Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just One Thing: Portion Control

As you know, there are no forbidden foods in my healthy lifestyle. Forbidding things (like chocolate or Christmas cookies) can be a trigger for me. So in order to still enjoy certain things that I love, I've learned to embrace portion control. I'm not overly keen on the phrase "portion control" but I have yet to think of a clever euphemism. Moving on, portion control is something that takes a bit of practice but it's a skill worth having. It allows me to eat a wide variety of delicious foods while taking really good care of my health and continue working toward my weight loss goal.

One of my favorite tricks is to check the serving size of the particular recipe that I'm cooking. If the recipe serves 4, I portion out 4 servings. One for my husband, one for me and the other two servings go into two plastic containers and straight into the fridge for lunch or dinner at work on an upcoming shift. This keeps us from stuffing ourselves. It's not like we can't have a snack later on. And speaking of snacks, until I learned to eyeball a quarter cup (which is the serving size of most nuts, granola and trail mixes) I kept the quarter cup measure right in the pantry near where I keep the snacks. It's an easy trick when dealing with high calorie but otherwise nutritious foods.

Spark people has a quick guide to portion sizes you can print off and stick on the fridge or pantry door. Also, The Portion Teller Plan, which I reviewed here, is a really helpful guide to learning how to master portion control.

It took me a long time to learn that portion control isn't about restriction. It has actually allowed me to reclaim my health and lose over 93 pounds while still enjoying so many of the foods that I love.


  1. A few times I would notice the serving size on my pasta and try to make enough for just one serving. Most of time though I add a little more. I always eat and go crazy on the sauce. I probably couldn't put just a few spoonfuls. Going by just servings would be really tough for me. I should try it for a week to see what happens. I don't I'll be able to last a week.

  2. Just came here from Lori's blog and holy crap, I didn't recognize you!!! When I scrolled down and saw the picture of you with the martini glass, I remembered seeing that in your header(?) quite a while look awesome and have done a great job of losing your weight!!! Congratulations!!!

  3. I LOVE this concept: portion control isn't about deprivation - it's about the FREEDOM to enjoy ALL the foods you love while still losing weight and living a healthy life. What a great reminder.

    Kattie - I think you *could* last a week portioning out your food. Plus, there's no "rule" that says you can't have more than one serving of something, especially if it's something good for you. Just being AWARE of how much you're eating would be a great benefit to the "measure it out" approach for a week.

  4. Welcome back Shelley, I remember seeing your photo in comments before.

    Thank you for chiming in with your excellent advice, SRunnerGirl!

    Kattie, if an Olive Garden sized portion of pasta and sauce is your last meal of the day especially after restricting calories at work all day, it is going to be difficult to reach your goals.

    But if you try limit the portions of your trigger foods (foods you can't help but over eat or will trigger a binge) like pizza or pasta and add a huge salad or a big plate of roasted vegetables to accompany them, you will get plenty full.

    And yes, you can. If I can do this, anyone can do this. Stop thinking in "can't" and start believing that you are worth good and healthy food choices. You CAN do it.

  5. Thanks for the mention of my book The Portion Teller Plan. Portion control is not about diet or deprivation--but about eating smaller portions of high-cal foods, and LARGER portions of healthy foods. Best diet is the one you don't know you are on! I will be discussing plates and portions on CBS Feb 1, 11 PM news.
    Best, Dr. Young