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Why Portion Control Is Important & How To Get It Right

Feeling weighed down by overeating? Learn why portion control is important and, when guided by God’s wisdom, can be the key to transforming your life.

This is a difficult topic. It is never easy to lose weight and employ portion control because it’s about far more than just the food itself. We have deeper reasons that drive us to eat, so we need to address those instead of just telling ourselves to eat less (has that ever worked for anyone long-term?). 

We need a strong “why” behind making the hard choice to stick to portion control. 

God says:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

One way we can honor God with our bodies is to be good stewards of our physical health.

How do we do this?

Using portion control as a tool to eat within healthy boundaries for your body is one way. Portion control can help us regulate calorie intake and nutrition intake.

I have struggled with portion control my whole life. 

In my 50s, I hit 349 pounds. I could not even envision doing what I considered extreme dieting, such as a 1200 calorie diet, eating just protein, or eating all low-fat. 

Food was my only friend, the one I turned to at any time when I felt negative emotions or even positive emotions.

I needed to learn to turn to God. I needed to learn to honor Him with my body.

I knew I needed to lose weight. I knew I was regularly eating far too much for my body (and the scales proved that to be true). Honestly, I had been overweight my entire life, and nothing had been successful for me. 

Portion Control Seemed Doable and Manageable

The packages were easy. I could just read the label and have one serving. 

The problem was that I was used to a full bag of chips being one serving—spoiler, it isn’t. 28 grams, or about 12 chips, is a serving. At 349 pounds, 12 chips were a bite or two for me.

I remember M&Ms—a third of the bag was one mouth full. One serving is 28 grams, or about 32 M&Ms. This was definitely an eye-opener. 

Maybe measuring cups would be easier? It seemed more realistic in my mind. Not really. 

A half cup of ice cream was so little. A half cup is filling the measuring cup and then leveling off the top. So, a small ice cream cone at an ice cream stand was more than a serving.

Yes, society has tricked us. We can save money by supersizing our meals at fast food restaurants or by buying a large bag of M&Ms. The cost per unit is less, but, if you’re honest with yourself, doesn’t a bigger package just give you permission to eat that much more? 

If we go to a restaurant, a kid’s meal is closer but still bigger than a real adult portion should be. 

Can you imagine sitting down to a restaurant meal and asking for a 4 ounce steak, half a cup of mashed potatoes, and non-starchy vegetables? The restaurant wouldn’t know what to do with you, and you would pay the same amount. 

Read on to see how I got portion control to work for me, how I lost 140 pounds, how God is the center of my weight loss, and how you can do this as well. 

Why Portion Control is Important

A plate of food with meat and rice and cherry tomatoes with a text overlay that reads as Why Portion Control Is Important & How To Get It Right.

Do you have to count calories to lose weight? 

Not necessarily, but read this for a more in-depth answer.

Watching your portions and having just one serving can be helpful for you to regulate your eating without having to count your calories. 

Weight Management

It can be important for overall health and wellness to know what and how much we are eating and what we are taking for nutrition. 

Why? Because this is how we fuel our bodies, control our weight, and become good stewards of our physical health. 

Tracking Calories & Portions

I use My Fitness Pal, a free app. This way, if I lose weight in one week, I can go back and see what I ate and repeat it. If I gain weight, I can go back over what I ate and adjust it. 

Tracking should not be about judgment, it should only be about having data so that we know what has happened and what we can do differently.

When tracking, make sure to read those packages for what a serving size is and to measure with measuring cups, spoons, and/or food scales.

Improved Nutrient Intake

God created our bodies to work with proper nutrition. Our society has created a lot of “foods” that are not true food sources, such as Twinkies, brownies, chips, and other junk foods.

In honoring God with our bodies and being good stewards, it is best to get the proper nutrition that God has created our bodies to desire and flourish with.

Proper portion control looks like 4-6 ounces of protein at each meal, half a cup of carbohydrates (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and squash), and a lot of non-starchy vegetables (lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, etc.). 

If we portion each meal, it can help provide the proper nutrition for our bodies.

Giving our bodies the nutrition that God designed them to need is showing God that we are listening and following His guidance.

It is not easy, but we have God to give us strength:

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength”

Philippians 4:13

Preventing Overeating

Praying and having God’s strength will help us to eat within portion guidelines and not to overeat.

I couldn’t trust myself to know when I was full. Full never came to me until I was stuffed and often, even then, I would ignore it.

I had to track my food and tell myself, “No, I just ate the correct portion for dinner, I don’t need to eat again for 2-4 hours.” This was a challenge for me. 

