Try these healthy and easy portion control tips

Hi, friends! Happy Thursday to you on the last day of the month! Wow. Where does the time go? Speaking of time, a while back, I wrote some posts for my friends over at the Wine Sisterhood, and they were kind enough to let me share a little bit of that content with you right here on A Lady Goes West. I hope you enjoy …

Healthy and easy portion control tips via A Lady Goes West

So you’re exercising and choosing healthy foods, but did you know there is something that could be sabotaging all of your efforts? Portion-control! (And this is one of those things that I know we all struggle with. #AmIRight?)

Occasionally, we eat and drink way more than we should without even knowing it. With restaurants serving huge dinner plates and food coming in large packages, how are you even supposed to know what’s the right amount to eat without being armed with a measuring cup at all times? It’s like the world is against us, when it comes to keeping our eats in check.

Well, I’ve got you covered, and believe it or not, you’re already armed with all the tools you need, no matter where you are …

Check your portions using your own hands

You can use your own hands to measure out your food and make sure you choose the right serving for you, even while dining out.

Here are some “handy” tips to keep your plate in check at each meal: 

  • For protein, like fish or meat – Use the palm of your hand, not including your fingers or thumb. This could also be equal to the size of a deck of cards.
  • For starchy carbs, like potatoes and pasta – Make a fist with your hand. This could also equal the size of a tennis ball.
  • For fruit and vegetables – Cup your hand with fingers rounded up. This handful is one serving of fruit. You should double that and eat two servings of vegetables. (I sometimes even go with three servings of veggies, depending on what I’ve got around.)
  • For chips, popcorn and pretzels – Use two cupped handfuls.
  • For fats like oils, mayo and butter – Use the tip of your thumb, from just above your first knuckle.
  • For cheese, cream cheese and salad dressing – Use your whole thumb. This could also equal to the size of six dice. 
  • And if you’re a wine drinker: For wine – The standard serving for wine is five ounces. This one can be tricky to eyeball depending on the size of the glass, but think about the area of your hand between your thumb and forefinger when they are extended, or once again, use your fist. When pouring into a red wine glass, you should stop when the wine reaches the “bell” or the widest part of the glass. (And by the way, one 750ml bottle of wine will contain about five, five-ounce pours. So, if you like to enjoy a glass a night, know that one bottle should last you five nights.)

For food, it looks sort of like this …

Portion control tips via A Lady Goes WestThis is a look at a recent dinner of mine. The veggies/fruits include asparagus and tomato, the healthy fat is an avocado, the starchy carb is a whole wheat bun, and the protein/meat is a grilled turkey burger.

Easy enough, right?

Other tips for healthy portion control

In addition to keeping track of your portions, here are a few other things you can do to make sure you’re not going overboard:

  • Take your time. Slow down and eat mindfully, so you know when you’re actually full. Maybe you can ask your friend or significant other to tell you a great story, and try to not finish eating until he/she is done with it.
  • Go halfsies. When dining out at a restaurant, ask your server to bring you half of the portion and immediately box the second portion up for leftovers so you aren’t tempted to eat it all at once. Or better yet, split an entrée with a friend.
  • Think small. When eating at home, serve your meals on salad plates to keep your portions in check. It’s more visually pleasing to eat from a full plate, even if that plate is small.
  • Close it up. Never eat straight out of a big package in your kitchen or on-the-go. Always pull out one serving and put the package away to avoid temptation. (Now this is the one, I have a super hard time with, because I mean, who can eat just one or two handfuls of trail mix? Not this lady.)

I’m a food lover and look forward to every single meal, so I’m never going to be religious about measuring every single thing I eat. However, I do believe that knowledge is power. And so is moderation. Don’t strive to restrict, strive to nourish. And now for my biggest healthy living advice of the day? Eat right (most of the time), move around a lot (but always get a rest day), and enjoy some treats on the regular.

Most of all, have a great last day in April, people. Today, I’m teaching several Orangetheory classes, as well as attending the studio’s big grand opening party tonight. I’ll see you back here to start the month of May off strong with some “Friday Favorites.”

