Portion control is an integral part of a healthy eating plan, and it can help you manage your calorie intake. To succeed at portion control, you’ll need to develop a game plan that incorporates mindful eating habits.
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With many aspects of life, success comes down to having a winning strategy.
When it comes to your diet, a winning strategy typically involves portion control. If you’re consuming more food than your body needs, you may find yourself feeling sluggish or gaining weight. This can happen even if you’re eating reasonably healthy foods. It’s important to know when to say when.
Portion control can be extremely valuable, whether you want to lose weight or maintain your current physique. Below, we’ll explain the difference between a portion and a serving. We’ll also offer some tips that can help you choose appropriate portions.
Read on to learn more about steps you can take to gain control of your eating habits.
What’s the difference between serving size and portion size?
Many people refer to portion size and serving size when discussing food. These two terms don’t mean the same thing.
You’ll find nutritional data regarding serving size displayed on food labels. A serving size is a standardized amount of food. When used in relation to food groups, it shows the recommended amount that should be eaten with each meal. When used more generally, it conveys the amount of food a person typically consumes in a single sitting.
Portion size is more subjective. A portion is the amount of food you choose to consume at each sitting. It may be more than, equal to or less than a single serving.
You can use serving size to help guide you in choosing appropriate portions. Below, we’ve listed some tips to consider.
Tip #1: Avoid eating food directly from the package
If you have a pack of chips or a carton of ice cream, it can be tempting to just open the package and dig in. However, it’s a bad idea to eat straight from the package if you want to master portion control.
The typical package of food contains more than one serving. And in many cases, packages are jumbo-sized or family-sized, with enough food to feed several people.
It’s much harder to keep track of how much food you’re consuming when you’re eating directly from the package.
This is especially true if you’re eating while watching TV or working on a task. It’s easy to wind up scarfing down more food than you’d intended to consume if your attention is focused on something other than eating.
Don’t eat food directly from the package. Instead, dole out the portion you wish to consume into a dinner plate or bowl.
Tip #2: Avoid eating from large containers
As mentioned, it’s best to eat from a dinner plate or bowl, but these containers don’t all deliver the same results. It turns out the size of the plate or bowl you choose could impact the amount you eat.
Research shows that when meals or snacks are placed in large containers, it encourages people to eat larger quantities of food, even when portion size is held constant.
In one study, participants were served identical portion sizes of candy. With some participants, the portion was placed in a small container; with others, a large container was used.
Even though all participants were given the same portion size, those eating from the large containers consumed more food.
This suggests that bigger containers encourage people to eat larger quantities of food. To discourage overeating, choose smaller plates and bowls when serving your meals and snacks.
Tip #3: Know the size of a single serving
Food labels will typically provide you with calorie and nutrition information for a single serving. You might think that estimating serving sizes is fairly intuitive, but research shows it’s easy to miscalculate.
The best way to assess an accurate serving size is to use a scale or measuring cup.
You won’t necessarily have to use these tools every time you eat. Use them at the start of your portion control journey to get a sense of how much food is contained in a single serving.
After a while, you’ll likely be able to accurately estimate serving sizes, and using these tools won’t be necessary.
Here’s some general guidance that can help you figure out how much food you have on your plate: With fruit and vegetables, a fist-sized amount of food equals about one cup. With meat and fish, an amount of food that’s the size of a deck of cards is equal to about three ounces.
Tip #4: Drink a glass of water before each meal
Your stomach only has enough room for a limited amount of food or drink. As you consume more food or beverages, you’ll start to feel full. If you feel full, you’re less likely to overeat.
Water can leave you with a sense of fullness, and it contains no calories. For these reasons, drinking water before a meal is a good idea. It can fill you up, and this makes it easier for you limit your food consumption to an appropriate portion.
Begin your meal with a glass of water to discourage overeating.
Tip #5: Opt for healthy meal delivery
A meal delivery service can take the stress and hassle out of portion control. This service ships food directly to your doorstep.
With this service, you’ll find that there’s an appropriate amount of food and calories contained in each meal. That means there’s no need to use a scale or measuring cup.
The package lists each meal’s nutritional data. This makes it easy for you to make sure you’re getting the right mix of macronutrients.
Whether your goal is weight loss or weight maintenance, use the guidance discussed above to make a plan that helps you keep track of how much food you consume at each meal. Consistency is important, so be sure to stick to the plan you’ve created.
Fresh N’ Lean provides healthy meal delivery that makes portion control easy. Choose from one of our five meal plans to have delicious, organic foods delivered to your doorstep.