Portion Control

One of the common things I’ve noticed people wanting to know is about portion size. I’m not a stickler about portion sizes. I “eyeball” a lot of things. Especially since counting and measuring food just makes eating stressful when it should be enjoyable. I’m already stressed enough with everyday life, I don’t need to be stressed about if whether I have a cup of rice on my plate or if it’s more.

Photo by Edward Guk on Unsplash

However – being mindful of your portions is beneficial. It’s something I had to learn. Especially when you plates seem to keep getting larger, small size cups seemed to have doubled in size over night. (Don’t get me started on the small 8 ounce clear cup they give you at pay-before-you-eat places for water, but if you get a soda, it starts at 20 ounces.) Different restaurants and especially fast food venues give you more than is needed.

I was shocked one day when I drove through somewhere while I was running errands to grab a medium iced tea, thinking it would be 16-20 oz., and it came out and was 32 oz. It reminded me of a Parks and Recreation episode. There was a 512 oz. soda called “Child Size”. “Well, it’s is roughly the size of a 2 year old child, if the child was liquefied.” I mean, for real! But because of this, and the reasons I mentioned before, most people don’t know how to gauge what a normal portion would be just by “eyeballing” it. Let’s first talk about the benefits of portion control.

How It’s Beneficial
Weight Loss

I know for me, this was one of my biggest changes and the best thing that helped me to loose weight and continue to do so. Of course eating the right foods is definitely the top thing, knowing how much to eat is the next. Once you start seeing how much should be enough, portion control really isn’t the headache it seems to be. And you won’t be hungry all the time if you’re eating the right foods. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

If you don’t like working overtime without any compensation, why make your body do it? If it’s overloaded and overworked, then you can have some serious issues because it can’t keep up. Stomach pains, cramping, weight gain, unhealthy blood sugar levels, etc. Give your digestive system what it needs in decent amounts throughout the day so that it can handle it.

Stops Over Eating

Once you start to eat the right amount of portions, you stomach will be satisfied sooner and will be used to lighter meals and knowing it’s not starving if you don’t weigh it down. You’ll get fuller faster. If your stomach is the appropriate size then you will have less of a chance of overeating. It will start to feel uncomfortable.

How to Measure without Going Crazy

If measuring seems like it’s going to stress you out like it does with me, do what I do and I use my hand to measure. Once I know how much my serving will be I use my hand to roughly guess. If you have never used the hand method, check out this article ab out it on Runtastic.com. It’s a great first step if you don’t want to count calories but know you need to watch what you eat.

Tips on Portion Control
Average Measurements to Keep in Mind for 1 Serving
  • 1-2 Tablespoons for any fattening spread – butter, nut butters, avocado, etc.
  • 2 Tablespoons for any dried fruit
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/4 cup (roughly) for raw nuts
  • 1/2 cup for whole grains – rice, cereals, pasta, oats, etc.
  • 1/2 cup for fresh fruits, or 1 small piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup for beans, legumes, etc.
  • 1 cup for vegetables
  • 2 cups for raw leafy greens
  • 3 oz of meat – red meat, chicken, or fish (palm of your hand)
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1 oz of cheese (about 1 domino size)

It all depends on your diet and goals, but this will at least show how much 1 serving is no matter the diet you might be on.

For example, for breakfast you might have:

  • 1 slice of whole grain toast with 1 tbsp of unsalted butter
    • 1 serving of grains, and 1 serving of fat
  • 1 small apple
    • 1 serving of fruit
  • 1 boiled egg
    • 1 serving of protein

Nutritional Information: 

365 calories | 18 g total fat | 2 g polyunsaturated fat | 5 g monounsaturated fat | 9 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 217 mg cholesterol | 221 mg sodium | 39 g carbohydrates | 7 g fiber | 19 g sugar | 12 g protein

Use Smaller Plates and Bowls

One thing I started doing was using smaller dishes. Even if you go back for seconds, it’s still better. It can give you a reason to wait a few minutes before getting more and giving your stomach some time to respond to what you just ate. So if you are not all about the measuring or eyeballing and wanting to just listen to whether your stomach is satisfied or not, start with this. Wait 10 minutes after finishing your food before going back for another plate.

Photo by James Harris on Unsplash
Eat Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber keeps you fuller longer and also helps with digestion and blood sugar. So when you are sitting down for a meal, see how many vegetables, whole grains, or beans you have on your plate. Usually dinner is my heaviest meal. Breakfast and lunch are lighter or quickly digestible foods because I don’t stop moving until after dinner. Keeping things lighter helps to keep me from being sluggish because my digestive system doesn’t have to take a “time out” to digest what I just gave it. Since dinner is heavier I usually try to have a salad with it. If I’m starving when I get home from having light meals earlier, I go ahead and eat my side salad while I’m cooking dinner. It holds off the hunger and when my heavier, richer foods come I don’t over indulge, and eating slower isn’t a problem.

Bottom Line
  1. Be mindful.
    • I’ll be saying this a lot with my posts. Your body will thank you! When you keep your portions in mind, then splurging on some queso on girls night out won’t completely wreck what you’ve been working towards all week and your body will be equipped to deal with it.
  2. Don’t make it stressful.
    • Do what works for you. The first week or two of keeping it in mind might seem a little much since it will be an added step to your routine and something else you have to think about. But afterwards it will start to become second nature and not a burden at all.
  3. Depends on your goals.
    • Serving sizes and how many servings to have a day might differ from person to person, but knowing what a portion size actually looks like will help keep your goals on track.



Author: Amanda Arroyo

My name is Amanda Arroyo. I am a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, certified by AFPA. I am here for you to be your support, accountability and guide to help you find your own personal healthy, or how I like to say you own "Different Beet".

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