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Portion Control for Weight Management

Contrary to what you may think, the “serving sizes” you see on nutrition labels don’t always reflect how much you should be eating.

Why are portions important?

Obesity among Americans has officially reached an all-time high with FOUR out of every TEN adults in the United States having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher (based on reported height and weight data). Without change, we will continue to see this number RISE – as well as the number of correlated illnesses and diseases. Our goal at Balanced Wellness is to equip you with the right tools to make and see change if weight loss and/or weight management is your goal. Let’s highlight a relevant and helpful tool for everyone - portion control.

Why is portion control important?

  1. Research shows that people unintentionally eat more when presented with larger portions.

  2. Portions are individualized, meaning you can focus on balance rather than measurements!

“For better or for worse, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 requires that serving sizes listed on Nutrition labels reflect current eating habits — how much people actually eat as opposed to how much they should eat,” writes Jane E. Brody for The New York Times. For example, the serving size reported on ice cream labels has increased to ⅔ cup compared to ½ cup, which it used to be. With untrustworthy labels and fad diets running rampant, how do you navigate healthy nutrition changes and proper portions? A few tips:


Control + Balance = Success

  • Restaurant portions are TOO BIG. The amount of food typically served can be eaten by 2-3 people OR can make 1-2 more meals in the future. Share a dish with a friend (and save money) or take it home!

  • Buy labeled containers for packing lunch or for storing leftovers. There are so many lunch packing sets (found at places like Target) that have ¼, ½, ¾ and 1 cup markings. Then you can more easily pack and serve out healthy portions!

  • Use everyday items to gauge the size of your servings. Check out this document for not only item comparisons, but also a handy guide for comparing portions to different parts of your hand, allowing you to truly cater your portion sizes to yourself.

  • Eat slowly. When you eat too fast, your body can’t accurately decide how full it is. It takes 20 minutes or so for your food to settle. So? Give your body a chance and let it get a grip before you eat too much food!

In other words, start small and prioritize balance. The Integrative Nutrition Plate illustrates how a whole foods-focused, properly portioned meal can look.