Over the years our food habits have changed so drastically it's hard to remember what constitutes a sensible serving size. Adding to the confusion is the overabundance of food choices, and countless competing sources of nutritional and weight loss information that often conflict. Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and the Internet overwhelm and confuse us with often-contradictory reports. But through all of this, one need only remember the basic principle moderation and balance. Here are some simple portion control techniques that will make it easy to do and effective in controlling your weight.
Cut it in Half
You can lose weight and still eat your favorite foods! Just decrease your portion sizes by half. For example, if you are used to eating a whole deli or sub sandwich at lunch, just eat half and supplement your meal with raw veggies on the side and finish off with some fresh fruit. Then wait to see if you're still hungry. If you pause after eating the first half and allow yourself a few minutes to feel satiated, you just may find you're too full to eat the other half anyway.
Ask for a Doggie Bag
Restaurant portions are huge -- nearly twice the size they were 15 years ago. When dining out, ask the waiter for a take away container as soon as he brings the food. Go ahead and put some of your food in the box as soon as it is served. You can always take some back out to eat at the restaurant if you're still hungry, but chances are you won't want to. Heat the leftovers up tomorrow for lunch.
Downsize Your Dinner
Many restaurants offer lunch size portions of their dishes, which are smaller than their full-size dinner entrees. Don't be afraid to ask if you can purchase the lunch size entree at dinner time. Feeling like a kid at heart? Ask to order from the children's menu! If you tell your server that you're dieting, they'll probably allow it. Practicing this portion control pointer will save your waistline some inches and your wallet some bucks.
Just Say No To Supersizing!
Fast food portions are over-sized, so there's no need to add insult to injury by super-sizing. No matter how much of a "better deal" upgrading your meal's size may be, don't be tempted! In fact, steering clear of "meal deals" altogether is very wise. You're much better off ordering a chicken sandwich or burger and a side salad. You could also order a kids meal; kids meals contain what used to be normal sized portions for us grownups.
Good Portions Come in Small Packages.
If you find your will power is overpowered by a full bag of potato chips sitting in the pantry, don't buy the large bags of snack foods. Buy the individual size bags one at a time. If you must buy the large-sized bags of snacks, the best strategy is to divvy out snack foods into single-serving bags as soon as you get them home.
Study Up On Serving Sizes
Just how many mini rice cakes (or your other favorite snacks) are in a serving? Do you even know? Read the label--you may be surprised at how many servings you are actually consuming. Learn what a single portion of your favorite snacks looks like by measuring it out. Then, once you see how much a serving really looks like, you'll be able to "eyeball" it from then on and know.
Bye, Bye Buffet and Farewell, Family-Style
It is nearly impossible to practice portion control in an "all-you-can-eat" situation. If you've ever left a buffet feeling sick, just think about how you felt the next time you're tempted to gorge. At home, fill your plate in the kitchen and bring it to the dining table rather than plopping all the serving bowls on the table to tempt you.
Get Your Portions Down
3 oz. of meat is the size of a deck of cards or an audio tape; 1 oz. of meat is the size of a matchbook; 1 cup of potatoes, rice or pasta looks like a tennis ball. Consider investing in a digital food scale for home use. I weighed a “single” bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts that was 6 ounces—about FOUR bread servings, which is way too many carbs for one meal unless you are an ultra-marathoner or ran on the Arc for about three hours…
Fitness Enthusiast and Guest Blogger