How Much is One Serving?: Figuring Out Portion Control to Gain Control of Your Waistline
It never fails. When my waistline starts growing in the wrong direction, there are three culprits.
- I’m getting less physical activity.
- I’m eating more junk food and snacking often. (I love to graze!)
- I’m eating mammoth portions of food.
When I lost a significant amount of weight several years ago, the advice I was given from experienced dieters was to learn what a portion size truly was. It was the single most important tool in my weight loss arsenal that made the most difference in how quickly I got back into shape and regained my health.
Two tips to get you started are to (1) buy a food scale and (2) learn to read nutrition labels.
Buy a food scale. It's one of the best tools to learn to visualize portion sizes. Don’t be misled by advice such as a portion of meat is the size of your palm. People have vastly different sized hands!
Learn to read nutrition labels. All packaged items have a nutrition label that states the portion size right at the top. You’ll be surprised at how deceiving a single box of crackers can be. Often there will be two servings in the package. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
What is a portion you ask?
- Vegetables = 1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked, or 1 cup leafy vegetables.
- Fruits = 1 medium piece of fruit, or 1/2 cup chopped or frozen.
- Meat: poultry or fish = 3 - 4 ounces cooked.
- Beans, legumes, and rice = 1/2 cup cooked.
- Dairy: milk and yogurt = 8 ounces.
- Whole grain breads and cereals = 1 standard slice, or 3/4 cup.
- Healthy fats like olive, canola, coconut oil, or butter = 1 tablespoon.
You might find these additional resources helpful.
The American Heart Association list of portion size is a useful resource.
Web MD Portion Sized Plate offers a free wallet-sized download you can take with you.
It’s time for me to get back on track, so I’ll be taking my pocket-sized portion reminder from Web MD with me everywhere I go. After all, shorts and swimsuit season is here, and I intend to enjoy Seattle’s sunny weather!
Kristi Rimkus author of Mother Rimmy's Cooking Light Done Right