I was a person who would finish lunch and 30 minutes later want to eat. I had to constantly remind myself that I was going to honor God with my body.

I would remind myself:

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

1 Corinthians 9:25

My game was transforming my body to honor God and my crown was so much better than a finisher trophy. 

You can do this, with God’s help.

Chronic Disease Management

When I began my weight loss at a high of 349 pounds I was borderline diabetic, and probably diabetic except the doctor didn’t diagnose me as such yet. On a good day my blood pressure was 140/90 with blood pressure medication. 

Through prayer, portion control, weight loss, and support I now am well under being even borderline diabetic. My blood pressure with no medications is 120/80. 

At my last doctor’s appointment, my doctor said, “You are too healthy to need me”. I have never heard this in my life.

I did this to honor God, and He is supplying me with all kinds of great benefits.

Now that I am at a healthier weight and honoring God with my body, my body is responding as God intended, with greater health. 

I also have been diagnosed with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, my immune system fights my own red blood cells. While this is not a weight related disease, since I lost weight, this is also managed better.

I can handle the treatments for the autoimmune disorder better now and am in remission, hopefully for a long time. 

God is always with us. 

He has been with me for weight management, for disease control, for even those times when I just wanted one more cookie. He never sleeps. His strength is forever.

“He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121: 3-4

How to Get Portion Control Right

When measuring at home, use a food scale, measuring cups and spoons for precise measurements. 

I was amazed how much 1 tablespoon of peanut butter was. It is not a heaping cupboard tablespoon. It is a 1 TBSP measuring spoon leveled off. 

The same as a three quarter cup of cereal is not 3 – quarter cups heaping into a bowl and then when it doesn’t look quite enough, adding just a little more. Yes, I did this. 

Especially in the beginning of portion control, always measure accurately. 

Visual Cues vs. Measurements

A food scale measured in grams is the most accurate. You can take 12 chips, but all chips vary some (unless they are pringles), but it is best to measure the 28 grams on your scale. 

What about when you are out and don’t have measuring tools with you?

Use this handy guide below:

Visual hand guide to portion sizes. Shows the amount of food that can fit in a closed fist, cupped hand, palm, and fingertip, representing recommended serving sizes for various food groups.

Reading Food Labels

Reading food labels is a science, but it can be learned.

I will go over this briefly, for more in depth, you can read Understanding Food Labels

The food label is usually found on the back of packaged food. Here is an example:

Nutrition facts label for a 16-ounce bottle of sweetened tea. One serving is 8 ounces, which contains 70 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrates (including 18 grams of added sugars), and 0 grams of fat or protein.

You can also see total protein, which is 0 and total fat, which is 0. 

With portion control, the most important part to examine is servings. 

This is a bottle of sweetened tea, and most of us would figure that a whole bottle would be a serving, otherwise why would they sell a whole bottle. Makes sense. 

But no, the bottle has 2 servings. 

So, you are out on a road trip, pick up this tea and drink it. You just drank 140 calories with 36 grams of carbohydrates, which as we can see on this label all 36 carbohydrates are from sugar.

Reading the label will give us great information that we can use to make informed choices and honor God with our decisions.

Using Smaller Plates

I cannot emphasize enough how much this simple tip helps.

Let’s look at a visual to help:

Three plates of different sizes displaying identical portions of tuna, carrots, and rice to illustrate portion control.

If you sit down with the 8.5 inch plate, your mind will tell you that you have a lot of food, it covers the plate. 

If you sit down with the 12 inch plate, your mind tells you either that you are deprived because you can’t fill the plate or that you need more. 

What we see does impact how we feel. 

I now eat off baby plates. Yes, I bought toddler plates and eat my meals off those. At times my food hangs off the plate. 

I feel so blessed to be able to eat so much, or so my eyes tell me.

Mindful Eating Practices

This tip is one of the most difficult for me. I like to work and eat or watch TV and eat. 

How many times have you sat down to a movie or TV show with a bowl of popcorn and after a little while you reach into the bowl to find no more popcorn. You look around to see who took it all.

You gained no enjoyment from that food and probably ate more than you should have. 

With portion control, you only took the exact, measured amount of one serving, right?

When we eat, we should first thank God for His many blessings with our food and our life, then enjoy our food.

  • Make a pretty place setting.
  • Maybe use candle light. 
  • Put on some soft music.
  • Have discussions with your family about your day.
  • Eat one bite and put down your fork to chew and enjoy.
  • Take your time and savor every bite.
  • Once you feel satisfied, not full, stop.

Sara from the Holy Mess has 5 Mindful Eating Techniques that can help you as you are losing weight. 

