Weight Loss Support - How did you learn portion control?

05-27-2010, 12:55 AM
Hi everyone!!

I was just wondering if anyone has a good way of learning portion control? I bought a food scale and it has helped me a lot, but I have a long way to go! I had just started a 1600 cal diet, but found out I was pregnant, and my OB has moved me to a 2100 cal diet. I know from my scale that my idea of the "right size" portion was all wrong, and restaurant sizes seem to be just enormous. Any tips and stories are very much appreciated!! Best wishes you you all!!!!

05-27-2010, 01:23 AM
For me the food scale help me a lot.. Before I would less because I always preferred to over estimate.

05-27-2010, 06:36 AM
How did you learn portion control?

Plain and simple - Calorie counting. For me, it could be nothing else. I've got a calorie budget that I adhere to - IT tells me how much I should be eating. Each meal has a pre-determined amount of calories in it. I take that much food on my plate and that's that. I break down my breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks to equal that of my calorie budget.

Your 2100 calorie diet may look something like this:

Breakfast - 400 calories
Lunch - 500 calories
Dinner - 600 calories
Snacks - either 3 of them at 200 calories each or some other way that you prefer to divide them up.

For me, calorie counting is automatic, built in accountability and portion control.

The great thing is, that you will eventually find a few breakfasts that add up to 400 calories, several lunches that will add up to 500 calories, a bunch of different dinners that add up to 600 calories and multiple snacks that add up to 200 calories - or whatever your breakdown turns out to be. When you get that down pat, you will just interchange them, switch them around and all the counting will have already been done for you.

05-27-2010, 08:37 AM
My mom taught me the "serving size as big as your palm". It helps me because I'm not always someplace where I can look at the calories of something or weigh it... but I know that ONE serving of something that could be 400 calories is better than accidentally two servings of the same. ;)

It might not be the most accurate way of doing something... but it has helped me keep my portions smaller... because I do have a tendancy to eat way more than I need to.

05-27-2010, 09:13 AM
With the lighter calorie fare - lettuce-y salads, lower calorie veggies such as spinach, cauliflower and mushrooms - weight/measurement accuracy is not AS important. If you're off by a thjird cup, well big deal, what is that like 25 calories or something, no big deal.

But on the calorie dense food, being wrong on your measurements and weights can really put a damper on your weight loss efforts. So with that stuff it really pays to try your best to be as accurate as possible and if I'm eating food that I haven't cooked - restaurant, social setting, work place, etc., I always hold to the rule - "when in doubt, do without".

05-27-2010, 09:29 AM
I've only just started, but I also find a good kitchen scale and calorie counting to be extremely helpful for portion control. I also sometimes just weigh how much I would be using "intuitively" and then check how much calorie it is - that will hopefully help me to find a way of cooking where I don't have to weigh everything all the time.

I used to be very scared of weighing my food and calorie counting - I always thought I'd end up with so few morsels of food that it would never fill me up... but when I cook something healthy with plenty of vegetables, I actually even often find I can't finish the portion my calorie allotment told me I could have. :D

Eating out - well, I live in Europe and after reading lots of threads on this forum I believe our restaurant portions are smaller anyway - I just make a healthy choice and then enjoy my food. I didn't get fat because I ate at a restaurant once a fortnight. :D

But of course if you are easily dragged off course by having a nice, non-calorie-counted dinner once in a while, you should follow rockinrobin's advice and avoid it completely.

05-27-2010, 09:40 AM
Calorie counting helped me learn portion control

I also read labels before I purchase food at the grocery store. I look at the calories, serving size, sugar, dietary fiber, protein, fat (saturated), and the whole package. A 330 calories ice cream bar is not going to fill me up nor is it a great way to spend my 1200 calories for the day :^:

05-27-2010, 10:08 AM
I use measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a scale, depending on the food. You just have to get used to doing it. After awhile you'll be better able to estimate, but at first the best way to go is to measure everything in some way. That way you get practiced at it.


Beach Patrol
05-27-2010, 10:49 AM
I have laminated cards that helped me with portion control. (Made them myself) - I took a single card from a regular deck of cards (the Queen of Hearts, if it matters!) which represents a piece of meat (chicken breast, pork chop, steak, whatever) and a picture of a couple of dice for a single serving of cheese, a hockey puck for a "handful" of nuts, etc. After a while I learned to eyeball it pretty good.

HOWEVER - my problem is that I WANT MORE FOOD! - So even tho I know what "a serving size is"... I often would get more anyway. So portion control to me, is easy. But it's like Nike. I have to JUST DO IT. :^:

05-27-2010, 11:09 AM
The thing that has helped me other than the scale, was to buy a divided dinner plate. Corelle makes nice divided plates that are not embarrassing to use like a child's plate or something LOL. You can buy them at wal-mart in the individual dish section. I fill the largest section with vegetables that are not starchy and the two smaller sections are for a starch and 4 oz meat. Palm sized servings fit perfectly in these sections.
Congrats on the pregnancy! ;)

05-27-2010, 11:55 AM
Like so many others I learned it through calorie counting and weighing foods. It is also is -really- important to read the nutritional info for restaurants since they seem to sneak a lot of fat and sugar into their food. To be really successful I started cooking for myself more. It is so easy to get proper calorie counts when you are cooking for yourself and difficult to get suitable, satisfying meals from restaurants or even diet frozen meals.

I still eat a good volume of food (though not as much), by eating a lot of vegetables and fruits and moderate amounts of lean protein, low fat dairy, and whole wheat carbs. The more you calorie count the better sense you get for how much you should be eating and what foods you need to watch more.

05-27-2010, 12:06 PM
Salad plates for dinner plates and even childrens plates/bowls. You can often find smaller plates, bowls. The only thing I use a big bowl for is when I make a large salad.

