One Of The Big Three In My Journey

If you missed my weekend post: Is This Okay? (Mini-Rant) please read it! Not really for what I wrote, but for all the interesting, insightful comments you all left!

Today I wanted to focus on one aspect of my weight loss journey that is vitally important – Portion Control.

Portion control was one of my “Big Three” when I was losing weight. I watched portions, controlled the fat percentage in my overall diet, and exercised. Of those three, portion size was the easiest to deceive myself over. It was easy to watch the fat content in foods, exercise was either a “did” or “didn’t,” but portions could be tricky.

I would often try and justify having a second or third piece of bread because I didn’t put butter on it.

I would take a couple of extra crackers, instead of stopping at the 5 per the serving size.

I would dish out a bit more casserole than I knew was the right amount.

If I ate baked chips, instead of counting out the correct amount I’d just reach my hand in a few times in a row.

I would eat more pasta even though I knew what a serving looked like because I had measured it before.

I’d eat 3 pieces of diet whole wheat bread because it was diet, and had less calories.

Along my weight loss year I stopped fooling myself over portion sizes, and made myself be honest about what a portion really was and wasn’t. Sometimes it was hard because sometimes I wanted more of something, but I knew I had had enough. Here are seven tips that might help you when dealing with the temptation to eat a little bigger portion than you really intend.

Seven Tips for Portion Control

1. Per Dr. Oz - Use a smaller plate, bowl, or cup. I do this all the time and it really helps – both now in maintenance, and during my weight loss. If I ever eat ice cream I use one of those tiny custard cups and just put a small spoonful in. It’s not a lot of ice cream, but it is enough.

2. Learn what the proper portions of food are. Here’s a great resource. For example, a baked potato shouldn’t be bigger than your computer mouse. In other words, it shouldn’t be as big as your head like you see in some restaurants!

3. Read the serving size on the package. Sometimes you may be surprised at how small a serving really is. Crackers anyone? How about stopping at five.

4. Think before you eat. Really think about what you are about to eat, and resolve to enjoy each bite.

5. Stick with one helping of the main dish. If you are still hungry, fill up on veggies or salad and leave the entree alone.

6. Don’t be a member of the Clean Plate Club. It’s okay to leave things on your plate. For me, it’s the rare meal where I eat everything on my plate. Ask John!

7. When in doubt – measure. The value of measuring and weighing your food is proven. Do you want to measure forever? No – and you don’t have to. But if you aren’t sure or aren’t confident in your ability to use visual cues, then measure.

Portion control really is the key to weight loss and weight maintenance. You can exercise, you can eat healthy food, but without eating the right AMOUNT of food, you will have a hard time achieving your goals!!

Question: I’d love to hear your thoughts on portions and how you control them!  Diane

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About Diane Carbonell

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  1. I still measure out my portions with measuring cups and measuring spoons. When I don’t I start slowly creeping up on the scale again:( Its just something that I do to help myself like daily exercise or teeth brushing…At one point in time I had a food scale to weigh meat but I don’t now I use the palm of my hand as a judge and I have tiny hands:)
    All really great tips by the way.
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Saturday A Favorite Poem Of Mine =-.

  2. If you read my new entry today you will see I am gaining but doing all that I feel is right…
    I do measure…
    Dinner time I eat more that i should, I know I do.
    Find that the most difficult meal to measure.
    I’m good with all my meals till dinner time….
    When you get a chance to read my latest entry would love some suggestions.

  3. I do pretty well at meal time. But with snacks, I measure and count things out. When I don’t, I see the portions creep. And peanut butter! So easy to go overboard if I don’t measure.
    .-= Karen@WaistingTime´s last blog ..I Knew You Were Coming So I Baked A Cake =-.

  4. My food scale has been a great tool for my weight loss. I had no idea what a proper portion size should look like. Especially when it came to pasta! Being Italian, a BOWL of pasta was a portion, not 1 cup!

