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5 Strategies for Effortless Portion Control

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5 simple strategies for effortless portion control to help you reach or maintain your healthy, happy weight.

5 Strategies for Effortless Portion Control - The Lemon Bowl

We made it to week three of the Healthy New Year 6-Week Challenge! How are you feeling? I am down five more pounds since Christmas so I would like to personally thank all of you for being so active with the #HealthyNewYear Challenge!

Healthy New Year 6-Week Challenge Logo - The Lemon Bowl

When Dara and I originally created a Facebook group for the challenge, we never imagined it would turn into such an active online community. We loving the daily interaction, success stories, and words of encouragement being exchanged in there so keep it up!

Since we’ve already tackled staying hydrated and being active, it’s time to move on to my next favorite subject: portion control. Ok I’m kidding, who loves portion control? I certainly don’t. And if you’ve read my weight loss story, you know that healthy eating was never a problem growing up – it was eating too much of that healthy food.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned losing over 65 pounds, it’s that you that you can not out train a poor diet. In fact, I often say that the secret to weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise. Don’t quote me on that, it’s just my hunch based on my personal experience.

Wall Squats - The Lemon Bowl

The good news? It’s a whole heckuva lot easier to eat clean and watch portions that do wall squats in boot camp. Ouch.

What are 5 strategies for effortless portion control?

Invest in Smaller Plates:

We eat with our eyes before we even take the first bite of food. I don’t know about you, but two tablespoons of hummus looks a lot less depressing on a smaller plate filled with veggies and seedy crackers. Dara recently introduced me to Q Squared NYC’s Round Ruffle collection and I am in love with the appetizer plates shown above.

Snack-Sized Bags:

We spend most mornings outside of the house at playdates or the gym so when we finally get home for lunch, the boys are frantic monsters ready for food and a nap, stat. Since I usually don’t get to sit down for lunch until 1pm or later, I like to keep snack-sizes baggies of nuts in my car to eat on the drive home. They are the perfect size for the one ounce portion of nuts.Snack Sized Baggies - The Lemon Bowl

Make Veggies the Star of the Show:

One reason I cook so much ethnic food is because it is often naturally more nutritious and vegetable-centric than the standard meat and potatoes American diet. Whether it’s these Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups, a bowl of Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken and Cauliflower or a steaming bowl of Mexican Chicken Posole, find inspiration from around the world and make veggies the star of the plate.Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups

Use a Food Diary for One Week:

Whether you are looking to lose weight or simply want to maintain, I am a big fan of using an online food diary. If you’ve never weighed out a 2 ounce portion of pasta or a 5 ounce glass of wine, you might be surprised to see what a proper portion looks like. (Another reason why I love the Ruffle collection from Q Squared NYC.) By keeping a food diary and measuring portions for just one week, you’ll be able to eyeball four ounces of chicken or a tablespoon of peanut butter making it easy to keep servings in check.Calorie Tracker - The Lemon Bowl

Cook At Home More Frequently: 

One of the hands-down easiest ways to ensure proper portions is to simply cook at home more frequently. No matter what, whenever you eat out you are likely going to consume more calories, fat, and sodium than you would have you prepared the dish at home. And if you’re looking for fun new dishes, I’d like to add that Q Squared NYC’s dishware is BPA-Free, made from high-quality melamine (toddler-proof!) and is dishwasher safe. I am crushing on the Victorian green plates!!Q Squared Victorian Collection

Weighing Nuts - The Lemon Bowl

Ok it’s your turn – what are your best tips for keeping portions in check? Do you take half of your meal home when you eat out? Split an entree with your spouse? Let’s hear your best ideas!

Your fork is waiting.

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Liz DellaCroce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

35 Comments

  1. Great tips! I only eat out 1-2 times a week for health, but budget reasons also. It makes a huge difference. I am so bad with my portion control when it comes to nut butters…LOL…I always do a “spoonful” every morning. Hey there are worse things I could be eating! ;)

  2. Great post as always Liz. I am always confused when it comes to ‘dry’ ingredients such as rice pasta and quinoa. What is a correct portion size? 2 oz raw or cooked?
    Would really appreciate some guidance with this. Cheers

  3. There are so many fantastic tips here, Liz! Portion control is one of the hardest things for me, but is also one of the things that makes the biggest difference in how my body feels (and how my clothes fit).

  4. Thanks so much for sharing…great tips! I’ve been considering getting smaller plates, so now will follow through! Question…what are those seedy crackers? They look amazing! My portion control tip…my husband’s great aunt used to live with us, and at 102 she didn’t eat much. So now I’m trying to give myself what I would have given her, vs. what I normally portion for myself…amazing difference! It’s just a visual image that helps. You could also substitute the size of your kids portion for yourself, instead of Aunt Mary’s portion control system!

  5. I am a big fan of weighing and measuring portions. I haven’t been doing that much lately, and it shows in my inability to lose any more weight. I already use smaller plates when I can.

    My husband and I used to split portions at restaurants, but since we are trying to make sure we take in enough protein we no longer do that. But we do make sure to order things that are right-sized portions and lower calorie. The only time we end up taking food home is if we order pizza. Those are always too big for us to eat the whole thing.

  6. I am ALL about the small plate trick!! It makes a HUGE difference. I also think that because I cook from scratch, I have a better idea (and control) over what a portion size should be. For instance, if I make something that’s four servings, then as I’m serving it, I mentally split it into quarters as I put it on each plate – and I DON’T go back for seconds!

  7. I second it is what you eat! I’ve noticed since having baby number two the weighT JusT Doesn’t fall off like with number one. I’ve been watching my portions and only dessert once a week. I developed a serious sweet tooth after #2!

  8. Thanks for the great suggestions, Liz! I do take half my meal home when we go out to eat! I ask for a to go box right away, so I’m not tempted to eat more of it! The snack bag idea is great too. I used to do that a long time ago–measure or weigh the snack and write the points value on it. Then I’d put them in a basket on the counter. I need to do that again!!

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