Shape Up: Portion Control

So you’ve worked your bum off and you just can’t seem to drop those last few pounds. We’ve all been there. While exercise is essential for getting fit and feeling fabulous, one of the most important parts of slimming down and maintaining a healthy weight is understanding the delicate balance of portions versus serving size. So what’s the difference between the two? According to WebMD, a portion is the amount of food you actually put on your plate. A serving size is a “specific amount of food defined by common measurements, such as cups or tablespoons” that is set by the USDA. Many of us mistake a portion for a serving. This can be dangerous as it can lead to overeating (and added inches at the waistline). No thank you. That said, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what a serving should look like. (Hint: It shouldn’t look like this or this.) If you can eyeball how much pasta you really should be serving yourself, you’ll be better able to watch your waistline and maintain a healthy weight.

I looked around online and found a lot of photo comparisons between foods and random items such as dice, decks of cards and so on that provide visual cues as to how much a food serving should be when compared to a familiar object. Well, seeing as I’m a total beauty junkie, I figured I’d work with my team to put together a visual that all of you likeminded beauty-lovers could understand to help you make better judgment calls when it comes to portion control…

Shape Up: Portion Control


Vegetables = 1 cup (cooked), 1 ½ cups (raw) = Loofah

Fruit = 1 cup = 2 Beauty Blenders

Meat & Fish = 3 ounces = 6-pan Eyeshadow Compact

Whole Grains = ½ cup = Compact

Cheese = 1 ounce = 1 Eyeshadow

Oils & Fats = 1 tablespoon = 1 Mini Bottle of Nail Polish

By using the above chart as your guide, you won’t need to carry around a measuring cup to know how much you really should eat. Use these visual beauty cues as a reminder and your scale will thank you.

One of the biggest mistakes many of us make is eyeballing it and accidentally eating more than we really need. The problem is portion distortion. When we go to restaurants we are often served portions that equate to multiple servings, which is why knowing how to guesstimate your servings is key. Keep things in check by reminding yourself of the proper serving sizes and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a healthy lifestyle or achieving your weight loss goals.

What’s your favorite healthy lunch?

Sound off in the comments below.

Also, what’s been your toughest obstacle in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

XO Lauren

P.S. Here are my sources for this post: USDA Serving Sizes, WebMD, Livestrong. Also, keep in mind that the images above are estimates as they may vary in size. Be sure to check the USDA Serving Size chart or the suggested servings I listed below for more exact amounts.

You might also like…
Tuesday Ten: Slim Your Silhouette
Shape Up: My Bikini Boot Camp Plan
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Friday Favorites

Categories: Grow, Health, Lauren Conrad, Shape Up
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  • Barefoot Duchess

    I can never stick to that =(

  • Karen Torres

    Fabulous post. Hope I can finally drop all the extra pounds.

    Thank you!

    XOXO, Karen

  • Samantha K
  • Melissa Panici

    This is the coolest trick I have seen when it comes to portions! My favorite lunch has been these “”Smart Ones”” meals in the frozen food section. Now I know that there have been some things on the internet about the frozen meals being unhealthy but these are different. They don’t taste fake and it’s like eating chinese food everyday for only 200-300 calories. They have been helping me loose the extra weight that’s hard to get rid of! For supper, I eat one of the meals from your Bikini Boot camp plan. It really works!! Thanks for these tips!

  • Amy Breckenridge

    okay this is really helpful! i am so bad at estimating how much i’m eating…i always try to imagine my baking measuring cups but it doesn’t work! thanks for the great tip!

    xoamy
    http://www.cupcakesncouture.com/2012/08/summer-art-by-inslee.html

  • Reeann Hansen

    Portion control is my number one great problem. I could eat more than most males. With that in mind, I tend to gorge on things with less calories or foods that will give me the most enegy–spinach salad w/ mushrooms, granola, and nuts or 100% whole what pasta with organic tomato sauce :)

  • Rebecca Bakofsky

    These portions are so easy to remember, thank you lauren!

    My favorite healthy meal is a salad with organic baby spinach, broccoli, dry tuna, parmasean cheese, and a dash of balsamic vinegar! This is my go-to salad when I am in school.

