Portion Control Advice for Diabetics - dummies

Portion Control Advice for Diabetics

By American Diabetes Association

The Plate Method is a simple and effective way to keep portion sizes in check, build healthy meals, and work more nonstarchy vegetables into your diet. But if weight loss is one of your diabetes goals, you may be interested in a few additional portion control tips to help keep you on track.

Simple portion size estimation guidelines

Identifying the correct portion for some everyday food items is a piece of cake if you use common household items as guidelines. These household items make great visualization tools; if you’re familiar with the size of these items, you can estimate how much of the corresponding food to serve yourself and your family. Here are a few of the most common portion size estimation guidelines:

  • 1 teaspoon = about the size of your fingertip
  • 1 tablespoon = about the size of your thumb
  • 3 ounces meat, fish, poultry = the palm of your hand or 1 deck of cards
  • 1 ounce cheese = about the size of your thumb or a pair of dice
  • 1 cup milk, yogurt, or vegetables = the size of a tennis ball
  • 1 medium piece fruit = the size of a tennis ball or an average-size fist

These guidelines will help you visualize correct portion sizes for the foods listed. For other foods and beverages, it’s a good idea to use measuring cups and spoons for a while to acclimate yourself to the right serving sizes. For example, measure out one serving of your favorite healthy breakfast cereal, and pour it into a bowl. Pay attention to how that amount of cereal looks in your bowl. A food scale may also be helpful. Eventually you’ll be able to eyeball the correct serving without measuring.

It’s easy to train your brain to recognize correct portion sizes; after a week or two you probably won’t need to use measuring tools or household items to estimate serving sizes. Most people find that, over time, their portions start creeping back up to where they were before they began practicing portion control. When this happens, it’s a good idea to go back to weighing or measuring your foods for a few days to get back on track.

Some people find it helpful to track the portions they eat for a few days before starting to use any portion control techniques. Simply keep a record of the all food you eat for about 3 days, using a food tracker or pen and paper. Then you can compare the amount of food you normally eat to the actual serving sizes on packages or to the portion size guidelines listed earlier. You may find that you’ve been eating more than you thought.

Portion control tips

Even with the Plate Method and portion size estimation techniques in your arsenal, you may still be tempted to overeat in certain situations. Here are a few tips to make it easier to avoid temptation:

  • Instead of serving family meals at the table, serve the food in the kitchen and bring it out to the table. If the leftover food is out of sight, you may be less tempted to reach for a second serving.
  • Your body may not recognize that it’s full right away. Eat slowly and savor your food as you’re eating. Take a break between bites and give yourself time to realize that you’re full.
  • It’s easy to overeat at parties; food is often all around and it’s easy to grab a little at a time without realizing how much you’re eating. If you eat a light, healthy snack before heading to a party, you may be less likely to overeat.
  • It’s especially difficult to control portion sizes when snacking. Many people end up eating several servings of their snack of choice without realizing it. To prevent this, measure out one serving of snack foods instead of eating directly out of the package. Try to avoid eating mindlessly in front of the TV or computer — pay attention to your body so you know when you’re full.
  • If you have specific foods you tend to overeat, don’t buy those foods anymore, or at least store them somewhere out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.

With a little planning and a few simple tips, tricks, and strategies, you’ll be a master of portion control in no time!