Portions out of control? Learn 7 tips for healthier portion sizes for weight loss

  • 2 Minutes Read

Avoid portion distortion by learning to apply correct portion sizes for weight loss. Yes, everything has been super-sized out there. Fight back and use some of these easy tips for trimming the portions and calories.

Portion sizes for weight loss

Where are the right portion sizes for weight loss anymore?

Portion sizes have grown right along with our waistlines! Did you know that 20 years ago, a bagel was 3 inches in diameter and 140 calories? A bagel today is 6 inches in diameter and has 350 calories, more than double the calories! A bottle of soda used to be 6.5 ounces and 85 calories. Now, a 20-ounce soda has 250 calories! Triple the calories! Yes, being surrounded by large portions can set us up for over-consuming calories. What to do? Portion-size awareness and portion-control strategies can help a lot!

How to downsize your portions and prevent portion distortion

1. Downsize plates, bowls, and glasses

We think servings are larger when the container is smaller, just like we believe servings are smaller when the container is large. Do yourself a favor by using a smaller salad plate or saucer, a mini bowl, and smaller glasses. It is amazing how this helps! I love finding small-sized dishes and glasses. Antique marts are great for these finds. Save the big plates for salads and big glasses for water.

2. Track your food and drink using MyNetDiary

Track everything that passes your lips. Studies show that the greater number of days per week you track your food and beverage intake, the greater the weight loss. Keep tracking!

3. Get out the measuring cups, spoons, and weight scale.

Since we typically underestimate our portions, weighing and measuring your portions can be a real eye-opener. You will find yourself quickly downsizing your portions and figuring out the amounts that fit into specific containers. Soon you will see how your favorite bowl holds one cup of pasta or that cute little bowl is perfect for one-half cup of ice cream rather than the big bowl that holds 3 cups.

4. Pre-record your meal, and don't go back for seconds

Record the amount of food and drink that fits into your calorie budget before eating and then stick with it. It becomes a template for your meal in advance.

5. Always portion out your snacks

Never mindlessly eat snacks out of bags and boxes, because you'll never know how much you've consumed. Instead, look at the serving size on the container and portion it out into a bowl or plate. Also, seek out smaller fruits, like apples, oranges, and bananas, because even fresh fruits have gotten bigger. Some giant apples equal 5 fruit servings! You can find potatoes the size of your head these days. Avocados come in several sizes, so what is a real serving? Set out on a quest to seek out smaller portions to save an enormous amount of calories.

6. Split portions at restaurants

Restaurant servings can be so large that a single meal can add up to an entire day's calorie budget! Don't be fooled by restaurant salads, which often load up extra calories. Face it, as consumers, we want to get our money's worth when dining out. We have created a monster because restaurants certainly stepped up to bat to satisfy us. The result means serious trouble for the waistline. If you eat out often, the portions begin to look normal to you, and suddenly you are a victim of portion distortion.

What to do? You can split an entree with someone. You can also cut everything in half and take one half with you for another meal. This can be a calorie saver and also save you some money. Plus, you now have your lunch ready for tomorrow! Splitting portion sizes for weight loss is one of the easiest ways to stay on track and enjoy eating out.

7. Slow down and enjoy the food

It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you are full. Not sure about you, but I can eat a lot of food in 20 minutes. If you are a fast eater, try setting a timer for 20 minutes, and see if you can make your meal last that long. Slow it down and savor each mouthful. Put your fork down between bites or use chopsticks to slow down the pace. It also helps to avoid starting the meal out ravenous. Being super hungry sets you up for overeating.

Additional reading on portion control

Measuring and estimating portion sizes
Top recommended tips for portion control by dietitians
Yes, large portions do cause overeating

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Sep 11, 2020
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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