“Portion control” is a common phrase thrown around in healthy eating conversations, but what is a woman to do when she doesn’t have her handy dandy measuring cups? (Oh, you don’t carry around measuring cups?) It can be hard to determine whether your steak is four ounces or your snack of carrot sticks counts as one serving of veggies or two. Here are some tricks to keep your portions in check.
Get “portions” straight from “servings.” Nutritional labels can tell you more than just the number of calories, carbs and grams of fat there are in your food. It also shows you how many servings it should be. A serving is essentially a recommended portion, but bear in mind that a serving on a label can also be several portions, depending on your caloric needs or simply how hungry you are.
For instance, if you eat one cup of nuts, you can count it as three servings, since the USDA has determined that one serving of nuts is 1/3 cup. This also means you get three servings of protein, which is a plus!
Use your plate as a guide. While the old food pyramid told us that we should eat lots of grains limit our dairy, fats and sugar intake, the FDA recently made the nutritional guide much easier to remember. Now, it states that your typical dinner-sized plate should be half-filled with fruits and veggies, with the other half split between healthy grain and lean meat.
Plates can also help you if they are smaller. You are less likely to eat large portions if you don’t have space on your plate for all that food, so consider using salad plates on the regular.
Prepare your portions. Yes, it is tempting to grab that bag of chips as you rush out the door, but what you saved in time in the morning will be made up for later when you find yourself mindlessly eating the entire bag at your desk or in the car. Instead of eating straight out of any container, take the time to divvy up a reasonable serving for yourself and put it in a baggie to take with you. Set aside some time after a trip to the grocery store to portion out your food in advance, and you’ll still be able to quickly grab a baggie when you’re on-the-go.
Compare to common things. Use these memory tricks to envision what a portion looks like.
• Two tablespoons = a ping-pong ball
• One ounce = a pair of dice
• One cup = a tennis ball
With these guidelines in mind, it may be easier to serve up just enough of what you need to feel your best!