Portion Control (Part I): How to Control Your Portions at Home

This post is by OYS writer Melissa.

How to Control Your Portions at Home #organizeyourselfskinny #portioncontrol #weightloss

As I have stated numerous times, I don’t believe in diets.  A healthy lifestyle can be maintained by eating well most of the time and incorporating regular exercise into your life.  One of the most important strategies to master is portion control.  This is the first part of two posts about portion control; look for part two about using portion control in restaurants next week.

Why do you need to watch your portions?

Most of us overestimate what a serving of food is, whether it’s cereal, chicken breast, or pasta.  This can lead to unnecessary extra calories that can lead to weight gain or hinder your weight loss goals.  Most of these extra calories can be eliminated without you feeling hungry because you don’t need them in the first place.  Once you master portion control, you may find that you were taking in hundreds of extra calories for no reason!


Teaching Yourself Portion Control

I know, you are busy, and you don’t want to measure or weigh every morsel of food that you are going to eat.  You don’t have to…well, forever.  When you first start out practicing portion control, you will need to do some of this measuring and weighing to teach yourself what a serving of food actually looks like.  Once you do this for a while, you can put away the measuring cups and food scale, and eyeball it, but it’s good to pull them out from time to time to make sure you’re still on track with your servings.  For example, if you are having a bowl of cereal, look at the side of the box to see what one serving is because they are all different.  If it’s one cup, use a measuring cup and pour it into a bowl you usually use for eating cereal.  Notice what the bowl looks like with that serving in it.  Next, measure out one cup of skim milk and pour it on the cereal.  Again, take a minute to notice what it looks like in the bowl.  How long should you use measuring tools?  It will vary from person to person how quickly you become comfortable with this, but I think two weeks is a good idea.

Portion Control at Dinner

If you pack your lunch and snacks for work ahead of time, your portion control work is done for you, so I’m going to focus on dinner at home.  There are a few things you can do at dinner time to avoid eating larger portions than you need.

  • Fill your plate at the stove and then go sit at the table.  Don’t put bowls or platters of food on the table to avoid the temptation of seconds.  Getting up to go back to the stove for more should make you stop and think, “Hmmmm…am I really still hungry?”  If you don’t see more food, you probably won’t want it.
  • Fill your plate like this: half of the plate should consist of vegetables, the other half should be split equally between whole grains and lean protein.  They sell plates that have these portions labeled if you really struggle with this, but I don’t think they are necessary.
  • Leave two bites of food on your plate.  I struggle with this because I was raised to clean my plate (you know the whole, “There are starving kids in Africa” guilt trip), but that doesn’t mean you have to throw the food out.  It can be put into a leftovers container.

Finally, you can always have dessert, as long as you watch your portions.  Most ice cream containers tell us that a serving is 1/2 cup.  Have you ever blindly dished out a 1/2 cup of ice cream?  I know I haven’t.  But a 1/2 cup of ice cream will make you feel satisfied, rather than telling yourself you can’t have ice cream at all and then later ending up having a huge bowlful because you felt deprived.  You will be surprised how satisfying that 1/2 cup of ice cream can be.

Next week, look for my portion control tips when eating out at a restaurant!

What are some of your portion control tips when at home?

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  1. The “use a smaller plate/bowl” actually works for me when it comes to ice cream. We have big cereal bowls – which are great for soup, but the 1/2 cup serving always looks so tiny in them. Put it in a cute little dessert bowl then I don’t feel deprived.

  2. I am loving all the tips and tricks….keep them coming, I can use all I can get! Love everything about “Organize Yourself Skinny”…I am sure I am not the only number 1 fan, so just add me to the list!!!!

  3. I use a dessert fork when eating dinner. Smaller bites that take longer to “clean your plate” help me realize when I feel full and not keep eating.

  4. This was so helpful! I really struggle with portion control! I don’t eat junk food but the pounds can sure pile up if you are eating double what you’re supposed to eat! The other night there was only about a half cup icecream left in the container and I was so bummed but I ate it and I was so surprised how satisfied I was! For me, portion control is probably my biggest challenge. Thanks for the tips!


  1. […] In case you missed Part 1 of my Portion Control post, you can go back and read it here. […]

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