Losing Weight: 5 Tips on Portion Size

This is the first in a series about lifestyle changes that lead to a lighter and healthier you.

The weight loss secret that’s often overlooked: It’s about the portion size!

1) Watch Your Portion Size

Losing weight is a matter of eating less and moving more. Calories in minus calories burned determine your weight.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Wait, not so fast!

Weight loss also has to do with the types of foods you eat and when. More importantly if you want to keep the weight off, you need to make permanent lifestyle changes or it will just creep back on. Here are some small changes you can make which can  add up to big results, a lighter and healthier you.

2) Give up the Supersize, and it’s ALL Supersized!

Watch your portions.  It bears repeating: Portions do matter. Even healthy foods contain calories. Our brains have been hijacked by photos, commercials of skinny women holding super-sized cereal bowls, and monster size portions at restaurants.  This means many of us need to retrain the brain to recognize the correct portion size.

3)  Re-Learn to Measure by Eye

Try this trick at breakfast:  Pour yourself what you think is a serving size of cereal.  Let’s say the nutrition label says a serving size is 2/3rd cup.    Then, in another bowl, measure the actual 2/3rd cup serving. Chances are you poured two to three times the serving size in the first bowl.  This means that without realizing it, you may have been eating two to three times more cereal than you should. No wonder the pounds are not coming off even though you increased your activity level!

Try this at lunch and dinner: Replace your large dinner plates with smaller salad size plates.   Your brain will register that you have a full plate, even when smaller servings fill it up. If you fill up a big plate, your brain will signal you to finish what’s on your plate before you stop eating.  When you have a smaller plate, your brain will register that you’re satisfied when you finish, even with the smaller portion.  This is because the brain sees the full serving on the smaller plate the same as a full serving on the large plate.  Again, measure until you know exactly what a serving size looks like.

4) Quick Ways to Measure Portion Sizes

Here are some quick measurement guidelines.

  • Your fist equals about 1 cup
  • The palm of your hand is about the size of a 3 to 4 oz serving of chicken, fish or meat
  • Your thumb equals about 1 oz (cheese)
  • A tennis ball is about a half cup of fruit or vegetables
  • Your thumb tip is about 1tsp
  • A small handful of nuts is about 1 oz (20 almonds)

An easy way to keep portions from creeping up: Serve yourself from the stove.  Avoid bringing serving bowls to the table.  It is too easy to keep having additional servings. If you have to get up from the table to get a serving, you will be less likely to overeat.

5) Tips When Dining Out

We all know when we go out to eat, the portions sizes are at least twice what we need to be eating. Try ordering a salad (dressing on the side) and appetizer instead of an entree.  Or, ask to have half your entree wrapped up to take home before they serve it. Consider splitting an entree with someone.

Enjoy What You Eat

Remember eating is supposed to be enjoyable.  Eat slowly.  It takes time for the brain to signal the stomach that it’s full. Enjoy your food.