Counting calories and fat grams is one way to keep your diet in check, but you may grow weary of the endless calculation. Looking for something easier that requires less addition and subtraction? Watching your portions - and the serving sizes on foods - is one way to keep your eating under control.
Start out by using the Food Guide Pyramid to determine how many portions of each type of food you need each day. When it comes to grains, one serving is equal to one slice of bread or one half a bagel the size of a hockey puck, one-half cup rice, which is equal to a cupcake wrapper, or one-half cup pasta, which equals an ice cream scoop. For fruits and vegetables, one serving is equal to one piece the size of a tennis ball or one-half cup the size of a light bulb. When it comes to protein such as fish, steak, chicken or turkey, three ounces measures up to a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. One ounce of cheese equals about four dice, and for a teaspoon of fat look to the tip of your thumb.
Try practicing portion control with the following tips from the American Dietetic Association:
- Change your place setting. Use salad or bread plates to serve up your food instead of larger dinner plates.
- Become a label reader. Check out the food's Nutrition Facts label for the amount of food in a single serving - and stick to it.
- Watch your beverage intake. According to the
Food Guide Pyramid, a serving of juice equals 6 ounces (about 1/2 cup), but commercial bottled juices and teas are often sold in bottles that contain 2.5 or more servings - making it easy to drink extra portions - and extra calories.
- Cut it in half. If you're trying to reduce your portions for weight loss, serve yourself a full portion - and then put half back. You'll get all the taste but half the calories.
- Think ahead in restaurants. Restaurants often serve oversized portions, so avoid anything that's labeled "supersize" and ask for a doggie bag - at the start of the meal before you have a chance to down two or more servings.
Food Pyramid |
Sources: American Dietetic Association, www.eatright.org.