Eating Less: Portion Control
Once you understand what a serving size looks like, you'll find it easier to control food portions
JUST WHAT IS A "SERVING SIZE"?
You can eat more than you think and still lose weight. Just choose carefully! For example, does this sound like a filling meal?
- A 3-oz portion (about the size of a deck of playing cards) of meat (like chicken) with seasonings
- A salad (with 2 cups of lettuce, some cucumber and tomato, and 2 tablespoons of light salad dressing)
- One 1/2 cup each of 3 vegetables
- Some fruit for dessert
A meal like this has fewer calories than you might think (about 500 to 600).
SMALLER PORTIONS CAN HELP YOU CUT CALORIES
Portion sizes in America have been getting bigger. If you serve yourself or are served a big portion, you may eat more than you need to, even if you already feel full. In fact, when offered large portions, people tend to eat larger amounts before feeling full than they would if given smaller portions. Serving yourself smaller portions can be an easy way to eat less and lose weight!
HOW CAN I MAKE SURE I AM EATING THE RIGHT PORTION SIZE?
It is important to understand portion size. When you’re planning a meal, remember:
- A serving of meat, fish, or poultry should be about 3 oz. This is about the size of your palm
- A serving of milk, yogurt, or fresh vegetables should be 1 cup. That’s about the size of a tennis ball
- A serving of cheese is 1 oz, or about the size of your thumb
- One slice of bread, 1/3 cup of rice or cooked pasta, or 3/4 cup of dry cereal is one serving
Here’s a handy tip: each plate should be half fruits and vegetables.
When you first start accustoming yourself to portions, use measuring cups and spoons to determine what an actual portion looks like. This will help you tell a single portion of breakfast cereal from a triple portion! Also available are plates and bowls with portion sizes marked on them.You don’t need these tools, but many people find them helpful to lose weight.
Some other tips you could try for eating smaller portions include:
- At a restaurant, order a kid’s meal or a light appetizer
- Divide your meal in half and save some for later
- Put a smaller portion on your plate
At first, the "right" portion may look small. Our views of portions have been distorted by the extra large portions in restaurants! With practice, you will get better at “eyeballing” appropriate portions.