In addition to balance, portion sizing is the most important part of meal planning. It is easy, but it may take some practice. I recommend spending some time with your measuring cups, your dining dishes, drinking glasses, cereal bowls, and maybe even a food scale.
The serving size listed on a package nutrition label is a good resource, but make note that the serving size listed is not always the same serving size used in different methods of meal planning. For example, a carton of orange juice usually lists the serving as 1 cup (8 oz.) and 120 calories, however cup (4 oz.) counts as a serving of fruit listed on the ADA exchanges and food guide pyramid which equals 60 calories. Therefore, if you pour yourself an 8 oz. glass of orange juice, you are consuming 2 servings of fruit equaling 120 calories. If you pour yourself a 4 oz. glass of orange juice, you are consuming 1 serving of fruit and 60 calories.
- Measure your beverages. A serving of milk is 8 oz. Use your measuring cup to see where 8 oz. fills your usual drinking glass to. After measuring once or twice, you should be able to “eye-ball” your next portions.
- Measure your cereals/grains. A food group serving of cereal is about cup. Most cereal bowls actually hold 2 cups. If you fill your 2-cup bowl halfway with cereal, you are consuming 2 servings of the bread/cereal/grain group.
- Measure your meats. A food scale is the easiest way to get the most accurate serving size of meat. Most adults need only 6-9 oz. of meat a day. It is easy to consume this much in only one meal if you do not portion size.
Use the following guidelines for quick measures:
1 cup = baseball
cup = light bulb
1 oz. or 2 TBS = golf ball
1 TBS = top part of your thumb
3 oz. of meat = deck of cards