Managing Portions for Healthy Weight Loss
Long-term weight management requires permanent changes in your eating habits and behaviors. This includes making changes to the food choices you make, such as swapping out produce for processed foods. However, this also includes making changes to the way you eat your food—including how much food you eat at one time.
What is a Portion?
A portion refers to how much food you choose to eat at one time. Portion sizes are determined based on recommended serving sizes, which are noted on the nutrition label of every packaged bag, box and bottle of food and drink. When it comes to eating whole foods like meats, produce and whole grains, there are portion size guidelines that you can follow to stay on track.
These guidelines include visual cues like:
- A serving of cheese is one ounce, which is the size of two dice
- One serving of meat is three ounces, the size of a deck of cards
- Fruits and vegetables can be measured out to ½ cup, or the size of a standard computer mouse
- For pasta or rice, a single serving is ½ cup, or about what would fit inside a baseball.
Why do Portions Matter?
Many people don’t think much about the size of their portions. Food is served based on the size of the plate or the amount of food in a package. The portions we ultimately eat are often driven by convenience—and more often than we like to admit, are overlooked entirely. Buffet lines, bowls of snacks at a party, large packages of cookies or chips that make their way to the couch with you, these sorts of mindless eating scenarios can cause you to forget about portion sizes altogether.
However, the fact remains: the larger your portion, the more food you end up eating.
This is why it is important to pay attention to portion sizes. Knowing proper portion sizes will help you manage your intake of calories and nutrients, and will ensure that you are not overeating as you are trying to lose weight.
Learning to Manage Portion Sizes
During your medical weight loss program, you’ll be encouraged to make healthy changes to your lifestyle. Cutting your portions down to an appropriate size may help you manage weight loss long-term.
Here are a few healthy habits that may help you take control of your portions:
- Use smaller plates and bowls
- Use a measuring cup to serve portions
- Slow down your pace of eating
- Take sips of water in between bites
- Read nutrition labels and stick to the recommended serving sizes
By cutting down portion sizes, it is possible to reduce your calorie consumption before you even start making changes to the foods you eat. Oversized portions are one of the biggest contributors to overeating. Every time you sit down to a meal, think about the amount of food you are about to eat. If it seems like a bit much, double check what the recommended portion size is.