Portion Size Awareness

- POSTED ON: Feb 10, 2012


Portion control is essential to successfully manage weight. 
This is true for weight-loss and for maintaining weight-loss.

It is valuable to learn what a portion really looks like. 

Portion control is a basic principle of almost all weight-loss plans,

and yet, it is one of the hardest skills for people to master.

Most restaurant plate servings  contain between 2 to 4 portions,

and finishing the entire plate can go far beyond the limits 

of what the body can use on that day.  

 Visualizing what one normal portion looks like can be helpful. 

Here are some examples:

Meat = the size of  a deck of cards or a cassette audiotape

Fish = the size of a checkbook

Peanut butter=- the size of a walnut

Dressing = the size of a shot glass

Butter = the size of a postage stamp

Cereal = the size of a woman's fist, or a baseball

Rice or pasta = one-half a baseball

Potato = the size of a computer mouse

Bread = the size of 1 CD

Hard Cheese = the size of 2 dominoes or 4 dice

Mixed nuts = fits into the cupped palm of a child's hand, or the size of a golf ball

Generally, a single serving consists of:

1 cup (8 ounces) of milk

1 ounce of cheese

½ cup of vegetables

1 small piece, or `½ cup to 1 cup of fresh fruit

½ cup to 1 cup of cooked rice or pasta

3 ounces of lean meat, fish, chicken.


 We need to retain our brains to think small.

When we measure with our eyes, remember:

1 teaspoon = the size of a fingertip (top to middle joint); fits into the screw cap of a water bottle.

1 tablespoon = the size of a thumb tip (tip to middle joint)

¼ cup = the size of a golf ball

½ cup = a fruit or vegetable that fits into the palm of your hand - about the size of a tennis ball.

1 cup (dry) = the size of a woman's fist or a baseball. 

 Some common Myths and Misconceptions are:

"It's low in fat so I can eat more." 

This is a common mistake, but it isn't true - just because a package says "low fat"

doesn't mean that food is low in calories. Portion control is important for all foods,

even those claiming to be low in fat or calories.  

"Liquids don't count". 

Yes they do - and here it is easy to misjudge the intake of a food portion. 

Some liquids contain a lot of calories.  A simple coffee latte contains about 212 calories,

and the skinny option contains about 167 calories. 

Anything that goes into your body, liquid or solid, will impact your weight.

Leave me a comment.

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Existing Comments:

On Feb 12, 2012 wrote:
I use my hand after getting the idea years ago (but not used back then) from Dr. Abravanel. For lunch and dinner, two fists or less of starch, one palm of protein, two thumbs of fat, three fists of freggies with the major volume in veggies. These are approximate, but you can see how it would make sense that a person's own hand would be a decent gauge for her body. Dr. A said my body type should eat only the amount of grain that I could grab in my hand, dry volume. I get too hungry on that. And I'm not willing to eat a higher ratio of meat just because of sustainability. Though I don't actively count calories, I know most of my breakfasts are under 300 calories. This leaves the option for me to have a couple of mochas at work and still eat moderately, in my estimation. If I eat out on weekends and have a higher percentage of fat, it usually balances out because I don't get as hungry so I may have only two meals and perhaps a salad or brothy soup. For me the point is I have a good idea what volume of dense (starch, protein, fat) food at each meal is going to feel good and allow me to get hungry for the next meal. It turns out that that amount is continuing to let me lose weight when I stick to it. When I do eat more than that, I'm usually conscious that I'm doing it.

On Feb 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Oolala, it sounds like you really know yourself, and have figured out a good plan that works for you.

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