    Although, I am trying to transition to eating intuitively, I find comfort in still measuring or weighing my food. It helps me feel in control :)
    .-= Marisa (Loser for Life)´s last blog ..Pass On The Grass =-.

  5. Love these tips. Just learning how to portion my food was probably the most important part of losing weight for me!
    .-= Lauren @ Eater not a runner´s last blog ..snack attack =-.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Hi Diane

    Yes I agree absolutely about portion control

    In fact I go further than you. I dont think it’s good to eat too much of ANYTHING. And that includes salads and veggies.

    IMV if we give ourselves permission to fill our plates with salad, then it doesnt take long before we start to trick ourselves. We start to eat lots of the wrong vegetables. Or we get frustrated because we’re eating a lot of something AND IT’S NOT FILLING US UP. And you know where that can lead ;)

    So I would say “everything in moderation”. Even the veggies :)

  7. No question, Diane, portion control is the number one most important behavior for weight control. Great suggestions for help with this!!
    .-= Dr. J´s last blog ..Lab Notes: FDA: Rotavirus Vaccines Safe After All; Calcium Essential for Lifelong Bone Health =-.

  8. I am so with you here Diane!!!!!!!!!!! I do all of your suggestions & especially the food on smaller plates and bowls. I even use the smaller salad fork instead of the regular size one. Also, I ALWAYS READ the serving size & all else on the label! If I am getting something to eat & sit elsewhere in the house, the container/box/package stays in the kitchen. Only the portion I measure out comes with me!

    On my healthy animal cookie snacks at night, my hubby always teases me about couting them out! :-)
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Fear of Fear =-.

  9. The THINKING part is important for me. It’s so easy to overeat, even when we know exactly how much a portion size is. If I stop and think about it, I’m much better off than if I just reach for more without being DISCIPLINED.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Operation Lose Five Pounds: Painless Tips =-.

  10. I measure everything with a measuring cup and a kitchen scale, or count the pieces. If you do not do this , how can you know what you are eating ? The serving size is listed on the packaging of almost every food sold today , so it is easy to judge what you should be eating.Different plates will give the illusion of a bigger or smaller portion. One thing I have found is that if I make something like spaghetti with a marinara sauce, if you put a serving on a dinner plate it can look small, but move the same amount to a pasta bowl and it looks HUGE ! I think this is why so many old italian families eat pasta in these dishes. They can also make things like oatmeal look like a huge amount because it spreads it out very thin but wide.
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..I will no longer be feeling my Wheaties =-.

  11. I still struggle with portion control, because I just love to eat. I weigh everything but veggies and most fruit. It’s actually such 2nd nature to me to do that. I do everything in grams, which makes it very easy (and more accurate). It really helps because I have to remind myself that while I would like to just blop peanut butter on top of oatmeal, when I measure out 15 g (1 tbsp), I can really see what 100 calories really is.
    .-= Lori (Finding Radiance)´s last blog ..Bagels and beautiful day. =-.

  12. Barbara W. says:

    the scale is my best friend in portion control. I only weigh pasta, fat-free potato chips, nuts, etc. … not veggies or fruits (which I fill up on). :)

  13. Awesome portion control tips!! I am definitely a fan of measuring – mostly things I tend to go overboard on like dry pasta, rice, meats, etc. I just find that if i’m left on my own I overserve and over eat!
    .-= fittingbackin´s last blog ..NYC Part Uno: Biergarten, Sightseeing, Shopping and a 30th Birthday Celebration =-.

  14. Great tips for portion control. That really is the hardest hurdle to get over. I have used the smaller plate method and it really does work. Just have to keep telling myself that once I’m done eating, stay away from seconds on the entree!
    Thanks for the site to portion control-very helpful!

  15. I STILL MEASURE! I use my measuring cups like other people use spoons.

    I have taught my kids (the girls) to do the same thing – not so they restrict – but so they know they are getting enough – protein especially (one is a vegan and the other a vegetarian).

