Strategies for Portion Control: 6 Tips to Stay Lean

It’s so easy to overeat these days. Our plates have increased two inches in diameter since the 1940s. Restaurants compete for our business by offering whopper portions; a small these days is nearly double what a small used to be in decades past.  Even serving sizes on packaged foods are deceptive! Here are some ideas to keep portion controls under control.

1. Eat at home. The more you eat at home, the more you can control what goes into your mouth. You’ll choose healthy oils and you can up the fruit, veggie, and fiber content.

2. Use the salad plate. Our dinner plate size has increased from 9” in diameter to 11 ½”! Go measure your plates and you’ll probably find that you’re better off eating off your salad plates instead of your dinner plates.

3. Think about ratios. I recommend people eat 50% fruits and veggies, 25% protein, and 25% whole grains at each meal. This combination will keep you sated and keep the calories at the appropriate levels. You won’t need to count calories if you combine this tip and #2 above; the weight will just come right off.

4. Consider getting a kitchen scale. If you’re really not sure what the portions should be, consider getting a scale. I have one I use when I’m trying new recipes so I can see exactly what I’m doing. They work great and take the guess work out of portion control.  You can get a kitchen scale at any big box store or local kitchen store.

5. Restaurant portions. Ask for a take out box to come with your meal. Immediately scoop half the food (at least) off the plate and into the to-go box. Tuck it out of the way and enjoy your meal. The other strategy is to order two appetizers and have that as your meal. Try to keep the 50-25-25 ratio (mentioned in tip #3) in mind if you can. If you have to omit something, skip the whole grain.

6. Indulge. If you don’t indulge occasionally you’ll drive yourself crazy. One meal per week, eat whatever you want: junky stuff, high calorie stuff, indulgent food, comfort food, whatever makes you happy. Some people can even do twice per week and keep losing weight.  You know your body best, figure out what works for you and do that.

Is there anything that you’d add to this list?  What works best for you?  Do you live by the Paleo Diet or another eating regimen?  I’m very interested in what you guys do to maintain weight.   By the way, I’ve got this great newsletter that you can sign up for.  Just look at the top of the right-hand column.  I only need your email (nothing more) and I’ll give you some great tips that you don’t find on my blog, plus a peek behind some of the stories that you’ll read here.



About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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4 Responses to Strategies for Portion Control: 6 Tips to Stay Lean

  1. Marlee January 21, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Hi Lisa!
    I love these practical tips. Eating of a side plate is definitely one that is easy to do and would make a huge difference.

    I also like to use the hand measurement – where you don’t eat portions of any one food group that are bigger than the palm of your hand.

    And, I love the split a restaurant meal before you eat it rule. By asking for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal and taking half the portion of your plate, you’re way less tempted to scarf down the whole thing.

    Have an awesome weekend!

  2. Lisa Johnson January 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Hi Marlee!

    Thanks, for stopping by and commenting. Good tip with the hand idea. Have a good weekend too.


  3. Lisa January 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    EAT AT HOME!!!! So true! I know so many people that eat lunch out every single day because they want to get out of the office, or they don’t want to bring a lunch. I save probably $6 a day and at LEAST 500 calories a day by packing my own lunch!

  4. Lisa Johnson January 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    Eat at home is really the biggest change you can make. You’d never cook for yourself the way a restaurant would, they get a little slap happy with the butter!

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