Portion Awareness


“I didn’t realize how much I was eating!” I’ve heard it over and over from people having successes in working toward their healthy weight.  It’s easy to be unaware of the amount of food we pile on–especially if we just tend to eat what’s in front of us without paying attention to how much is there or how big the plate is to begin with.

We are creatures of habit, which can backfire on us if we aren’t paying attention. Our body has different energy demands each day, some days we need to eat more while other times our bodies require less. With a little thought about portion sizes we can form new and improved habits for health.

  • Find smaller plates, bowls, and cups. When we eat from a bigger plate we are tempted to fill it up. Instead choose smaller sizes to keep portion sizes in check.
  • Use visual cues. Did you know you carry around a measuring cup with you everywhere you go? Your hands are perfect for sizing up your servings! Chomp on veggies, fruits, and grains that are about the size of your fist. The palm (and thickness) of your hand is about the size of a serving of protein. And the tip of your thumb measures a serving of mayo, dressing, or oil.
  • Rearrange the plate. At most meals, go for half a plate of produce (or two fists), a fist of grains, and a palm of protein. This meal mix allows for satisfaction and a greater variety of good for you nutrients.
  • Have regular meals and snacks. Large meals will lose their popularity when we realize that we can feed ourselves whenever we become hungry. No starvation in the name of weight loss–I hate being hungry and I’m sure you do, too!  Eat smaller meals and snacks in between. 
  • Keep the serving dishes off the table (aka bread basket). We tend to unconsciously sneak more food when it is right in front of us, so avoid the temptation by serving food from the kitchen and transporting your plate to the table.

Becoming aware of how much we are eating is a step in the right direction for forming healthier habits. Raise your fists, how do your portions measure up?

Tara Collingwood
Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and is quoted in a variety of media including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and websites.

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