    I don’t weigh so much anymore – because what I used to weigh was meat and I rarely eat meat any more.

    And here is a great link to Dr Katz on Dr Oz’s site clarifying the people that have to watch fat and the people that have to watch carbs. I know we all have to watch both and we all have to eat healthy fats. But the article is talking about the fine tuning that is needed between different body types.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..This is where I turn to avoid night time eating or compulsive eating between meals =-.

  16. Great tips! I don’t do the smaller plate thing, only because I’m weird and don’t like my foods to touch. Unless they’re salad. :)

    Another tip for snacking that has helped me enormously is not only to learn what the appropriate portion is, but to then halve it! If I want more, I can go back and have the other half, but most of the time, I’m satisfied with the lesser amount. Who knew?!
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..The More Things Change… =-.

  17. These are all very good ideas, most of which I practice daily. #4 though, is, in my opinion, the most important — to think before you eat. Imagine that America…

    Very nice Diane!!!
    .-= Emergefit´s last blog ..Blue Zone Thoughts… =-.

  18. For me the smaller cup DOES work with ice cream. But smaller plate thingy. Still working on it. Ooops.
    .-= Yum Yucky´s last blog ..I Did It! 7 Days Without Eating Sugar =-.

  19. I have recently started using small bowls for icecream too, when I *have* to have it, as well as a very small teaspoon.

    I have been realizing this last week (your timing is PERFECT) that I really do need to do better with my portion control. I’ve moved to a lower carb diet, with higher protein, and LOTS of fruits/veggies.. but my portions are a bit outta whack. that’s this week’s challenge to me! Thanks Diane.

    btw.. commentluv.. isn’t being lovely today, not working..

  20. I am not very good at measuring, but we do use small plates. We started mostly because they fit in the dishwasher better LOL! They do keep things in perspective, though. :)
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..Manual labor =-.

  21. Most of your tips I knew but I’m not that good at portion control yet. So no big help here but it was interesting to read it again and think it over again.

  22. I love your blog Diane! Faithful reader. I’m at goal now and just last night I went to a graduation party, put four “dinky” (note my eye rolling) servings on my plate and was SO surprised that it was enough! Portion control, scale, and measuring cups will always be what “reins me in” and I know that! This is a lifestyle!

  23. Great tips! Portion control is so important, and I love how you shared the little ways you would sneak some extra food onto your plate, I’m sure we’re all guilty of that from time to time! Thanks for the ideas for cutting down, I bet they’ll empower many people to change their habits!

  24. For the longest time with snacks I couldn’t control I would preportion them out into little sandwich bags so that I would have to actually take a second bag instead of “just a few more.”

    And I note how much each recipe serves and dish that up into the serving bowls and tupperware so I have no excuse.

    And my food scale was a huge help at first when I was learning/relearning portion control. I still use it for pasta.
    .-= Cynthia (It All Changes)´s last blog ..Scenic View =-.

  25. Its amazing how much less of things we can be satisfied with if we would only try! Any time we get a sweet tooth while out shopping, instead of our old way = a King size candy bar for each of us, hubby & I split a regular sized one, and its very satiating.
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Grattitude Has Its Place =-.

  26. I think just learning what a cup, tablespoon, etc. look like helps a ton. I used to eyeball it and I was shocked to learn that my two tablespoons of peanut butter was more like a quarter cup.
    .-= Tracey @ I’m Not Superhuman´s last blog ..When Work Calls =-.

  27. Great topic today. It’s funny but it took about two years of being on a reasonable diet plan for me to realize that I didn’t need to have two pieces of chicken when we had chicken for dinner. I like your statement about never have second portions. I make myself wait at least 20 minutes and have never decided to go for it after that wait. I also have extra sets of measuring cups and keep them in things I know I might go overboard on–like my cereal, and the popcorn, and the oatmeal. The measuring cup is my scoop and I’ve got built in insurance against overestimating.
    .-= Tish´s last blog ..I did it! =-.

