9 Tips to Measure and Control Portion Sizes

Obesity is a growing epidemic, as more people than ever are struggling to control their weight.

Increased portion sizes are thought to contribute to overeating and unwanted weight gain .

Research indicates that many factors can influence how much you eat.

People tend to eat almost all of what they serve themselves. Therefore, controlling portion sizes can help prevent overindulging .

Here are 9 tips to measure and control portion sizes — both at home and on the go.

1. Use Smaller Dinnerware

Evidence suggests that sizes of plates, spoons and glasses can unconsciously influence how much food someone eats .

For example, using large plates can make food appear smaller — often leading to overeating.

In one study, people using a large bowl ate 77% more pasta than those using a medium-sized bowl .

In another study, nutritional experts served themselves 31% more ice cream when given larger bowls and 14.5% more when provided with larger serving spoons .

Interestingly, most people who ate more due to large dishes were completely unaware of the change in portion size .

Therefore, swapping your usual plate, bowl or serving spoon for a smaller alternative can reduce the helping of food and prevent overeating.

Most people feel just as full having eaten from a smaller dish as from a large one.

SUMMARY

Simply using smaller dishes or glasses can lower the amount of food or drink you consume. What’s more, people tend to feel just as satisfied.

2. Use Your Plate as a Portion Guide

If measuring or weighing food isn’t appealing, try using your plate or bowl as a portion control guide.

This can help you determine the optimal macronutrient ratio for a well-balanced meal.

A rough guide for each meal is:

  • Vegetables or salad: Half a plate
  • High-quality protein: Quarter of a plate — this includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and pulses
  • Complex carbs: Quarter of a plate — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • High-fat foods: Half a tablespoon (7 grams) — including cheese, oils and butter

Remember that this is a rough guide, as people have different dietary needs. For example, those who are more physically active often require more food.

As vegetables and salad are naturally low in calories but high in fiber and other nutrients, filling up on these may help you avoid overeating calorie-dense foods.

If you want extra guidance, some manufacturers sell portion-control plates.

SUMMARY

Using a plate as a guide for portion control can help you curb total food intake. You can divide your plate into sections based on different food groups.