    My newest blog entry: http://lamodacitta.blogspot.com/2012/08/fall-fashion-findsso-far.html

  • Rachael Yanta

    What a great way to help with portion control! I love it. Very creative and helpful. My biggest struggle is definitely portion control and snacking. When i get home from work I’m starving so I’ll snack while I cook which I know isn’t the best idea. I need to get better about that for sure!

    http://www.rachaelkhawkins.blogspot.com

  • Meghan Conard

    Great tips – Thanks for the visual comparisons!

    xx-MC

    http://mc2squared.blogspot.com

  • Fiorella Alvarez Gutierrez

    This a definitely great way to figure how much to eat specially when you go out but… I’m trying to loose this last couple pounds (yes around the waistline) so I’m working out very hard and after these intense workout sessions I feel super hungry and I guess that if I eat this little food I might just not be giving my body what it needs so it would be amazing if you could make a post about Before & Atfer workout snacks please!

  • Chelsea Myers

    My favorite healthy lunch is a turkey sandwich on whole grain low calorie break with lots of lettuce, tomatoe, mustard, and a slice or two of avacado!

  • Rachel Trampel

    This is a really great tip for porportions! I love the idea of comparing it to beauty items that I can clearly remember! My issue is porportions throughout the day, it seems I eat too little one meal and too much at the next. I need to be better at this balance for all meals!

    http://www.rachelslookbook.com

  • Petra Zeller

    great tips. I love salads and fruits.

    xo, Petra

    http://www.sweetsoflife86.blogspot.com < --- take a look on my latest outfit post :-)

  • Maggie McDonald

    My number 1 problem has been drinking and going out with my friends. Im 22, single and just moved to a dowtown area. I’m wanting to get out, meet people and have some fun. and unfortunately that has involved a lot of alcohol drinking and going out to eat with new friends. I’m trying to find some kind of health routine that works out, but definitely still struggling with it.

  • chelsea lee bennett

    The pictures of the tiny food and giant burger you linked were hilarious. I have the HARDEST time only eating a small amount of whole grains.. I LOVE me some pasta. Maybe I’ll start trying your spinach in lieu of pasta idea!! I think the hardest part for me is just having (or making) the time to plan out healthy meals, go grocery shopping, pack lunches and snacks for work, etc. It seems I can do this for a few weeks but then I fall off the bandwagon and start eating out again because it’s easier… Siiiigh

  • Dannii Hungry Healthy Happy

    It all depends on the individual too and how much you are working out.

    For the recipes, diet tips and exercises that helped me lose 98lbs and keep it off, come over and like the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/hungryhealthyhappy

  • Rosie Waldherr

    Really good tip!! I’ve heard of the one that says that you should eat as much carbs as the size of your open hand, but honestly, I found that kind of fishy…

    xoRosie

    http://teacupsanddresses.blogspot.com/

  • Eva S.

    I have problems with my portion control sooo thank your for this amazing tip! I have to make sure, that i remember this! :)

  • Sarah Pickell

    This is a great way to remember portion control!! I can totally stick to this :)

  • Patty CatCake

    it is really a cool idea to compare healthy food portions with make up. But this is a easy way to keep it in mind. thanks for posting this.

  • steadydreamer

    My number one issue is portion control and how much I should eat at each serving. If we have something such as Oreos or Oatmeal Cream Pies in the house, I want to eat them, though I shouldn’t. Therefore, I’m trying to eat maybe just one or two small sweet foods a week instead of trying to eat them however, whenever! Soda is also a big issue – I always am going out to eat and I have no problem ordering a salad over a burger – but I never ask for anything other than a cola!

  • Kasia Rymar

    This is definitely something I need to follow now that I’m going back to college soon! http://kasiamaria.blogspot.com/

  • Michelle Bell

    Very good post. I started my mission to lead a healthy lifestyle back in February and it has paid off. I have more energy and have lost 7 pounds to date. I would say the hardest part for me is resisting sweets. I love my cupcakes, and cookies. Now I just try to eat them in moderation. If they don’t fit into my calories for the day. I don’t have any…simple as that.

    I also use myfitnesspal.com to help me track my calories and macronutrients. It is an extemely helpful tool. If any other users are on there or decided to sign up, my username is pinthin87 if you want to add me to your friend’s list. :-)

  • Deanne Castro

    Great tips!

    For more fashion and beauty advice, please visit:
    http://www.myfashavenue.blogspot.ca

    Today’s post: Who Wore it Best? Jessica Biel vs Kerry Washington

    Xo
    Deanne

    Follow me on twitter: @myfashavenue

  • Taylor Hutmacher

    That is sooooo cute! :)

  • Karleigh Sergio

    Wow that is super helpful! My favourite healthy lunch is a small spinach salad with red onion, cucumber, feta, egg, and grilled chicken with a light balsamic vin dressing. As a snack, if I am still hungry, I love munching on blueberries!