  28. I tell myself that I don’t need to eat it ALL now. I can have a little bit tomorrow.

    Thanks for your post!!!
    .-= Bree Watson´s last blog ..Here We GO…… =-.

  29. Alana Jeffries says:

    To help with losing weight, a friend of mine is suggesting I use Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets, which she describes as basically a portioning guide that also seasons meat and fish. Kind of like the “palm of hand” rule, but more accurate. Does anyone have input on this one? She claims it is working for her with home cooking. I want to give it a shot but it looks like it is only available online.

  30. Portion control is HUGE! no joke. It’s so crucial. You can eat too much healthy food and still gain weight. You have to manage your portions. I don’t do anything like measuring, I just eyeball everything.
    .-= Mary (A Merry Life)´s last blog ..Weigh In: Operation Sexification Is A GO! =-.

  31. I do measure certain things like brown rice, rice pasta, soups, stews or casseroles. I count out almonds, hazelnuts, cashews etc. If I am eating a fruit that is easily measured (blueberries or raspberries) I do, but things like cherries or strawberries I count. As I am sitting here thinking about it, I realize I do count and measure a lot of my food.
    .-= Kimberley´s last blog ..My Week Update # 9 and Week #20 Goals =-.

  32. LOL about the big head portions. I control portions by reading the serving size and adhering to that. Once I take 15 Lays baked crisps out of the bag, it’s sealed again and that usually works…
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..Meeting At The Top Of The Stairs =-.

  33. you nailed em all.
    when I was a trainer the biggest stumbling block I sawin my clients was a true NONAWARENESS of portion size.

    we’d take grocery trips together and examine packages and frequently they had not even realized they were consuming more than a serving and accidentally undoing all their efforts.

    So important to be an informed consumer.
    .-= Miz´s last blog ..No Excuses! part 3 coming tomorrow! =-.

  34. Still a problem for me with snacks. i weigh and measure for meals but have a habit of taking a handful of animal crackers without counting or measuring. Almond or peanut butter is another downfall for me. I weigh my ice cream but it always looks like such a little dip so I am going to go to a custard cup for that. Great tips.

    Can anyone give me your method for weighing pasta? I measure it but I’m not sure that is accurate.

  35. i have a tremendous appetite. My love of exercise makes it even bigger due to increased calorie burn. I try to drink lots of water with meals, V-8, and give myself 30 minutes after eating the first serving to let my brain think I’m full.

  36. I’ve not weighed/measured/counted, but I did have to pull myself out of denial a few times wrt portion control. When I start eating a new food, I figure out calories, portions, just to have an idea of where I’m at. Even old foods, I think you once commented on a blog post where I managed to eat 800 cals of peaches, corn on cob, other healthy stuff, out of boredom. Easy to do if not paying attention.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..My Toxic Mind =-.

  37. My best purchase was a Salter Digital Nutritional Scale. Not only does it measure your portions, but with the push of a button, calculates calories, protein, carbs, fat, salt & cholesterol. It was a luxury purchase for me, but it has been amazingly helpful and fun. I also use the smaller plate and salad fork for all meals.

    My blog is brand new and not real fancy, but I’ll improve it’s readability over time and hope to start getting some feedback and comments soon. Your blog has been and still is, such an encouragement to me, plus we both live in the great state of Tennessee.
    .-= Sharon´s last blog ..Tracking Progress =-.

  38. I like to use a couple tips I learned from a book called Body for Life. The book recommends using your fist and the palm of your hand to indicate the size of portions. For instance, your clenched fist is about the same size as the amount of rice, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.. The palm of your hand is an accurate size to determine the thickness of a piece of meat.
    .-= karen@fitnessjourney´s last blog ..Meet the Trainers Week Continues =-.

  39. I control my portions by knowing my calorie count. Now the odd time I’m out I don’t know it but I have an idea.

  40. I do the same thing. :(

    My tip: a serving size is NEVER as much food as we want to eat. :)
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..I Don’t Do Flip Turns =-.