Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom
Portion Control

Yesterday, I received an email from a reader who had questions about how to count calories when eating clean. I no longer count calories, but still measure out proper portions and serving sizes to achieve a balanced meal. After thinking about how important this little step is, I was inspired to write and define what portions I use for each food group. Measuring foods may seem time consuming, but you won’t mind once the measurement of your waistline starts to shrink!

Portion size is crucial when it comes to losing and maintaining weight. It is important to remember that even healthy foods need to be eaten in moderation. Nibbling on a healthy mix of nuts can quickly turn into a calorie bomb loaded with fat.

When I first started paying attention to nutrition labels, I was surprised to see what an actual serving looked like. For example, checkout the serving size on your favorite cereal and measure it out. Shockingly different than the usual amount that you eat? You’re not alone! It is so easy to overdo it if you are unaware of what a proper serving looks like. I’m a very visual learner, so I complied a list of objects that give a visual of measurements, which is especially helpful when eating out.

1 cup= baseball
½ cup = yoyo
2/3 cup= tennis ball
¼ cup= egg
3oz= deck of cards
1 Tbs = poker chip
1 tsp = quarter

Here is an idea of what one serving from each food group equals in the Rabbit Food world:

Veggies: (lunch & dinner)
2 cups fresh
1 cup frozen
½ cup canned
¼ dried

Fruit: (breakfast and snack)
1 piece, about the size of a baseball
1 cup fresh or frozen
½ cup canned (no sugar added)
¼ cup dried (unsweetened)

1 slice of whole grain bread
½ whole grain English muffin or whole-grain pita
½ cup cooked brown or wild rice, whole-grain pasta, or quinoa
¼ cup uncooked oats
2 taco sized whole-corn tortillas

1 cup skim milk
6oz plain nonfat Greek yogurt
½ cup nonfat cottage cheese
¼ cup nonfat ricotta cheese
1 slice reduced fat cheese
¼ cup reduced fat shredded cheese
¼ cup of egg whites
3oz chicken, turkey, or fish
½ cup cooked beans or lentils
¼  package of tofu or tempeh

1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp nuts
1 Tbsp nut butter
10 olives
¼ medium avocado
¼ cup 70% dark chocolate chips

Challenge: Pour a bowl of cereal as you normally would without measuring, as if you were going to eat it for breakfast. Then pour the contents of your bowl into a measuring cup and compare your bowl of cereal to the serving size on the back of the box. The first time I did this was a huge eye opener for me. My bowl consisted of 3 times the serving size listed on the nutrition label!

3 Comments on Portion Control

  1. Erica
    March 30, 2012 at 11:07 pm (12 years ago)

    Once I started measuring all my food, I got rid of the “large” bowls in my cabinet and bought smaller bowls that do not hold more than one cup of food. Jason asked what he was supposed to eat his ice cream out of now that the bigger bowls were gone and he just got “the look”.

    • Catherine
      March 31, 2012 at 1:13 am (12 years ago)

      What a great idea! I have small bowls as well. I know how far I can fill them up for certain foods and treats so I don’t go overboard. Plus, it’s nice to be able to eyeball a portion and not have to get out the measuring cups once in a while 🙂

  2. Lynne
    August 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm (10 years ago)


    I have a question that I’m hoping someone can give me advice on. I weigh ALL of my food then go online to calculate how many calories it contains and then log it. I’ve been doing this for a few months now. I’m sick of it! I tried to “eyeball” portions but I’m just so scared of going over my calories without knowing! I somehow always end up counting again. It takes all evening to prep my lunch, snacks and breakfast for the next day. I work 9-5 so the evening is my only time to do this. It saves me time in the morning… Anyways, question is… How do you know your not going over your calorie limit by “eyeballing”, without counting calories? I’m try to maintaining my new weight right now (lost around 10 Lbs) and I’m SO SCARED of going over if I stop counting, and regaining the weight! Anyone has advice on this? I would greatly appreciate your ideas. I feel like I’m going little and it’s starting to take over my life.

    Confused and Frustrated


Leave a Reply