Too Much of a Good Thing – Portion Control

July 13th, 2010 | Lucinda Moeller | 1 Comment »

Like the majority of Americans, I find myself sporting a few extra pounds these days. Although I mostly eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, those extra pounds have crept up on me over the past few years. And, as we all know, the only way to get rid of excess weight is to exercise more and eat less. For the exercising more part of the equation, I’ve committed to doing some sort of exercise for at least one hour every single day. As for the eating less part of the equation, that is the subject of this blog post – portion control.

Grocery store shelves are full of 100-calorie and single-serve packages of everything these days. Those packages are so easy and tempting. I have been purchasing single serve fruit cups, single serve packages of trail mix and single serve cereal boxes. While this does cut down on my calorie consumption, it creates an enormous amount of waste from all that packaging. Looking over my grocery cart, I decided that there must be a better way.

There is a better way, though it requires a bit more effort. Here are some of my strategies for controlling portion sizes without creating huge amounts of trash:

Start by studying labels. Figure out exactly what is a healthy portion size of your favorite foods. We often think we are eating only one portion, but a look at the label tells us otherwise. A good example is those orange juice containers you might pick up at the gas station on your way to work. Look at the back and you see 110 calories per serving. This sounds great until you figure out that a serving is only half the bottle.

Do the Math. You may have to do some math to find out exactly how much product equals the desired number of calories. For example, my favorite trail mix has 150 calories per ¼ (.25) cup. To figure exactly how much trail mix equals 200 calories, the math looks like this: 200/150=1.333 x.25=.333 or 1/3 cup. Not a math whiz? Use an online recipe size converter like this one to figure out how to scale your portion sizes. Put in the number you know in the first box (150), the number desired in the second box (200) and it will give you the scale factor (1.333). Multiply the scale factor with your original serving size 1.333x.25=.333

Measure it out and Split it Up – Get your measuring cups out! Or if you need to measure by weight, rather than volume, a small inexpensive kitchen scale comes in handy.

– Buy small reusable containers to split up larger amounts into serving size portions. I found packages of a dozen ¼ cup containers at the dollar store for a buck. These are the perfect size for most snacks.

With a small amount of effort you can save calories, save waste and save a lot of money by making your own portion sized containers of your favorite foods.