One of the easiest ways to blow your fat loss goals is by overeating, but that’s where portion control food containers come to the rescue. Sure, we all have those nights of nachos and beers or a pity party with a pint of ice cream, but it’s more than just going overboard on junk food every now and then. Too much of a good thing–you know, the stuff you consider health food–can throw off your results if you’re inflating serving sizes.
Understanding Serving and Portions Sizes
Before you can determine if your portions have been a tad too plentiful, you first need to understand serving sizes. A serving size is the amount of food assigned to the nutritional values listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts label. The calories, fats, carbs, and so on only apply to the serving size amount–not all of the food in the entire container. As much as it might be nice if that frozen pizza or bag of chips were just one serving, it’s likely divided into much smaller fractions so that the numbers don’t alarm you the way they do when calculating the entire package.
The old standard way of portion control has always been to serve up your meal by measuring and weighing. Measuring cups and food scales can help keep you in check when your eyes become bigger than your stomach. But let’s face it, measuring and weighing can get real old, real quick. If you’re schedule is already feeling pinched for time, the last thing you want to do is spend the day tethered to the kitchen.
Still, portions are important for making both gains in muscle and loss in fat. That’s where your hand lends you, well, a hand. Skip the scale and measuring cups and remember that one serving of meat is equal to your palm, veggies to your two hands cupped together, fruits and grains to the size of one fist, and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil and avocado) to the size of your thumb.
Try Portion Control Food Containers
If the weights and measurements model is too much, but the hand method feels too loose, you can make things a lot easier with the TV-dinner approach. No, we’re not suggesting you swap real
food for the frozen over-processed variety popular in the aluminum trays. But the one thing those food-like meals got right is built-in portion control. Mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and freezer-burned peas each came in their own compartment, which meant no overeating (ahem, unless you made a second TV dinner).
Following suit with the dining-style of decades ago, portion-control containers make it easy to eat fresh, whole foods in proper serving sizes without the burden of scales. Basically, just fill in your food to the amount that the container holds and you’re good to go. When selecting the right containers for the right foods, keep these tips in mind:
- Size matters: A salad-size container, which will be bigger to hold room for lots of greens and veggies, is not the right portion size for a snack of fresh fruits–or vice versa. Some initial measurements may be needed to understand the right container for the each meal.
- Location, location, location: Lots of small containers may be great if you can just open your fridge and grab what you need, but if you’re packing your food for a day at work, avoid needing a suitcase to wheel in your meals. Look for container sets that pack a lot in a little space. For example, the Fit & Fresh Chilled Snack Container is about the size of a small thermos, housing cut veggies in the base, and a dip with small freeze pack in the top.
- Perfectly plated: If you’re not a fan of eating out of containers, try a plate that guides you toward healthy servings. Like a TV dinner, the plate is divided into compartments, with each one showing a picture of what food goes in each. One to try: Cookworks Portion Control Travel Plate that can be used at your dining room table, or snap on the lid to take it on the go.
- Cook less: If you’re often tempted to go back for a second helping, no plate is going to help you there. However, by only cooking the serving you need, you can avoid the temptation all together. Jokari Healthy Steps Portion Control Pasta Basket allows you to measure, cook, and strain single servings of pasta.
What’s your secret to portion control? Share with others in the comments!