The Key to Serving Sizes

February 12th, 2013 posted by Dr. Sharon House

by Dr. Sharon House

When it comes to portion/serving sizes, do you really know how much is on your plate? The truth is that most overweight people think they know how much is on their plates but, in reality, don’t! Measuring portion/serving sizes at home is relatively easy when you use measuring cups used for baking. But what do you do when you are eating out either at a favorite restaurant or with friends or relatives? Well, of course, you could tote along your measuring cups! Just imagine this amusing scene… You in an upscale restaurant pulling out a set of measuring cups from a special little carrying case and handing them to your ‘weighter’ with the request to ‘top ’em up’ with food! As comical as that may appear, it really is exactly what needs to happen. However, I don’t think many of you are about to try that out… somehow it is not quite the portion control solution you probably had in mind! So before I divulge the BIG secret to portion control, let me ask you a question. Why do you think it is so important for you to know how exactly how much is on your plate? You might respond in a number of ways! However, the reply I hope you’ll give me is: “Well, it’s pretty obvious. Without a portable strategy or system I can use to determine portion sizes, I will most likely overestimate how much is really on my plate. If I don’t have a way of figuring that out, I’ll consume extra calories I don’t need. I’ll end up overeating!” Yep that’s the answer I want! And we all know what happens when we overeat, don’t we? Even when it’s not a special occasion. Having a simple, easy to use and remember system that you can use to determine portion sizes will help you to stop overeating both on a daily basis or on those occasions when you are eating out. Eliminating extra calories at the table (or before it even gets there) means they won’t be hanging around on your hips adding to your ‘weight stress’. You’ll lose weight faster and strengthen your confidence in your own ability to select appropriate portion sizes. It will serve you well now while you are losing weight and in the future when you reach the weight maintenance stage. One of the easiest, most highly portable systems you can take with you wherever you go is the ability to create images using the power of your own mind. On the chart below are a list of various foods and some associated images. Using images of familiar objects as a guideline makes figuring out appropriate portion/serving sizes a cinch no matter where you find yourself! Start by using these images as guidelines when you are dishing up food at home and graduate to trying them out when you are eating out. Muffin – Size of a Yo Yo 1/2 cup of fruit, vegetables, pasta or rice – 1/2 grapefruit 2 tablespoons of peanut butter – Ping pong ball 1 cup of fruit – baseball 1 ounce of cheese – Four dice/2 dominos Average Bagel – Hockey puck or size of a Yo Yo 1 oz. Serving of bread – Size of a Yo Yo Slice of bread – Cassette tape One cup of lettuce – Four green leaves Serving of ice cream – 1/2 baseball Med. Potato – Computer mouse Med. apple or orange – Tennis ball 8 ounces of meat – Thin paperback book 12 fries – One half of a baseball T-bone steak (or any beef) – Deck of cards 3 ounces of meat, poultry, fish – Deck of cards or bar of soap 1 ounce of meat – Match box

As you become more familiar with this chart, practice ‘sizing’ the portions of other food that you eat. Here’s how to do it…


Determine the size and the calorie count in a serving. Read the labels on packages or cans! If you are using a recipe… most recipes are for four, so just divide the total calorie count by four to get a single serving.


Use a measuring cup (or count out the number of pieces in a serving size) to actually see what the correct portion size actually looks like.


Now use your imagination. Assign an image of a familiar object to it and you’re done! With just a little practice, you’ll find yourself using these images almost automatically. Portion sizing does not have to be hassle or cumbersome. Weight loss can even be enjoyable if you make it easy for yourself!

Dr. Sharon House (2 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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