  • Lauren Watson

    Thank you so much! This is great :)

  • Karla Peach

    OMG @steadydreamer i am like that as well , everyone i am with always knows i get a coke.. im truley addicted itshard to stop. I mean i have powered through days with out coke before but the second i can i try to get it. Unless i am being really good ( which happened once in my 22 years of life) then i won’t get it.

  • Ale Oken

    My favorite healthy lunch are: Tuna sandwich ( 2 slices of whole grain bread, tuna, avocado and raw vegeatbles) and grilled chicken salad with spinach :D
    My toughest obstacle have been: tacos. (I’m mexican, so there are a taco place almost every corner, I can’t help it they are delicius!)

  • Esther Azalia

    This is awesome! So helpful! :)

  • HistoryBeauty

    Haha! I love this! It helps a lot!

    http://www.youtube.com/HistoryBeauty

  • daniella

    LOVE THIS. I had a great salad once at a restaurant near me but its super easy to duplicate: spinach, fresh mozz, tomato, grilled chicken and portabello mushroom with balsamic vinagrette. YUM!! It’s so hard passing up the burger and nachos thought!

  • bg1234

    You should really re-evaluate what kind of message you are sending to young girls. Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle, but to implicate that eating tiny portions equivilant to the size of your makeup compact is even close to living a healthy lifestlye, then you are delusional. Living a healthy lifestyle means enjoying life, not starving yourself with a piece of chicken the size of a powder compact. Anyone who thinks this is an acceptable way to live needs to think more about fixing their self-esteem and not what size jeans they fit into.

  • Carmeletha Thomas

    Thanks for this. I know i overeat alot.

  • Kylie Miller

    This post is super helpful! Check out my blog: http://thechicstreetblog.blogspot.com/

  • Larissa Wilhelm

    This is super helpful! Thanks Lauren! My fave healthy go-to lunch is Peanut Butter & Banana sandwich on 12-Grain bread, Carrots and veggie dip, strawberries, and maybe some pudding.

  • Kristy Whybird

    My toughest obstacle is that I really LOVE food. And it’s something that I look to for comfort when I feel down.

  • Lucija

    Best post i’ve read on your blog!

  • Sarah Lenzi

    Hi Lauren! I’ve been checking your blog once in a while for months now. I think you do a great job here. I’m sure it inspirates all of us a lot! Many times I’ve had something positive to say about your posts. But was usually reading from work, with a few items blocked and wouldn’t be able to sing up and comment. Now I finally signed up, because after reading this post I was like: OMG, she is amazing! So creative! So surprising everytime.

    I just want to say congratulations for your blog and declarate myself as a new big fan of yours :]

  • Ambi s

    Fabulous post! Here’s my tips to losing weight and looking great :-)

    Bombay Rose: Shape Up.

  • Martin M

    Love the idea to combine it with beauty. Simple and brilliant. When I was younger I was really fat. I lost 20 pounds by hard training. Nowadays I run marathon and did my first triathlon this year. Greetings from Germany :) XOXO

    http://www.look-scout.blogspot.com

    http://www.look-scout.blogspot.com

  • Haley Anderson

    Thank you for this!! I’m bad with guessing portions (too much, not enough), but getting better. This is exactly what I needed :)

  • www.kayleesbridal.com

    There are vegetables, potatoes and fruit quark also dehydrate the body. A lightning diet that promises four to five pounds less.
    http://www.ibridalgowns.ca/trumpet-mermaid-wedding-dresses-13

  • www.kayleesbridal.com

    Great page you have in here. thanks for sharing.
    http://www.ibridalgowns.ca/beach-wedding-dresses-15

  • alex jones

    That’s Great ….Nice Tips

    http://drsnooze.com

  • Jujubear

    I went to buy your beauty book :( But I thought i wouldn’t need it BUT NOW I AM GOING FOR sure <3 ur tips are amazing

  • Joanna Kim
  • Lena Ameri

    This is really helpful! Having a visual always helps and these are really easy. Thanks Lauren!

    For more great tips check out this online magazine: http://www.liveitmag.com/

  • Caroline Grant

    These visuals are so much easier to remember than the common ones thank you x

  • Paulina Mo

    This will definitely be my new reference guide!

