The Art and Science Of Portion Control

The Art and Science Of Portion Control

If you are trying to lose weight or are trying to maintain a healthy weight, you will have to learn about portion control. Bad po    rtion control has been instilled in us by restaurants who bring out big slabs of meat, huge salads, and large sides. In reality, the portions of foods you should eat are much less than you will find at a restaurant. 

Learn Portion Control From Food Labels

You can get an idea of portion size by reading the label on the packages and cans of food you buy in the store. The food label will list the number of calories per serving and the number of servings per container. You may be surprised that the package of food you think is just one serving is actually much more than one serving. You have to multiply the number of calories per serving by the number of servings in order to get at the total number of calories you are taking in if you eat the whole package.

For example, if you buy a can of soup, it may say 80 calories per serving, which doesn’t seem like a lot of calories. You might even think it is a low calorie food. Then take a look at the number of servings per can. If it says the product contains two servings per can, you have to double the amount of calories you will be eating to 160 calories if you intend to eat the whole can of soup.  

This is especially important if you are eating foods like chips or other finger food. A bag of chips can be eaten fairly quickly by a single person, especially when you are munching on them while doing something mindless, like watching television. While there may only be 110 calories per serving, there are like 20 servings inside a bag of potato chips so you will have consumed in excess of 2000 calories in one sitting. The same is true of nuts, which usually have serving sizes that are in the range of 1 to 2 tablespoons.

Meat Portion Sizes

Another area where people tend to go wrong is measuring meat portions. In general, a single portion of meat is only three ounces or the amount of meat that can be contained in the palm of your hand. If you are eating a large steak, for example, this is usually much more than a single serving and you will be eating a lot more calories than you think. The same is true of fish, pork, and chicken.

Got Water?

Drink an 8 ounce glass of water before each meal, it will help you eat less than you normally do, naturally controlling portion intake.

Fruit And Vegetable Portion Sizes

Fruits are healthy right? However, they are also loaded with sugar, and while they do contain nutrients the effect of sugar in the body is similar to candy and sweets when taken in large amounts and can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes. A portion size of berries, for example, is about a half cup of berries. If you eat a lot of berries, you are eating more than one portion. Eat more green vegetables, which have virtually no sugar and very little calories so you can eat more, get full and not gain weight.

How Big Is Your Plate?

One of the greatest pitfalls in portion control is using a large dinner plate. We fill our plates, not paying attention to their size and when the plate is large, we eat much more food than we need. We also tend to clean our plates, which makes using a large plate an even greater hindrance. Use 5 to 6 inch plates to control portions of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


If you are really watching your caloric intake, calorie counters either in mobile app, online or book format can help you learn and understand actual portion sizes. Make sure to measure and get to know what those portions look like. This includes, in ounces, in cups and otherwise. 

With practice and experience, you will be able to quickly identify portions and control your intake. This will give you an idea of how much to eat per serving and how many calories you are really taking in should you choose to eat more.