One of the hardest things about dieting is practicing good portion control. When you limit the amount of food you eat, it’s easy to feel like you’re depriving yourself, and that could lead to frustration, and even to giving up. It’s not easy to limit the amount of food you eat to a healthy level, but it’s possible to do so and to feel satiated, as long as you plan carefully and make sure to stick to your plan. And by controlling your portions, you can also keep better track of your weight loss plan and make sure that you reach your goal.
Learning how to eyeball a portion can be very helpful in practicing portion control. A portion of meat, chicken, or fish should be about the size of a deck of cards. A portion of fruits or vegetables should be the size of a tennis ball. A serving of grains should be about the same size. A serving of cheese should be about the size of a domino. And a serving of chopped greens, yogurt, or milk should also be about the size of a tennis ball.
Once you have a better idea of what a portion should look like, the trick to portion control is to actually eat an adequate portion. If all you ate was one portion of each item for every meal, you’d end up with too much of some nutrients and not enough of others. You should try to get 6-11 servings of grain, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of dairy, and 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, and nuts. You can add in some sweets, fats, and oils, but do so very sparingly, and try not to have them every day, and certainly not with every meal.
One of the keys to portion control is simply to pay attention to what you eat and how much of it you’re eating. If you’re sitting at a table, eating family style, it can be tempting to load your plate so that you don’t have to ask for seconds. But you should know how much you should allow yourself to eat of various foods. Practice moderation, and only take as much food on your plate as you know you should eat. Eat only the food on your plate and when you’re done, you’re done. If you’re still hungry, try drinking a full glass of water. The brain can sometimes confuse hunger with thirst.
The unsung hero of portion control is not food, but water. By drinking eight 8-oz. glasses of water every day, you’re keeping your body hydrated, and can also help to keep yourself feeling full so that you keep your appetite under control. This is crucial to making sure that you don’t substitute food for water. Many people suffer from dehydration and don’t even know it. Once you feel thirsty, you’re already on the road to dehydration. Preemptively drinking water throughout the day will keep you from getting to this point.