What is a Portion Anyway?

What is a Portion Anyway?
by Jackie Foskett, CH

In the arena of weight loss or, as I think of it, weight release , it’s important to understand what a portion is. Overeating is a common problem and many of my Weight Release clients come to their first session aware that their portions are out of control. Although they may be eating healthy foods, they are consuming too much for the body to burn off and are therefore unable to release excess fat and weight. One of the keys to weight loss is portion control—a “left” brain strategy. In a future issue, I’ll also address using the “right” brain to know when we’ve had enough to eat. In addition, it’s helpful to understand our core reasons for eating unconsciously, such as using food to fulfill unmet needs, as we strive to release excess weight and fat.

Here are some easy ways to assess what a portion is without using measuring tools:

Portion Control—Using Hand to Estimate
Fist = Approximately 1 cup or 1 medium whole fruit
Thumb (tip to base) = 1 ounce of meat or cheese
Thumb tip (tip to 1st joint) = 1 Tablespoon
Fingertip (tip to 1st joint) = 1 Teaspoon
Index finger (1st to 2nd joint) = 1 inch
Cupped hand = 1 to 2 ounces of nuts or pretzels
Palm (minus fingers) = 3 ounces of cooked meat, fish, or poultry

Portion sizes for most vegetables and fruits:

Serving sizes of vegetables & fruits (goal: 5-9 per day)
Leafy vegetables like lettuce & spinach
1 serving = 1 cup
All other fruits & vegetables
1 serving = 1/2 cup

Here’s one way to determine what goes on your plate:

The Plate method
Divide your plate into 4 quarters
1/4 with grain-based (whole grains) side dish
1/4 with a protein
1/2 with 2-3 high fiber, low cal type veggies & fruit

Do you know what constitutes a portion of popular “comfort” foods or foods that tend to be eaten in large quantities?

Portions of popular comfort foods
Pasta = 1 cup
Rice, white or brown = 1 cup
Mashed potatoes = ½ cup
Ice cream = ½ cup
Chocolate candy = 1 ounce
Chips = 12-14 chips

These are just a few examples. The point is that a portion of higher calorie foods is quite small. If you spend a few minutes at every meal evaluating your portions, you will begin to take in less calories. You’ll no longer feel deprived of certain foods while igniting the process of releasing fat and weight from your body.

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