We live in a super size society, often believing that more is better. We love “all-you-can eat” buffets and the idea of getting more for our money. Unfortunately, our waistlines have suffered as a result. Although portion sizes are now listed on most of the foods we buy, few of us measure our food before we eat it. Because portion control is one of the keys to weight loss, it’s important to understand in practical terms what normal portion sizes look like.
Portion Control Plates
To help people understand what normal portion sizes should look like, many companies are developing portion control plates. These plates often have portion sizes printed on them, along with recommendations like half a plate of fruits and vegetables, a quarter plate of whole grains, and a quarter plate of lean protein. Some of the names for these plates include Diet Plate, EZ Weight Plate and Portion Doctor. You can choose one of these or from numerous others on the market.
One easy way to eat less is to simply put your food on a smaller plate. Often, you can trick your brain into thinking you are getting more food than you really are because the same amount of food looks like much more on a smaller plate. Just be careful not to stack your food up on either your smaller plate or your portion control plate, as that would defeat the purpose of eating less.
Some portion control plates offer additional weight loss advice, like eliminating sugary drinks, reducing your fat intake, eating low-fat foods, asking for salad dressing on the side, skipping breads and desserts, avoiding buffets, and exercising daily. They also recommend that you wait 20 minutes after eating to determine if you are full.
If you want to save some money, you can make your own portion control plate. To do so, you need to get an idea of what constitutes a serving. For example, one serving of a potato is about the same size as a computer mouse. A ear of corn should be about the same length as a pencil. One cup of salad or vegetables is approximately the same size as a baseball. Other baseball-size servings include 1 cup of flaked cereal, 1 cup of cooked pasta, 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of popcorn. For things like mashed potatoes, ice cream, and frozen yogurt, one serving is similar to the size of a light bulb. Other light-bulb equivalent servings include 1/2 cup of cooked rice, 1/2 cup of cooked beans, 1/2 cup of blueberries, and 1/2 cup of grapes. However, a serving of cheese is only about as big as three dice. For most nuts and dried fruits, a serving is equivalent in size to a golf ball. Many 3- or 4-oz. meat servings are approximately the same size as a deck of cards, with fish being closer to the size of a checkbook. Think small with fats and oils, since one serving of these is about the same size as a poker chip.