Managing Food Portions

In addition to checking food labels for calories per serving, keeping track of what you eat — as well as when, where, why, and how much you eat — may help you manage your food portions. 

How can I manage food portions at home? 

You don’t need to measure and count everything you eat or drink for the rest of your life. You may only want to do this long enough to learn typical serving and portion sizes.  

Try these ideas to help manage portions at home: 

  • Take one serving according to the food label and eat it off a plate instead of straight out of the box or bag. 
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV, while driving or walking, or while you are busy with other activities. 
  • Focus on what you are eating, chew your food well, and fully enjoy the smell and taste of your food. 
  • Eat slowly so your brain can get the message that your stomach is full, which may take at least 15 minutes. 
  • Use smaller dishes, bowls, and glasses so that you eat and drink less. 
  • Eat fewer high-fat, high-calorie foods, such as desserts, chips, sauces, and prepackaged snacks. 
  • Freeze food you won’t serve or eat right away if you make too much. That way, you won’t be tempted to finish the whole batch. If you freeze leftovers in single- or family-sized servings, you’ll have ready-made meals for another day. 
  • Eat meals at regular times. Leaving hours between meals or skipping meals altogether may cause you to overeat later in the day. 
  • Buy snacks, such as fruit or single-serving, prepackaged foods, that are lower in calories. 
  • If you buy bigger bags or boxes of snacks, divide the items into single-serve packages right away so you aren’t tempted to overeat. 

How can I manage portions when eating out? 

Although it may be easier to manage your portions when you cook and eat at home, most people eat out from time to time—and some people eat out often. Try these tips to keep your food portions in check when you are away from home: 

  • Share a meal with a friend or take half of it home. 
  • Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. 
  • Order one or two healthy appetizers or side dishes instead of a whole meal. Options include steamed or grilled—instead of fried—seafood or chicken, a salad with dressing on the side, or roasted vegetables. 
  • Ask to have the breadbasket or chips removed from the table. 
  • If you have a choice, pick the small-sized—rather than large-sized—drink, salad, or frozen yogurt. 
  • Stop eating and drinking when you’re full. Put down your fork and glass and focus on enjoying the setting and your company for the rest of the meal. 

Is getting more food for your money always a good value? 

Have you noticed that it costs only a few cents more to get the large fries or soft drinks instead of the regular or small size? Although getting the super-sized meal for a little extra money may seem like a good deal, you end up with more calories than you need for your body to stay healthy.  

Before you buy your next “value meal combo,” be sure you are making the best choice for your wallet and your health. 

Source: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases