Slide show: Portion control for weight loss
Visual cues for portion control
Size matters. Research has shown that people consistently eat more food when offered larger portions. So portion control is important when you're trying to lose weight and keep it off.
A portion is the amount of food you put on your plate, while a serving is an exact amount of food. To get a better handle on what you're eating, you could carry around measuring cups. Or you could use everyday objects as reminders of appropriate serving sizes, which is what the Mayo Clinic Diet recommends.
Many foods match up to everyday objects. For example, a medium pepper is about the size of a baseball and equals one vegetable serving. While not all foods match visual cues, this method can help you become better at gauging serving sizes and practicing portion control.
One fruit serving is about the size of a tennis ball. For example, a small apple equals one serving, or about 60 calories. The same is true for a medium orange.
One vegetable serving is about the size of a baseball. Half a cup of cooked carrots equals one serving, or about 25 calories. The same is true for a medium tomato or bell pepper.
One carbohydrate serving is about the size of a hockey puck. Half a cup of whole-grain cooked pasta equals one serving, or about 70 calories. If pasta isn't your thing, picture a slice of whole-grain bread instead.
One protein serving is no bigger than a deck of cards. A piece of cooked skinless chicken (2 to 2 1/2 ounces) equals one serving, or about 110 calories. The same goes for a 3-ounce vegetarian burger.
One fat serving is about the size of a pair of dice. For example, 2 teaspoons of regular mayonnaise equal one fat serving, or about 45 calories. Similarly, 2 teaspoons of trans fat-free margarine count as a serving, as does 1 teaspoon of butter.
Putting it all together
It may take practice to become a better judge of serving sizes and portions, especially as you put entire meals together. But the more you practice, the more control you'll have over how much you eat — and that's key to weight loss.
Last Updated Nov 14, 2020