Weight Loss Wednesday: The Portion Police

Summer is coming people. You know what that means? Swimsuit season and the exposure of fleshy bits so whitened by winter that they are darn near reflective. Feeling excited yet? Well, before you go crawling back under your covers in fright, let me just say that if you are feeling behind in your “summer body prep” that all is not lost. You still have a solid two months to go before you have to bid good-bye to those protective layers of clothing and sally bravely forth into spandex land. You’ve got this, but to succeed you’re going to need a plan. What sort of a plan? Well, you definitely should think about some exercise for sure, but you’re also going to need to control yourself- this means portion control.

Flip box, read portion, control yourself.

Flip box, read portion, control yourself.

Portions are a weird world. The food industry has raised us to believe that this mythical “portion” thingy is equivalent to whatever they put in a bag, box or can. When this doesn’t seem quite right, and we buy the “family-sized” or “economy” containers of foods, we usually just equate a “portion” to be the amount we feel like eating or however much we can consume before our consciences or stomachs remind us that we’ve probably had enough. However, the reality is that neither the food industry nor our emotions/ stomachs are reliable judges when it comes to appropriate portion sizes.


So how much is a portion? Well that all depends. If you’re eating something prepackaged, flip the package over and have a look at the nutrition label, the portion size will be on the back. If you’re picking up something that doesn’t have a built in guide on the side, you can use your hands to estimate portion sizes for different foods (see the chart below). Starch? Half a cup or one cupped hand. Fats are 2 Tbsp (or thumbs) if its something like peanut butter and one if it’s a liquid. Cheese? One ounce or two stacked dice- again like a thumb’s worth. Lean meats are a palm or a deck of cards, if you play frequently.

Smaller Plates- Wansink & Van Ittersum, 2014.jpg

If the portion sizes thing is fighting you and it’s too hard to resist the temptation to load your plate, try using a smaller plate. No really, I am serious. I know you think it sounds weird, but you likely wont miss the larger plate.  By controlling your portions and eating only what you need or what fills your (now smaller) plate, you’ll be reducing the total amount of food you take in and therefore the number of calories you’re taking in. This means weight loss and a less lumpy look in your beach gear.  Stay tubed for more fun next week as I help you rev up your diet in another fun-filled weight loss Wednesday.