Perfecting Portion Control: 13 Simple Strategies To Avoid Overeating

Note- This post may contain affiliate links, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs.

If you want to lose weight to reach or maintain a healthy weight, how much you eat can be just as important as what you eat. But practicing portion control is often easier said than done—especially with so many restaurants and food manufacturers dishing out meals and snacks that are twice the size they should be.

Strategies For Portion Control

On the outside, it may seem like an easy task to just eat or drink less, but it’s actually not that simple. Many people end up eating more than they intended to. It may be because of extreme hunger or just that they don’t understand how much is actually enough. 

The good news is, perfecting portion sizes doesn’t have to be impossible, and overeating is not inevitable. In this article, we’ll help you master mealtime with some simple and effective portion control strategies. 

We’ll discuss daily food group targets, provide practical tools for estimating proper portion sizes, and give science-backed suggestions for preventing overeating. So, whether you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to be more mindful at mealtime, we’ve got you covered.

The Importance of Portion Control for Weight Loss

Portion Control Plate

Research indicates that people tend to eat nearly everything they serve themselves, regardless of their hunger level. This is problematic since eating more food than your body needs means you’re consuming more calories than your body needs. 

When you flood your body with too many calories, the excess can be stored as fat, leading to weight gain and possible health risks.

By fueling your body with the right amount of calories and nutrition, you’ll feel satisfied and strong without having to worry about unwanted weight gain.

Daily Food Targets

Food TypeDaily TargetFood Example
Fruits2 cups1 cup counts as:
-1 small apple
-1 small banana
-1 cup grapes
-1/2 cup raisins
-1 cup 100% fruit juice
Vegetables2.5 cups1 cup counts as:
-2 cups of raw spinach
-1 cup cooked collard, kale, or turnip greens
-1 small avocado
-1 large sweet potato
-1 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils
-1 cup chopped cauliflower
Grains6 ounces1 cup counts as:
-2 cups of raw spinach
-1 cup cooked collard, kale, or turnip greens
-1 small avocado
-1 large sweet potato
-1 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils
-1 cup chopped cauliflower
Protein 5.5 ounces1 ounce counts as:
-1 ounce cooked lean chicken, pork, or beef
-1 ounce tuna fish
-1/4 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils
-1 tbsp. peanut butter
-2 tbsp. hummus
-1 egg
Dairy3 cups 1 ounce counts as:
-1 ounce cooked lean chicken, pork, or beef
-1 ounce tuna fish
-1/4 cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils
-1 tbsp. peanut butter
-2 tbsp. hummus
-1 egg

The amount of food you should eat depends upon a number of factors, including your age, gender, weight, height, physical activity, and weight goals. 

To find out your unique food target and get a personalized plan, check out the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) MyPlate Plan tool. It’s a helpful resource that uses your personal data to determine what and how much you should be eating each day.

Here’s an example of daily food targets for someone on a 2,000-calorie plan, as indicated by MyPlate:

Portion Size Guide

Household ItemMeasuresAppropriate Portion Size For
Baseball (or average-sized fist)1 cupRaw or cooked vegetables or whole fruit
Tennis Ball1/2 cupPasta, rice, oatmeal
Deck of Cards3 oz. equivalentFish, chicken, beef
Thumb1 tablespoonPeanut butter, almond butter and other nut butter.
Postage stamp (tip of the pointer finger to the first joint)1 teaspoonOils and other fats

Once you establish your daily food group targets, the next step is implementing that information. Using measuring cups and spoons can help you get used to what a single serving looks like when preparing meals or snacks at home. 

However, since these tools aren’t always at your disposal, here are some ways to estimate portion sizes using common household items, courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Portion Control for Weight Loss: 13 Practical Strategies

Food On Plate

Try these simple strategies to prevent overeating and encourage healthier habits at mealtimes:

1. Use smaller dishes

Research suggests that the larger your dinnerware, the more likely you are to over-serve yourself—and to overeat. Using smaller plates, bowls, and glasses may visually trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more food, thus promoting feelings of fullness.

2. Avoid Going Back For Seconds

When you’re very hungry and don’t feel satiated with the food served to you, it is not rare to get a second serving. But the habit of going for seconds can actually mess up your weight-loss regime. 

So, one basic strategy for portion control is to avoid going for seconds. This small habit will go a long way in your weight-loss journey. 

