50/25/25

The best way to eyeball healthy portions? Fill your plate or bowl with 50 percent veggies or salad, 25 percent lean protein, and 25 percent starchy vegetables. This helps you control portions.

Fill the plate with fresher choices. Eat more foods from the farm not the grocery shelves. Foods from the farm will expire within a week. Get rid of the items that have a shelf life of over 14 days.

Eat Off Smaller Plates

Use salad plates and small bowls instead of dinner plates and large soup bowls. Why? The perception is you’re eating more than you are. We eat with our eyes and nose first. A salad plate that’s piled high with food looks and seems more filling than a scantily topped large dinner plate.

Most restaurants serve enough for two people. Before you go in make the decision to share the plate with someone. You save money and calories. If you are by yourself ask for a to-go box right away and pull out half to take with you. That way you can determine the correct portions before you dig in. It’s much harder to stop eating when there’s still delicious, cooked food on your plate.

Stop Eating Straight From the Bag

Portion out a certain amount of food using the serving size on the container as your guide.

When you’re taking snacks on the go, portion them into Ziploc bags or small containers. Purchase food already in serving sizes like a cheese stick or single-serve yogurt or 100 calorie bag of nuts.

To Buffet or Not to Buffet

Buffets seem like a great deal with lots of choices. The problem is you forget everything you’ve been taught about healthy portion sizes and eating with your stomach not your eyes when you have endless options and feel like you should get your money’s worth.

Choose not to go to buffets, but if you find yourself there because someone else made the suggestion survey all the options on the buffet before digging in. If you remember the top two recommendations above you will be fine. Avoid the temptation to go back for seconds.

Be More Mindful When You Eat

Turn off your phone or put it away and sit quietly, enjoy the company of others and the food.

Eating when you’re distracted pretty much guarantees you’ll overeat. If you don’t pay attention to what you’re putting into your mouth, it’s tough to recognize when you’re full. Avoid eating in front of a screen. That means your TV, laptop and your phone.

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