    ~Pau
    See my latest outfit! http://www.lilbitsofchic.com

  • Cassie Autumn

    That is my biggest problem! I love healthy fruits but I eat them compulsively! D:

  • Cassie Autumn

    That is my biggest problem! I love healthy fruits but I eat them compulsively! D:

  • Cassie Autumn

    That is my biggest problem! I love healthy foods but I eat them compulsively! D:

  • Cassie Autumn

    That is my biggest problem! I love healthy foods but I eat them compulsively! D:

  • sazinator

    I have a lot of dietary restrictions due to health reasons so my diet consists of mainly meat, veggies, fruit, and a little bit of legumes and nuts; but I don’t know how to portion them so I get enough calories without grains, gluten, oils, soy and dairy ontop of burning about 400 extra calories working out a day I end up feeling so hungry I gorge myself. Anyone have any advice or resources for limited diets? I am also 5’1″” and 110lbs and I know portion is different for different sizes too.

  • sazinator

    I have a lot of dietary restrictions due to health reasons so my diet consists of mainly meat, veggies, fruit, and a little bit of legumes and nuts; but I don’t know how to portion them so I get enough calories without grains, gluten, oils, soy and dairy ontop of burning about 400 extra calories working out a day I end up feeling so hungry I gorge myself. Anyone have any advice or resources for limited diets? I am also 5’1″” and 110lbs and I know portion is different for different sizes too.

  • sazinator

    I have a lot of dietary restrictions due to health reasons so my diet consists of mainly meat, veggies, fruit, and a little bit of legumes and nuts; but I don’t know how to portion them so I get enough calories without grains, gluten, oils, soy and dairy ontop of burning about 400 extra calories working out a day I end up feeling so hungry I gorge myself. Anyone have any advice or resources for limited diets? I am also 5’1″” and 110lbs and I know portion is different for different sizes too.

    • FernandaR

      I cant have gluten, oils or anything that hurts my stomach it can be really hard, i get you.
      I also have to work out and its also due to health reasons so i eat in small plates , i didnt use to eat breakfast now i do i found that having breakfast helps me to feel full all day long so i dont over eat at night wich used to be a problem, also have snacks like dry fruit wich comes in little bags and that helps to get your portions in check.
      I would advice you to eat many vegies, fruits and white meat, if you are like me you know its best to have many little meals trough out the day that to feel sick.. And i also found that the things i love and i can have are good in moderation like iced coffee or popcorn at the movies cause you gotta live a little!
      Also take a cooking class i love to make my own meals and that way its healthy, you keep portions in check and its good for you.
      Hope it help you, xoxo

  • http://www.smart-twenties.com/ Samantha Brown

    Portion control is probably the shortcoming of most diets – we get so focused on exercising and eating the right foods that we don’t focus on how much food to eat! My biggest portion control problem was with pasta and other carbs – I was used to such big servings that they became ‘normal’ and I would always eat them until I was stuffed (and it was so easy since they’re so yummy!)

    Once I found out what the right portion sizes were and started following them it made a huge difference! And I found that after I’d eaten the right portion size I felt full (after a few weeks of adjusting to not feeling stuffed).

    Portion control is the key to weight loss.

    Sam xx
    http://www.smart-twenties.com – how to make the most of your twenties

  • http://www.thesinglediaries.com/ The Single Diaries

    Super cute and extremely helpful!

    Catherine
    TheSingleDiaries.com

  • Katie Albury

    This is most definitely my downfall…my portion sizes were the same as my husband at one point! Love the portion comparisons!
    Katie x
    http://www.missenchanting.co.uk

  • http://thelovelyrevelry.com Alisyn

    This is such a unique way to teach people portion control. Kudos!!

  • Caitlynn Marie Cashatt

    HEALTHY LUNCH: Fiesta spinach salad! YUM Gosh wish I would’ve brought that to lunch with me. HAHA
    OBSTACLE: My biggest problem is making sure I stick with my healthy eating & working out. However, I do try to make sure I have a healthy lifestyle, but it is very hard being a young mom. With my oldest daughter having a soy allergy, my youngest having a long-chain fatty acid disorder and than working 24/7 it’s hard not to be tired when I get home.

  • http://stylesprinter.com/ Style Sprinter

    What a cute guide! It actually makes much easier to understand how much is too much. I’m kind of boring in terms of portions. When I cook, I pack everything in small containers – when the container is over, the lunch/dinner is over. If I am going out, I usually order an appetizer and salad and chip in for dessert. Converting to your guide, no more than nail polish bottle size of dessert per day :)

    http://stylesprinter.com/

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