One of the things we hear most frequently from those who have successfully lost weight with South Beach Diet is this: I had no idea how much food I was really eating. It’s no wonder. If you go to any restaurant, you’re getting twice or even three times the recommended serving size. And regardless of whether you order a meal or snack, every time you eat out, you’re adding an average of 134 calories to your diet, compared to the same meals or snacks you eat at home, according to the USDA. That’s because restaurant food is higher in calories and saturated fat, which makes portion control tricky when you don’t have the proper information on how much you SHOULD be eating.
Now the good news: With knowledge comes power. Control your portions and you’ll control your weight. Luckily, there are some pretty easy ways to ensure you’re eating the recommended amounts.
Here are seven ways to master portion control perfection:
1. Invest in Measuring Cups.
Unless you’re a chef or culinary superstar, chances are you don’t really know how many sunflower seeds there are in two tablespoons or how many blueberries comprise one cup. If you invest in measuring cups, however, you can be absolutely sure of how much you’re eating, which leads to faster weight loss results. Another benefit of using a measuring cup is recipe perfection. For example, if you’re making salsa and the recipe calls for ½ cup onion, a measuring cup ensures you’re not skimping or overusing your ingredients, making for more balanced dishes.
2. Meal Prep.
Meal prepping can be a lifesaver (and timesaver!) for hectic schedules and portion control. It also gives you the ability to ensure you are eating the right amount of all allotted foods. Plan and prep ahead to ensure you are eating a balanced, South Beach-friendly meal. We’ve got plenty of DIY meal ideas right here on our recipe page >
3. Eat More Frequently.
While the verdict is still out on whether eating healthy foods six times a day helps you lose more weight than eating healthy foods three times a day, one thing is clear: Those that eat six times a day feel full throughout the day and are less likely to overeat during regular meals—which in turn helps with portion control.
There is an inverse association between weight and eating frequency, says Harvard Health. The heavier a person is, the less often they eat. Bottom line: The worst thing you can do is to skip meals or allow yourself to get too hungry, otherwise you’ll most certainly ignore the suggested portion amounts and get off track.
4. Drink Water.
Earlier this year, the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics published a study that shows water really does increase feelings of satiety, which helps avoid overeating. The study included more than 18,000 adults and found that those who drank more plain water daily reduced their total calorie intake and also ate less saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol. South Beach Diet recommends drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily to help achieve weight loss success. If you’re more likely to drink water cold, get an insulated cup. If you don’t like the taste of water, add lemon or lime juice. Even coffee and tea count towards your daily requirement. Just steer clear of fruit juice, soda (even diet) and other sugary drinks.
5. Stick to Wholesome, Pre-Portioned Foods.
For DIY meals and snacks, you should stick to wholesome, pre-portioned foods. Whether it’s individually packaged chicken breasts or single serve containers of yogurt, more and more food manufacturers are providing customers with convenient options. That’s great for dieters who really are on the go. Plus, smaller packaging also helps prevents mindless overeating. (One minute you have a block of cheese, the next, you’re holding the wrapper.)
Just be careful never to make assumptions about serving sizes or added ingredients. There are 23 almonds in one healthy fat serving. Don’t assume that snack package you bought contains that exact number. Stick to wholesome, minimally processed, foods with simple ingredients and always choose full-fat options when it comes to dairy and healthy fats (like peanut butter). Stick to wholesome foods with simple ingredients and always choose full-fat options when it comes to dairy and healthy fats (like peanut butter).
6. Try the Divided Plate Method.
Picture your dinner plate when you were young. Chances are, you had three foods at every meal—the main course (meat), a starch (rice or potatoes) and a veggie. And we’ll bet the meat and potatoes were piled high, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the way you maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. But don’t worry! You can easily change you eating habits and adopt new owes for yourself and your family. Here’s how you do it: Instead of three sections, imagine your dinner plate has four. To make a balanced meal, fill one quarter with Proteins, one quarter with Healthy Fats and Good Carbs, and the two bottom sections should be reserved for Vegetables. Don’t overlap them or pile the food high. And if you must go back for seconds, go for the veggies!
7. Use Household Items as Guides.
If you just aren’t ready to go buy measuring cups, we’ve figured out a few ways to help you spot a serving. Call it an educated eyeball.
Cooked beef, pork or poultry (3 oz.) = the size of a deck of cards
Ground meat (3 oz.) = a little smaller than a fist or ¾ cup
Fish (3 oz.) = the size of a checkbook
Sausage or rolled p deli meat (2 oz.) = 2 lipstick containers
Cheese (1 oz.) cubed = 4 dice
Olive oil (canola, peanut, etc.) = 1 Tbsp.
Nuts (1 oz) = ¼ cup
Nut butters = 2 Tbsp.
Seeds (1 oz) = 3 Tbsp.
Salad Dressing = 2 Tbsp.
Raw vegetables (1 cup) = baseball
Cooked vegetables (1/2 cup) = tennis ball