3. Divide your plate into food groups

While the right amount of food for you is dependent on a number of factors, including your age, gender, activity level, and more, there are some general guidelines for building a balanced meals that apply to most people. When serving yourself, try divvying up your plate like this:

  • Half of your plate: Should be full of vegetables or salad
  • Quarter of your plate: Should contain high-quality protein like meat, poultry, fish, eggs,
  • dairy, tofu, beans, and pulses
  • Quarter of your plate: Should include complex carbohydrates like whole grains and starchy vegetables.
  • Enjoy fats in moderation: Choose healthy vegetable and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. And opt for low-fat dairy foods.

4. Don’t Eat Out Of A Bag Or A Carton

You won’t think about it, but this is actually a hindrance. The amount we cannot see is the amount we cannot comprehend. The food in a bag and carton might exceed your desired portion size, but you won’t be able to see it.

There’s a high chance that you will eat more than necessary. Thus, avoid taking this chance altogether. Always display the contents on a plate for a better understanding. 

5. Slow down and savor every bite

Studies demonstrate that eating slowly can lead to decreased food intake. That’s probably because eating mindfully and taking your time to chew and appreciate your food can help you

recognize feelings of fullness.

6. Drink up

Research suggests that drinking water prior to a meal can reduce the amount you consume at that meal. Get in the habit of drinking a glass prior to every meal or snack.

7. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues

Listen to your body’s signals and eat when you’re hungry, stopping when you feel satisfied but not overly full. It can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s full. Take frequent breaks during meals and wait at least 20 minutes before returning for seconds.

8. Diss the distractions

Be present at mealtime—avoid playing on your phone, watching television, or working. Studies indicate that engaging in these types of distractions while eating can increase food intake.

9. Pre-portion snacks and meals in advance

Avoid eating directly from snack bags or containers—especially if they contain more than one serving. Research indicates that the larger the package or bag, the more people eat from it.

Prepare individual servings or pre-packaged snacks to prevent mindless munching and encourage portion control.

10. Take it to go

If your schedule is jam-packed, you’re likely ravenous by the time you finally get to pause and eat something. Since this is a recipe for diet disaster, make sure you always have a pre-portioned snack on hand. A bag of nuts, pre-chopped fruits or veggies, or hard-boiled eggs make great grab-and-go between-meal options.

11. Downsize when dining out

Restaurants are notorious for dishing out super-sized portions. Since most people eat whatever they are served, this means you’re probably overeating when dining out.

Requesting your waiter box up half your meal before it even makes its way to your table is a great way to ensure you don’t go overboard.

12. Avoid The Minis As Well

We talked about super-sizes, but the mini-sized items are also dangerous. The world is now filled with mini versions of food; mini-cookies, mini-crackers, mini-cakes, and mini-pretzels. 

You might think that a small version won’t do any harm. But the human mind plays tricks. Start with one, and more times than often; the count becomes one too many. If you are very strict and have the self-control to stay true to yourself, you can go for the minis. Else, beware. 

13. Consider a meal plan made specifically for you

If you struggle to maintain a balanced diet due to a hectic schedule, consider researching a popular diet plan service that delivers nutritious, pre-portioned meals right to your door. This will help you save time and ensure your nutritional needs are met—without any hassle.

Practical Tools and Resources

Portion Control

Utilizing these tools and resources can help you become a portion control pro:

1. Portion Control Containers & Portion Control Plates

Invest in specialized plates and containers that are designed with portion guidelines to simplify meal planning and portion management.

2. Smartphone Apps and Tracking Websites

Various apps and websites provide portion-tracking and calorie-counting features to help you monitor your food intake and make informed choices.

3. Food Scales and Measuring Cups/Spoons

These kitchen essentials allow you to accurately measure ingredients and control your portion sizes until you’re familiar enough to estimate them on your own.

4. Recipe Modification for Portion Control

Adapt recipes by reducing ingredient quantities or substituting certain ingredients to create portion-friendly versions without compromising flavor.

For example, cauliflower rice makes a great substitution for regular rice, whole wheat pitas are a great alternative to traditional pizza crusts, and low-fat dairy products are a great replacement for full-fat varieties.


Mastering portion control is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing overeating. By implementing practical strategies such as using smaller plates, dividing your plate into food groups, and practicing mindful eating, you can regain control of your portions and foster a healthier relationship with food. 

Overcoming common challenges, utilizing practical tools and resources, and monitoring your progress will further support your goals.

Remember, achieving and maintaining a balanced diet is a continuous process, so be patient and kind to yourself along the way. Embrace these strategies, make mindful choices, and savor each bite, knowing you’re taking positive steps toward a healthier and happier you. Cheers to you for mastering portion control and balanced eating!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *