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Portion Sizing For Weight Loss

It sounds so simple: Don't eat or drink too much. But looks can be deceiving. It's easy to eat or drink more than you planned to.

You can leave that mistake behind when you start to recognize a true serving size. Hint: It's often smaller than you think it should be.

portion sizes for weight loss

Did you know... the average portion size today is nearly double what it was just 20 years ago?

Wowzers! Remember those mini and jumbo serving sizes that started popping up everywhere a few years back? Today that "mini" bagel you see on the shelf is actually a single serving size, whereas that regular bagel being marketed as "standard size" is now actually jumbo, coming in at around 2 servings. Which means jumbo sizes are basically triple to four times a single serving size.

And that increase can be seen in beverages too. Today's average beverage contains 2 - 3 servings, coming in around 140 - 300 calories per serving... those calories can add up quick.

portions for weight loss

Instead of trying to memorize single servings of common foods in ounces, cups, and tablespoons, try comparing them to familiar things.

For example, a single serving of:

  • Vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist.

  • Pasta is about the size of a scoop of ice cream.

  • Meat, fish, or poultry is the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm (minus your fingers).

  • Snacks like pretzels and chips is about the size of a cupped handful.

  • Apple is the size of a baseball.

  • Potato is the size of a computer mouse.

  • Bagel is the size of a hockey puck.

  • Pancake is the size of a CD.

  • Steamed rice is the size of a cupcake wrapper.

  • Cheese is the size your thumb

The best way to determine how much of a food or beverage is in a single serving is to look at the Nutrition Label and measure it.


At home:

  • Use smaller dishes.

  • Serve food in the appropriate portions, wait 20 minutes before going back for more.

  • Put away leftovers in separate, portion-controlled amounts.

  • Eat from a plate, bowl or ramekin not straight out of the container.

  • Leave food platters on the stove or counter, not on the table.

Eating out:

  • Order from the appetizer menu.

  • Share an entree.

  • Eyeball your appropriate portion of protein, carbs and fats, then set the rest aside,

  • Ask for a box or to-go back for leftovers.


See where your calories are going

Remember those divided plates you had as a kid? Or the lunch trays that created a space for each food group? Bring it back to basics at home by dividing your plate to ensure you have each of the food groups represented: protein, carbs and healthy fats, along with big servings of fruits and vegetables. This will supply your body with the nutrients it needs to feel and function its best while helping you feel satiated and satisfied.

eat from a colorful plate

Add a pop of color

Studies show when you eat from a more colorful plate (vs. boring old white or beige) you feel happier and more fulfilled by what you're consuming. Try serving salad on a small orange plate, soup in a bright red bowl and your chicken on a pretty blue plate. When you mix and match your dinnerware you actually stimulate the senses, making it satisfying for mind and spirit too!

Serve it small

Did you know the average dinner plate used to be 9" in diameter? Today much of our food is served up on plates ranging from 12 - 16". This creates two problems: 1. When you fill a larger plate with a true portion size you look at the plate feeling deprived, and 2. If you fill your large plate to capacity you're consuming two to three times more a single serving (if not more).

The Solution? Go with a smaller plate which will reflect a true serving size. This triggers feelings of happiness and satisfaction in your brain, leading to greater meal satisfaction.

Pre-portion snacks

Late night snacking is sneaky. You grab a bag of crackers or chips, sit down in front of the television or start scrolling your phone or tablet, and before you know it you're halfway through the bag. Instead of grabbing the entire bag, box or container, portion your food right from the start. Small bowls, ramekins and plates are excellent for portioning out snacks. The trick is not to refill it every time you hit the bottom! Remove distractions and be present with what you're eating.

Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight and become the best version of you? I’ve got you friend! Come join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy. It's for busy women like you who are ready to lose weight, gain energy, get healthy and fit -- without restrictive diets or punishing food rules.


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