Not sure what a portion size should be? Make sense of portion sizes by relating portions to common household objects.
- Learn to read food labels. Pay attention to the number of servings contained in the package, then note the calorie and fat content per serving. If the label on a large muffin, for example, says two servings: 250 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving, you will have consumed 500 calories and 20 grams of fat if you eat the entire muffin!
- Compare marketplace portions to recommended serving sizes. If you eat a marketplace portion of something – say a big bagel, compare its size to what’s recommended on the food pyramid. A standard bagel is two ounces, and counts as two servings from the bread/cereal/grain food group. A marketplace bagel weighs nearly six ounces and counts as six servings of grain. A pasta dinner from your favorite restaurant might add up to six or more servings of grains as well. If you eat a 12-ounce piece of meat, you’re consuming three ounces more than the recommended daily serving.
- Repackage supersize bags. Supersize bags may be more economical, but they can also encourage you to overeat. If you buy huge bags of chips or pretzels, for example, repackage the contents into smaller containers.
- Share a meal. Order a couple of appetizers and split one main course with another person when you go out for a meal. Split an order of fries. Order one dessert and some extra forks. Four people can enjoy a taste or two of a decadent dessert, without feeling guilty.
- Eat half or less. If you’re not sharing a meal, eat half of what you’re served and take the rest home to enjoy as another meal.
- Use a smaller plate. At home, serve your meals on smaller plates. Your plate will look full, but you’ll be eating less.
- Skip second helpings. Eat one reasonable helping and don’t go back for seconds. Don’t put a big platter of food on the table. You’re more likely to nibble and eat more than you realize.
- Slow down! Eat slowly, to allow yourself time to feel full so you won’t be as tempted to heap on a second helping.
If you have a hard time leaving food on your plate – remember that there are two ways to waste food: You can throw it out or carry it around as fat cells.
The first mistake was being served too much food. Don’t compound that mistake by eating more than you need.