Strategies for Portion Control in Different Settings

Remember to use those measuring tools we spoke of earlier when at home. Measure with cups, spoons and a food scale.

If you buy a large box of an item, let’s say teddy grahams, then read the label, determine the serving size and pre-portion them into baggies. 

Eating at Home

Pre-portioning allows you to know you are having just one serving when you want that treat.

As you shop, remember to read those labels to see what is your best nutrition buy. Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 has a great article on 7 Healthy Grocery Shopping Tips to help you.

You can also prepare meals and/or ingredients ahead of time to be a good steward with your money as well as your body. 

Meal prepping can assure that all your meals are ready and then you don’t have to think about what you will eat, you just follow your plan.

Dining Out

As I promised earlier, there are practical tips for going to the restaurant and doing portion control.

  • Look at menus ahead of time to know what you will order.
  • Forgo appetizers and desserts.
  • If you can, order off the kid’s menu.
  • If you can’t order off the kid’s menu, then ask for a box to come to your table with your meal.
  • Immediately place half of your meal in the box and close it.
  • Remember those hand cues for portion sizes.

Social Gatherings

Social gatherings are tough. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not trying their foods, and honestly you want to try all the foods.

There are some tips on how to manage portion control at parties and events.

  • Use small plates, as small as you can find.
  • Scan the options first and make healthy choices, remember we are honoring God with our bodies, even at parties and events.
  • When eating, practice mindful eating and enjoy your choices
  • Stay hydrated with water or calorie free drinks
  • Socialize away from the food area.

Overcoming Emotional Eating Using Portion Control

Emotional eating is difficult to overcome, but you can do this. 

I was an emotional eater, you can read about my journey and how I overcame it with God’s help. 

Portion control can give you some control as you deal with emotions. Whether you are feeling happy or sad, you know that you need to eat one serving of your choice food.

This is where Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 really shines. They guide you through steps to overcome emotional eating. I encourage you to explore what they have to offer. They definitely helped to guide me to food freedom.

Gradual Implementation

It is important to implement just one small change at a time.

First, pray, ask God for strength and guidance through every step.

Seek support, such as Christian Weight loss facebook group and/or Faithful Finish lines 2.0.

Then concentrate on one area to focus your portion control and then go to the next area. 

If you love junk food, first have the junk, but only one portion. Later, you can work on changing out the unhealthy food for healthier.

The way I lost 140 pounds was through one small step at a time. I am a person who wants to do it all, now. Well, that didn’t work for many years. 

I had to grow close to God first, and I did that with the guidance of Faithful Finish Lines 2.0.

I then had to go through so many trials and errors to see what worked for me.

God led me to weight loss surgery, which helped me to successfully implement portion control, which lowered my calorie count.

I lost weight and was then able to move more and want to move more.

FAQs About Why Portion Control Is Important

How do I know if my portions are too big?

  • Pray for discernment.
  • Ask yourself if you are satisfied after each meal.
  • After a week, if you lost weight your portions are good, if you didn’t lose analyze your tracker and see where you can adjust. 

Can I still lose weight even if I occasionally indulge in larger portions?

  • Ask yourself if the indulging is to seek comfort or just liking the taste – remember we are doing this to honor God with our bodies, go to Him for comfort.
  • There is balance to life, we are all going to eat a piece of cake or have a serving of chips some time in life, plan for these and enjoy them.

If you do fall short, ask for God’s forgiveness. He is here and He will help you.

How can I practice portion control with foods that are difficult to measure?

  • Seek guidance from God, through prayer.
  • Use the hand guide above.
  • Google items, it can be helpful to provide tools for you.

What if I find it discouraging to track portion sizes all the time?

  • It is best to track food at the beginning of your journey. It gives you a guide as you move on.
  • You can learn cues to your hunger and fullness and do intuitive eating as time goes on.
  • Place your trust in the Holy Spirit to help guide you in your food choices.

Portion control is one way we can honor God with our bodies, through improving our physical health. 

God doesn’t care if you weigh 100 pounds or 500 pounds, He loves you anyway. 

But He does want you to be healthy and to enjoy the body He designed for you.

I am so much happier now, at 140 pounds less than I began. I’m closer to God, because every day, all day, I ask Him to guide my decisions. I am not embarrassed or ashamed to go to Him now.

I encourage you to join the free Facebook group Christian Weight Loss for support and to think of joining Faithful Finish Lines for their valuable guidance through 10 steps to losing weight and growing closer to God.

A plate of dessert with a fork and spoon and a text overlay that reads as Why Portion Control Is Important & How To Get It Right.

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