What's Your Portion Personality?
Problems with Portions?
For example, you might be an All-Day Snacker.
Portion Problem: Snacks go straight from box or bag to mouth. A handful here, a handful there...who's counting?
All-Day Snacker Solutions
- Here's the beef: Cuts at supermarkets look like cuts at steak houses—too big. Even leaner tenderloins average about 8 ounces. Grill your steak of choice, let it rest a bit, and then thinly slice. Take a few pieces for dinner (weigh them until you can eyeball the portion), and save the leftovers for lunch. One 14-ounce steak will yield 3 full servings of meat.
- Slice a 10-ounce supermarket chicken breast in half lengthwise into two 5-ounce cutlets (they'll cook faster, too). Or try a thigh, a smaller, juicier choice with only 1 additional gram of sat fat per ounce.
- Try the smaller-plate trick. Those smaller cuts won't look so diminutive on 8-inch lunch plates.
- Buy bone-in. Bones take up space and weight (and sometimes add flavor), so there is less meat to eat.
Sweet Tooth Solutions
- If you like candy bars, buy a bag of the mini size. 1 regular-size candy bar equals about 9 minis, which can easily be divided into 3 calorie-reasonable snacks.
- Precut goodies in the pan or pie plate. An 8-inch pan divided into 16 pieces yields a brownie with 44% fewer calories than a pan divided by 9.
- Hide the candy. Out of sight, out of mind. Better yet: Put your stash where you have to walk to get a handful.
- Mini ice-cream cups are perfect ½-cup portions. If you prefer to dip from the gallon container, use a scoop (it dishes out a ½-cup serving).
Social Butterfly Solutions
- The USDA recommends no more than one drink a day for women, two for men. That's 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Most bars use 1.5-ounce shots, but if yours doesn't, just ask. If you're having more than one, alternate with seltzer and lime, or spiced-up tomato juice.
- Another use for that shot glass: It holds one portion of mixed nuts (170 calories).
- For beer, sip an 8-ounce glass of craft-brew draft. It's much more satisfying than two ultralight pints, with about the same amount of alcohol.
- Wine with dinner? Restaurants like to pour liberally and equitably around the table. Either order by the glass—asking for 5 ounces—or tell the sommelier to go easy.
Granola Guy Solutions
- A box of pasta serves 8 to 10 people, not 4. One cup of cooked noodles is one serving. Load your plate with salad first, and then add the pasta.
- Pour cereal into a coffee mug instead of a bowl, and you'll be less likely to overeat. It's the right vessel for a serving of cereal (which varies; check label) and ½ cup low-fat milk.
- A typical hoagie or sub roll is three to four servings of bread. Hollow out the center, and you'll cut that almost in half.
- When brown-bagging, make sure you're using a zip-top sandwich bag. At 5 inches square, sandwich bags are sized right for loaf bread. Quart-sized storage bags measure 7 inches—too big.
- Freehanding the oil can add 240 calories to a dish—a lot if it's supposed to serve only two. Use a measuring spoon until your eyeballing is accurate. Ditto with butter.
- And ditto with salt. When we asked 12 people to freehand a pinch of salt, they added 180mg of sodium on average, 500 at worst. Work on your pinching, and don't pour directly from the salt container—keep a pinch bowl on the counter.
- Know your sodium sources: fish sauce, sambals, pickles, etc.
- Buy one of those nifty little digital scales. It's truly an eye-opener to see what an ounce of Parm, an ounce of bacon, and an ounce of chocolate look like.
- Portion carbs onto plates—rice, pasta, whole grains, mashed potatoes. Know what a serving is, and use a measuring cup.