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When it comes to eating, are you a "hearty portioner"? Portion control is one of the biggest challenges many dieters face. Hearty portioners don't know when to stop! Before they know it, they're overstuffed and over their diet's calorie limit. Recognizing when to stop eating and how much food makes up a single serving is difficult with all the super-sized restaurant meals being served these days. Stress no more!

Here are four easy ways to keep your portions under control without measuring cups or scales:

1) Pre-packaged snacks put a stop to endless munching on snacks like chips, crackers, or nuts. Many companies are offering 100-calorie individual snacks to help dieters get in control of portions. For example, Nabisco has released a whole line of "100 Calorie Packs" of popular snacks such as Oreos and Wheat Thins. If you love trail mix, try Trader Joes' "Just a Handful" versions of their popular trail mixes, such as "Cashews, Almonds, and Cranberries." Even though pre-packaged snacks often cost more than regular versions, the extra money can be worth it if you need a little help managing what you eat.

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2) Portion control plates make dishing out your meals easy by showing you serving sizes right on the plate! Try Portionpal food management discs to measure out red meat, chicken, fish, whole grains, and desserts. If you don't want to spend $20 for a product like that, just remember this easy tip for filling your plate at dinner: half of your plate should be vegetables, a quarter should be for protein such as fish, lean meat, beans, etc., and a quarter should be for whole grains.

3) Eat on a smaller plate to prevent yourself from overeating! You'll be less likely to pile on too much food if you don't have that much space to fill. This tip works especially well at buffets, where many people tend to go overboard.

4) Remember these easy portion comparisons:

  • An 8 oz hot or cold beverage is approximately the size of your fist.
  • 1 oz servings of foods such as pasta, hot cereal, nuts, or cottage cheese fits into one hand cupped.
  • Sweet-tooth alert! A single serving, (1/2 cup) of your favorite ice cream is equivalent to the size of a tennis ball.
  • One tablespoon of foods like butter, salad dressing, or dips is about the size of two of your thumb tips put together.

Remember to slow down when you eat so you give yourself time to recognize when you are full. Whether you're a hearty portioner or not, consider these four tips as part of your overall strategy for healthy dieting!

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