Many of us overlook the most important step to weight loss.  We work to establish an exercise routine.  We cut back on sugars, fats and carbs.  And yet, that number on the scale does not move in the direction we want it to.  A lot of times, the problem is related to how much we are eating, not what we are eating. I’ve heard from people on different diet plans that they are eating foods that are recommended but, what they aren’t doing, is measuring and weighing those foods.  It’s annoying and time consuming and we all have busy lives.  However, it just might mean the difference in losing those last couple pounds you’ve been struggling with.

First off, know the difference between portions and servings. If you are a label reader, you may be pleased with the calories and fat content on some of the foods you’re looking at.  However, those labels report by serving size and there may several serving sizes in that container.  For example, soda has approximately 120 calories per 8 oz.  However, most containers are 12 oz, or 20 oz.  Don’t forget to do the math.

Surprisingly, trying to adhere to the USDA’s recommendations can also be contributing to the problem.  For example, the USDA recommends between 2 to 4 servings of fruits. A lot of people interpret that as having to eat 4 separate pieces of fruit a day.  However, in general, a serving size for fruit is ½ cup.  That is about the size of ½ a baseball or the head of a light bulb. Pay attention next time to the size of that apple or orange you are eating.  Chances are, one piece of fruit equals more than one serving.  That means you have been over eating while trying to eat right.  No wonder the pounds aren’t melting away.

Now, I know it is inconvenient to weigh and measure everything you put in your mouth.   Who carries around measuring cups and scale when they’re going out to eat?  But restaurants are probably the worst abusers of portion control.  It is unreasonable to give up eating out. So, below are some visual aids to help when figuring out how much to eat and what to put in that doggie bag.

  • 1 cup = the size of baseball or tennis ball
  • ½ cup = the head of one light bulb, half of a baseball or 2 golf balls
  • 3 ounces = a deck of cars or a check book if the meat is thin
  • 2 tablespoons = 1 ping pong ball
  • 1 ½ ounces = 4 stacked dice

You don’t have to measure and weigh everything that goes into your mouth but just being aware of your portion sizes can make a huge difference in how fast that weight comes off.