It’s easy to count your calories when your portions are measured out for you in pre-packaged foods. But what about those of us that buy in bulk? It’s difficult to measure our portions from a larger bag or container when there is more than one serving inside. Luckily, there are some gadgets and tools that you can use to help take a lot of the guesswork out.
-Measuring Cups and Spoons-
This seems like a no-brainer, but these things really do help. Regular old dry measuring cups are good for everything, whether it’s pasta, rice, cereal, you name it. Measuring spoons are good for condiments such as mayo, salad dressing, even peanut butter. Liquid measuring cups can help you get the right amount of milk or juice.
One caveat: measuring spoons are an absolute pain in the butt when it comes to measuring wet ingredients like salad dressing or ketchup. Luckily, there are little push-up measuring spoons that look like beakers. Avid watchers of the Food Network program “Good Eats” will know that Alton Brown uses these all the time. They work by depressing the plunger (kind of like a syringe) to the correct amount. Fill it with the liquid (or semi-liquid) of your choice, level it off, and depress the plunger. Easy cleanup!
No need to spend tons of money on a “Biggest Loser” brand food scale. I got a scale for around $12 on Amazon and it works wonders. Look for a scale with a tare function that switches unit grades (from ounces to grams, etc.) Place a container on the scale, zero out the weight of the container, and add your food. This works wonders for portioning out snacks (chips, nuts, M&Ms… but who still eats those, right?) or meat.
This is especially handy for certain foods that say that a certain number of pieces is what the serving size is. For example, let’s say you wanted to indulge and pack yourself some cookies. The serving size on the package says that one serving is 2 cookies. It also says that this is equal to 28g. The problem with this is that while the cookies may look consistent, their weights might be different. One cookie might weigh 10g and one cookie might weigh 20g. So inadvertently you are ingesting more calories than you wanted to.
-Snack Bags and Cups-
Those little snack cups that they market for children are actually really good at keeping your snack portions in check, too. Investing in a few of these are a good idea. Not only are they small enough to pack in a bag or purse, they help you to understand how much you are supposed to be eating portion-wise. Try to find ones that don’t have cartoon characters on them if you want to be discreet.
Snack bags (that is, sandwich bags that are cut in half) are also great for portioning out snacks. Grabbing a box of these is a good idea, especially if you don’t have a good scale. One of these snack bags usually holds around 1 serving size for most snacks, like chips, pretzels, or nuts.
-Smaller Plates and Bowls-
We are all guilty of portion distortion, and these big plates and bowls that we have in our pantry are not helping. Most of the bowls and plates that I have can easily hold double or triple the amount of food that I am supposed to be eating. Investing in smaller plates and bowls will not only help you get your portions under control, they are a lot easier to clean up after dinner.
With these tools in your arsenal, then you are sure to succeed in your weight loss goals. Being educated in portion control and calorie intake is the first step in your success. Good luck!