The Skinny on the Basics of Portion Control

downsizing portions can lead to sizing down on your waistline

Over the years our food habits have changed so drastically it’s hard to understand what constitutes a traditional healthy diet and what doesn’t. Adding to the confusion is the overabundance of food choices, countless sources of nutritional and weight loss information competing for our attention and ultimately our money.

Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and the Internet overwhelm and confuse us with often-contradictory reports. But through all of this is the basic principle moderation and balance.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at 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 of 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 Supersize Me!
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 grown ups.

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 lunch size bags or single servings one at a time. And don’t buy the 12-bag variety pack of anything if you think you’ll be easily tempted to finish off the entire box in a sitting. The best solution 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? Check the box and see — you may be surprised at how many servings you are actually consuming. Learn what a controlled portion of your favorite snacks look like by measuring them out the next time you eat them. Then, once you see how much a serving really looks like, you’ll be able to “eyeball” it from then on and know how much is too much.

Buffets Be Gone
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.

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.

Now you are armed with the tools you need to protect yourself from portion distortion. The rest is up to you.

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