As you might imagine, given my profession, I am frequently asked, “What is the secret to losing weight?” Weight loss is typically achieved with a combination of factors, including exercise, diet and genetics. However, the most common factor people tend to overlook is simply this: portion control.
We hear the term all the time, but are we actually instituting it? Eating the right portion will help ensure that you manage your calorie intake. But if you don’t know how much to have, how will you know if you’ve had too much?
First, check the food label. At the top, a serving size is always noted. This will give you a great starting point on how much to eat. If the portion is too large, you can always have half of the recommendation. For example, peanut butter- the serving size is two tablespoons. If that’s is too much for you, cut the portion in half.
Keep your measuring utensils handy. If a serving size says ¾ of a cup, don’t guess. Buy a measuring cup and use it! I keep mine right in my cereal Tupperware so it’s always there. If you find you are frequently rushed and grabbing food on the go, measure out the portion the night before.
Unfortunately, not everything comes with a food label. This is when you can use the tools around you to help you eyeball the proper amounts. Some good ones to keep in mind:
- A serving of meat should be about 3 oz., or the size of the palm of your hand
- A pancake should be the size of a CD
- A bagel should be the size of a hockey puck
- A serving of fish should be the size of a checkbook
- A serving of pasta (1/3 of a cup cooked) should be the size of a computer mouse
It’s okay to indulge, as long as the portion is reasonable. A small piece of cake (about two inches in diameter) will not put a dent in your diet. A three layer, six-inch slice, however, may cause major damage. When eating out, share large portions with friends or bring home some to avoid over consuming.
Making smart choices about what to eat is the hard part. Taking the extra minute (or having the extra will) to measure out the proper portion size is an easy way to ensure your healthy choices work for you–whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply live your best!
Until next time,