05-27-2010, 12:09 PM
Practice, practice, practice. I've weighed and measured things for so long that I can now eyeball like you wouldn't believe. DH is always shocked that I can eyeball a portion size of meat- weigh it, and find out I was right. Almost every single time. It gives me a lot more confidence when eating away from hme. But, the (food) scale and measuring cups will be your best friend.

05-27-2010, 01:23 PM
The thing that has helped me other than the scale, was to buy a divided dinner plate. Corelle makes nice divided plates that are not embarrassing to use like a child's plate or something LOL. You can buy them at wal-mart in the individual dish section. I fill the largest section with vegetables that are not starchy and the two smaller sections are for a starch and 4 oz meat. Palm sized servings fit perfectly in these sections.
Congrats on the pregnancy! ;)

I found those dishes too and LOVE them! Mostly because I hate for my food to touch LOL but it works for portion control too

05-27-2010, 01:41 PM
I found that my body has started to teach me how to make sure I eat sensible portions. In the bginning it was very hard to monitor my portion sizes, especially if I was at a party or out with friends etc. But after weeks and weeks of making sure my portions were small eventually my stomach begin to shrink and now I fill up more quickly than I used to, which means I consume much less food then I did before.

But to start off, I changed plate bowl sizes, I measured, weighed and did pretty much every thing I could do to make sure I was eating the correct portions for me. I concsiously eat slower, so I fill up more quickly and I drink plenty of water to help me from feeling hungry so I don't overeat.

05-27-2010, 02:43 PM
Already some great advice, but a big thing for me is eating the serving on the box.

So if my yogurt calories is 100 for 100g. I weigh out 100g and eat only that. If the calories on the milk is for 1 cup, I drink 1 cup (or less if its in cereal). This is the only way for me to do portion sizes. If the pasta is for 85g, I weigh 85g. If the cheese is for 30g, I eat 30g. If the box says 10 crackers is 90 calories, I eat 10 - not 12. I just find this easiest for me.

I don't ALWAYS eat the full amount, stuff like cheese or pasta I will eat less of. Or somethings more yogurt, but I use the serving on the box as my serving size. Of course only on good days - there are times when I am bad and I don't weigh. I just recently bought a digital scale, best $20 I ever spent.

05-27-2010, 02:55 PM
I usually compare the portions on the label to what the Canada Food Guide calls for... it's posted on my fridge. Since I count calories I also often figure out how many portions of certain things I can get away with :P Things like cottage cheese, milk, eggs, and crackers... for whatever reason they're my weaknesses.

05-27-2010, 03:31 PM
First, congrats on your pregnancy!! It sounds like your doctor is helping you plan well to maximize the health of your baby but minimize excess weight gain. (When you start off bigger, it's perfectly fine for the baby if you don't gain much as long as you are eating high quality calories).

As for portions, while I hesitate to recommend processed foods, I have to say that eating Lean Cuisines was a big help for me in re-setting my concept of portion size. I haven't been eating them this time, but I have in the past and I think that I was able to adjust my mental size of a portion a bit better. When you first start eating something like that, they seem tiny but esp. if you add extra veggies and/or a salad, they really can fill you up. But I do think it's healthier to not eat such heavily processed foods, so I think it comes down to using your food scale constantly and training yourself in the same way that Lean Cuisines helped me. Even when you make your own food, portion it out properly and then put the rest away. Promise yourself that even if it looks like not that much food, you can have more to eat if you are really hungry 30 minutes later. Chances are very, very good you won't be! But if you are, add some extra veggies or a piece of fruit to your meal, and you should start finding a good balance of calories that fits in your budget of 2100 and keeps you happy.

And yes, please completely ignore restaurant sizes! What you get on a plate for a single meal at a restaurant is frequently 2, 3 or even more servings.

05-27-2010, 04:16 PM
Measuring cups and my normal plates/bowls. I poured water into the cup and the half cup, then poured them into my bowl, so I could SEE what a one-cup serving looked like, and what a half-cup serving looked like.

Took Play-Doh and put it in half a cup, then took it out and mounded it on my plate as if it's a pile of pasta or veggies. Same with one cup. (let Play-Doh dry so you have a permanent reminder!)

05-27-2010, 05:43 PM
Portion control for me means to put 1 burger on my plate instead of automatically 2...I think since I started doing that several years back I have never had 2!

Making my plate in the kitchen instead of putting the food on the table, saving me from picking at it....

Eating chips out of a bowl instead of the bag....and putting the bag away after I fill my small bowl!

Realizing that when a recipe calls for 1/2 pound of cheese that doesn't mean I have to automatically double it!

05-27-2010, 08:46 PM
Thanks everybody for all the wonderful suggestions!!!! I am going to work on the calorie counting, and I'm doing good on the scale, it really helps! I went out and bought the little measuring spoons that measure Tbl and tsp, and i think they are going to come in handy! I am also going to go to Walmart this weekend and look for the divided plates, I didn't ever think of that, but I know I can do it! I will keep working at it!! THANKS SOOOO MUCH EVERYBODY!!!!!

05-27-2010, 09:45 PM

I'm PCOS/IR and so far warding off Type II for 10 years.


05-27-2010, 11:01 PM
This sounds crazy, but I used to get really, really agitated when there was something I couldn't count. It took ten years for it to occur to me that when I can't count it accurately, I can (and should) opt to not eat it. It's like my brain always made the choice to eat something first, and once that had been decided I couldn't "go back" on that choice when I realized that for whatever reason, it would be hard to count accurately.

Now, if I am stuck in a situation where I need to eat something and have to make a spur-of-the-minute choice, my FIRST consideration is "what can I count?" I only think about "What looks healthy?" and "what looks good?" AFTER I've narrowed it down.