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January 21, 2020

Manage Portions Without Counting Calories

Manage Portions Without Counting Calories

By | In Jung Lifrieri, Registered Dietitian

At the start of each new year, many of us shift our thinking back to healthy eating and how we can tackle our wellness and weight loss goals.


Weight management can be tricky because there are so many diet trends, “rules” and disciplines to think about, but all of this can be simplified if you redirect your thinking and focus on portion sizes. Here are some simple tips that I live by when it comes to portion control:


First rule of thumb: fill your plate up with vegetables.

The USDA recommends anywhere from 3-5 servings of vegetables daily.  But why stop there?  Vegetables are chock full of nutrients, vitamins, fiber and even water – this is the good stuff that you can have loads of.  Consider 1-3 servings of fruit daily, and go “ham” with the vegetables.

    • 1 serving fresh fruit/vegetables is equivalent to the size of a baseball
    • 1 serving of cooked fruit/vegetable is equivalent to the size of a light bulb


Not all protein is created equal.

We overestimate how much protein the average healthy adult needs in one day, and this is where you can make a big difference with caloric. Remember to opt for lean proteins in each meal, because not all proteins are created equal.

    • 1 appropriate size serving of lean protein (fresh poultry/fish) is equivalent to the size of a deck of cards (3 oz of meat), or a check book (6 oz of meat).
    • 1 appropriate size serving of non-meat protein source, such as beans/legumes is equivalent to the size of a softball (approximately 1- 1 ½ cups) in a main dish.

Opt for Whole Grain Products.

You will get the most benefits from choosing grains in whole form – consider options like brown rice, quinoa, or faro as opposed to breads, crackers and cereals, so you can get the most nutrients and fiber. Swap out a serving of cooked whole grains for these tasty, healthful alternatives such as root vegetables (potatoes, turnips) or winter squash to ensure you get a plate full of nutrients and energy!

    • Aim for 3-5 servings daily of ½ cup cooked grains (this yields a serving size equivalent to the size of a light bulb).


If you’re interested in learning more about serving sizes and personalized nutrition plans, consider meeting with one of Westmed’s registered dietitians.