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Portion Size Guide – Use Visuals to Create Perfectly Portioned Meals

A reader recently wrote, “Could you please write about portion sizes? I think this is my big problem. Please, have in mind portion sizes for every meal of a day. And please, make it simple  :)

 

I hope this fits the bill!

 

In my experience, most people are “over” on their portions of whole grains, protein and good fat, and “under” when it comes to fruits and veggies. If you can visualize the proper portion for each part of your meal, you can construct each breakfast, lunch and dinner in a way that brings everything into balance.

 

First, use a few household objects to visualize right-sized portions from each food group:

 

Cooked grains, like oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and quinoa – one half cup cooked – size of half of a tennis ball

 

Popcorn – 3 cups – size of 3 tennis balls

 

Lean protein, like chicken, seafood or tofu – 3 oz – size of a deck of cards in thickness and width or the size of a woman’s palm

 

Cheese – 1 oz – size of a coaster if sliced, 4 dice if cubed, a golf ball if shredded or crumbled

 

Milk or milk substitute (like organic soy milk) – 1 cup or 8 ounces – size of a tennis ball

 

Yogurt – 6 oz or ¾ cup – size of most single serving yogurt containers or ¾ of a tennis ball

 

Starchy vegetables, like beans, potatoes, corn, peas - one half cup cooked – size of half of a tennis ball

 

Non-starchy vegetables, like greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc. – 1 cup – size of a tennis ball 

 

Fruit – 1 cup, size of a tennis ball

 

Nuts, seeds, nut butter – 2 Tbsp – size of both of your thumbs, from where they bend to the tips

 

Oils, like extra virgin olive oil – 1 Tbsp – size of one thumb, from where it bends to the tip

 

Hummus – 2 Tbsp - size of both of your thumbs, from where they bend to the tip

 

OK, now that you have a visual image for each of these foods, let’s put them together:

 

Breakfast:

Half cup cooked oatmeal – size of half a tennis ball

1 cup fresh fruit – size of a tennis ball

2 Tbsp nuts – size of 2 thumbs, from where they bend to the tips

1 cup or 8 oz organic soy milk – size of a tennis ball

 

Lunch:

Half cup cooked brown rice - size of half a tennis ball

3 oz lean protein, like shrimp – size of a woman’s palm

1 cup raw veggies, like peppers, onions, broccoli, etc. - size of half a tennis ball

1 Tbsp oil - size of your thumbs, from where it bends to the tip

 

Snack:

1 cup fruit - size of half a tennis ball

6 oz or ¾ cup yogurt – size of most single serving yogurt containers or ¾ of a tennis ball

3 cups popcorn – size of 3 tennis balls

 

Dinner:

Half cup cooked whole wheat pasta - size of half a tennis ball

3 oz lean protein, like chicken – size of a woman’s palm

1 cup raw veggies, like spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. - size of half a tennis ball

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil - size of your thumbs, from where it bends to the tip

 

Snack:

1 cup veggies, like baby carrots – size of a tennis ball

2 Tbsp hummus - size of both of your thumbs, from where they bend to the tip

1 oz crumbled feta cheese – size of a golf ball

 

What do you think? Do these visuals help you see where you may be out of balance? Do you think about portion sizes when you put meals together? Please share your thoughts!

 

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