Blissful Belle

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For Good Measure: A Blissful Belle’s Guide To Portion Control


Picture this: You’re on a road trip with your best Belles and you stop at a rest area to get a snack. You have a chocolate bar in one hand and a bag of trail mix in the other. Being super savvy, you look at the nutrition label and see that the calories and fat and sugar of the candy bar is much higher than the little bag of trail mix your holding on to, so you purchase the nut mix.

After finishing the bag, you look again at the label and realize the small bag of mixed nuts contained four servings. So, in approximately five minutes, you consumed way more calories and fat grams than you had expected.

In today’s world, everything is supersized. Portions in restaurants, grocery stores and cafeterias are out of control and do not accurately portray what a true serving size really is. Many people don’t even know what one serving looks like. Thanks to the media and our gluttonous country, obesity is on the rise. Even if you’re not obese, maybe weight management has become difficult for you to balance. Use these tips to either learn the proper portion sizes or get you back on track and start eating correctly again.

Recognize a Real Serving

This is probably one of the hardest things for us to do because we are accustomed to seeing mounds of food piled on our plates. When we see what a true serving of something is we probably think, “That’s it? That won’t fill me up!” When in reality, if you are eating wholesome and nutritious foods, they will satisfy your hunger. Here is a list to help you visualize portions:

  • ½ a bagel—the size of a hockey puck
  • 1 cup of cereal—two hands cupped together
  • 1 piece of fruit—the size of a tennis ball
  • 3 ounces of meat—the size of a deck of cards
  • 1 tbsp of nut butter—a ping pong ball
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit—the size of a golf ball
  • 1 ounce of cheese—your thumb

Use Measuring Cups

This is the easiest way to get back on track and relearn what a true serving size looks like. Keep measuring cups in all your food containers or just keep them nearby for easy access. That way, when you’re starving you can measure a more calculated portion. Stopping and thinking about what you’re going to eat instead of just mindless munching will help you to not overindulge.

Don’t Overfill Measuring Cups

Some people use the measuring cups, but they manipulate the measurements by piling rounded mounds of the food into the cup. Then they wonder why they can’t lose or maintain their weight. To properly measure food, make sure you level off whatever it is you’re measuring so you’re not consuming unnecessary calories.

 Invest In a Food Scale

This is another helpful tool to use in the kitchen or your dorm room. Food scales help measure how much meat you’re eating. A normal serving size of chicken for a moderately active woman is about 3-ounces. If you’re more active, maybe 5 ounces would be more appropriate.

This guideline is different for all types of meat. For example, red meat, like steak or a burger, has a higher caloric and fat content than chicken and the portion size would be less. The leaner the meat, the bigger the serving size. But that doesn’t mean you can gorge on chicken all day. Remember, moderation is key, so get familiar with the proper portion.

Use Smaller Plates

Our food isn’t the only supersized problem. Our actual plates and cups have become exponentially bigger as well. The bigger the plate, the more likely we are to pile it high with food. A normal sized plate that would hold appropriate portions is  a small salad plate. Downsize from your massive dinner plate to this smaller counterpart and you will be eating smaller portions without even realizing it.

 Portion Control at Restaurants

Most restaurants serve massive portions, and since we are usually distracted by the dining experience, we aren’t in tune with our hunger cues. Instead of focusing on the food, we are chatting about our weekends, and usually end up overeating.

Next time you go out, try ordering from the kids menu or see if you can get a half portion. If that’s not an option, have your server bring you a box and pack up half of your dish to bring home before you start eating.

Put it in a Bowl 

Do you eat popcorn/chips/ice cream/cookies/cereal/(insert favorite nighttime snack here) in front of the TV, right from the package? If so, put down the bag or box, get out a bowl, and actually measure a serving size. Mindlessly munching in front of the TV always leads to overeating.

Make To-go Baggies

When you buy something in large quantities, like nuts for instance, take the time to measure out a bunch of servings, and then pack them up in a zip lock baggie. When you’re in a hurry, you can just grab a serving and know exactly how much you’re eating.

Training your mind to know what a real serving size looks like is tricky. It takes practice, patience and most of all, honesty. Be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. Stick to these tips and it will get easier!

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