Five Helpful Strategies for Portion Control (No Measuring Required)

I’m never going to tell you that transforming your body is as simple as a calories-in-calories-out formula. To truly affect your body, you absolutely have to start with your head. You have to change the way you think about food and exercise. You’ve got to identify your motives and work hard at finding an approach that works for you. You’ve got to do your homework.

But if that all feels over-whelming, there are definitely ways that you can start to make inroads without having to get all philosophical and diligent. One of these ways is by taking a good look at your portions, and then learning how to control them. This is easier said than done. To help, I’ve compiled 5 strategies that I use to make sure that my eyes aren’t getting my stomach into trouble.

  1. Give Yourself a Hand: One way of eye-balling a serving is by using your closed fist as a guide. You could also imagine a deck of cards. I started doing this during my stint with the Body for Life program a few years back.
  2. Get Real: The truth is that most people don’t have any idea how much they are eating. Measuring is one way to get a grip on the true volume of food that you are consuming, but checking out a few online resources that actually show you what a 300 calorie meal looks like can also be enlightening:
  3. Box First, Thank Me Later:  Restaurant portions are insanely huge. Yet, as you linger there over fabulous conversation in low-lighting with your best friend or significant other, you always seem to pick away until the plate is entirely empty.  (At least this happens to me!)  I circumvent this pesky problem by asking for a to-go box when I place my order for food.  As soon as the meal arrives, I divide it up, box the excess, and put it off to the side. This strategy has been extremely successful for me.  Another variation of this strategy is to split your entree and/or dessert with your eating buddy.
  4. Sip-Bite-Sip:  Water, that is.  I try to be conscious about taking a bite of food, truly savoring it, and then taking a sip of water.  Sipping between bites serves the dual purpose of requiring you to be more present and conscious to what you’re eating (which also means you’ll enjoy it more!).  It also causes you to eat more slowly, allowing your body to catch up with your consumption to give you a more accurate idea of when you’re truly full.  Water will also aid digestion and accelerate the onset of a feeling of satiation.
  5. Use Small Plates:  (or bowls)  We’re all really just big toddlers who have managed to somehow master potty-training and, if we’re lucky, drive a car.  This means our brains send us messages when we look at food.  Too much and we may become overwhelmed.  Too little a portion on too big a plate and we may feel irrationally deprived.  Avoid this.  Buy small dishes and plates.  Use small spoons.  It’s more fun, anyway. :)



PS – Life is busy. Things get crazy. I love my readers and don’t want you to miss out on anything. If you enjoy reading, consider subscribing for updates delivered to your inbox every 2 or 3 weeks, along with occasional exclusive content that won’t be posted to the blog.  Also, if you have a question, please contact me with it.  I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. heidiswift (at) gmail (dot) com


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  1. That “box first” strategy has definitely saved me a time or few. Usually I share instead, but when I’m traveling or eating out on my own the portion sizes kill me!

  2. How do you portion control milkshakes? Ie: it’s hard to fit them in a box and they don’t go well with water.

  3. AJ – you’re a riot. Ask for the kiddie size… or split with Nick!!

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