Questions of the day

What type of food can you never have enough of?

Do you have any other portion-control tips?

How was your month of April?

Ashley signature



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    1. Yup, that’s also helpful. So you’re not standing over the bag, like I mentioned above. Trail mix gets me every time! hahaha:) Happy Thursday, Megan.

    1. Hi Carrie! Fruit is the best kind of sugar to get into your system, but make sure you also get some veggies alongside that fruit heheh. Happy Thursday and happy eating to you!

  1. These are great tips. I know my downfall is portion control. I’m constantly looking at other people’s plates trying to figure out how much to take. That doesn’t work when “other people” is usually my 6’2″ boyfriend.

    1. Hi Carissa, Well you can also gauge your portions off your hunger levels too, but that can be dangerous when you’re ravished! hahaah And yes, guys always seem to load up on a bit more! But that’s okay. Don’t look at his plate. 🙂 Happy eating, lady!

    1. Hi Sue! It just looks nicer to have a fuller plate. I use salad plates for sides and snacks too, to keep the portions smaller. But fill up a big plate for a full meal usually. Happy eating to you! 🙂

  2. Portion control is for sure my biggest problem. I struggle with it daily and I know it is the leading force in why I don’t see the results I want to see. Thank you for the tips. And Happy Friday Eve to you my friend.

    1. Hi Courtney! Because food is so good and we want to eat ALL of it. Right? heheh! Your little containers probably help a lot, especially with the color coding — if you use those a lot. 🙂 Hope you have a great day! You’re famous with that AC “LIKE.”

  3. Awesome Ashley, I’ve definitely never heard about the glass of wine one! That is so hard to tell, but so important to know! Whenever I cook a giant yam, I can’t not eat the whole thing and violate the fist rule (oops!) but I think with time you get eye-balling down pat. I always measure my oatmeal, otherwise it just gets too soupy!

    1. Well I don’t think a single bar or restaurant serves just ONE serving of wine, and we don’t want them too. The point is to be able to know that you’re usually drinking a couple of servings at a time hehhee. And that’s okay! Who doesn’t love wine? 🙂 Happy eating to you! And yes, I violate the starchy carbs rule, but only for my good complex carbs, or during a Mexican food-fest on the weekend. 🙂 Moderation!

  4. That burger plate, mmmmm!

    I don’t have a problem with portion control because I stop when I feel satisfied and eat a pretty solid 80/20 diet, but these are great tips for those searching for ideas!

  5. I use a food scale a lot to help with portions. Much easier than counting out individual pretzels, etc. And for wine, my handy trick is to measure five ounces of water and pour it into a separate wine glass, then as I pour the wine, I compare it side by side to the water glass. That way I don’t have to wash the measuring cup since it was only water!

    1. Hahha Delia! You are genius! I’ve never been that precise with my wine measuring hehe. And for food? I know people have a lot of success with scales, but that’s another thing I haven’t tried. Nice work! Have a fabulous night!

  6. Great tips Ashley! I especially love the one about taking away half of your meal from the outset, although I’m not sure the instagram photo would be as pretty 😉
    I am definitely with you when it comes to putting portions into a bowl or onto a plate. Even if I know I will probably go for a second serving I will always portion out.
    When I was breastfeeding, and still for work, I will portion my snacks out into ziplock bags so that I am not tempted to eat EVERYTHING. It works a treat! xx

    1. Hi Krissy! That’s so helpful. It’s hard not to eat more than you need when you enjoy a snack or are bored. Right? Have a fabulous day, my friend! 🙂 Happy eating!

  7. What are you up to this weekend?
    Church! Family time. Fellowship Meal. 🙂 I babysat some children too. That was crazy..

    What’s a favorite of yours as of late?
    Trying new recipes on Pinterest from bloggers! 🙂

    What was the last concert you attended?
    About a month ago. It was a family band, and I loved it!

    1. Hi Emily! Sounds like you’re having a most wonderful weekend. And trying new Pinterest recipes? Always a good time! Hope the rest of your Sunday is lovely.

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