Portion Telling

July 5, 2011
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

91693926Practice savvy portion control.

Humorist Carl Ottavi once said, “The popularity of dieting proves that people will go to great lengths to avoid going to great widths.” But despite the myriad of diets and fitness info out there, worldwide obesity is on the rise. In fact, seven out of ten Americans are overweight or obese. In today’s petrochemical world, the fatter you are, the more toxins you’re retaining, which is why a detox program—like Fat Flush—should always accompany weight loss.

One very simple underlying reason explains why Americans are getting fatter. Over the last three decades portion sizes (think bran muffins and bagels) have slowly but surely doubled (or quadrupled!) in size. Even our dishes have become larger—by several inches in fact—so we can pile on more food. This began in the early 80s when food companies began making larger portions, so people naturally ate more and their waistlines expanded.

Instead of counting calories—which I never believed in anyway—it’s so much easier to smart-size your diet. Eat lots of veggies and about 6-8 ounces of lean protein to trigger the fat-burning hormone glucagon, which mobilizes fat from storage. Use this guide to size up the most commonly over-consumed foods—fats, fruits, and starches. When I review personal diet histories, these food groups are the single biggest diet culprits, either through omission or plain excess.

Slimming Fats
Fat is your BFF when it comes to weight loss. The right kind of fat provides the “satiety factor” and is the most potent blood sugar stabilizer of all. In many cases several of these oils are natural anti-inflammatories that also inhibit weight gain and help to balance hormones. About 2 servings daily is all you need to meet your body’s requirements. Each food source is broken down to the equivalent of one tablespoon of oil.

Hi-lignan flax oil, fish oil, extra-virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, or coconut oil (1 tablespoon); nut or seed butters—peanut, almond, sesame, or tahini (1 tablespoon); avocado (1/2 small); almonds (7); cashews (5); peanuts (10); pecan halves (4); macadamia nuts (3); walnuts (4 or 1 tablespoon chopped)

Fruits are loaded with enzymes, minerals (such as potassium), vitamin C, and fiber—which are potent disease fighters and natural cleansers for the system. Each fruit portion size listed is about 10 carbohydrate grams. Enjoy at least 2 servings each day and take advantage of the succulent summer fruits.

• Plums (2); apple, pear, nectarine, peach, or kiwi fruit (1); grapes (10); cherries (12); melon (1 cup); blueberries (3/4 cup); raspberries (1 cup); strawberries (1 1/4 cup); grapefruit, papaya, mango, or banana (1/2); unsweetened applesauce (1/2 cup); raisins (2 tablespoons); unsweetened orange juice or grapefruit juice (1/2 cup); apple juice (1/3 cup)

Starchy Vegetables, Grains, and Beans
Each serving is equal to about 15 carbohydrate grams. This group adds up very quickly, so if weight loss is your goal, keep to about two servings per day. For weight maintenance and heavy workouts, up to four servings will fuel your body. Keep in mind that a total of 60 carb grams per day is what it takes for some individuals with a sluggish metabolism to lose weight.

• Winter squash (1/2 cup); peas (3/4 cup); corn (1/2 cup); butternut or acorn squash (1/2 cup); baked potato with skin (1 small); pumpkin (3/4 cup); sweet potato (1 small); parsnip (1 whole); rutabaga (1 small); chestnuts (4 large or 6 small); cooked brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, or whole grain noodles (1/2 cup); whole grain bread (1 slice); small tortilla (1); air-popped popcorn (5 cups); whole grain pita pocket, whole grain English muffin, or whole grain bagel (1/2); beans—navy, lima, kidney, black, pinto, garbanzo, soy, lentils, or split peas (1/2 cup)

Just remember, size matters. When you are on portion control, you will be setting a strong foundation for staying thin and healthy for life.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Sarah

    Who would eat 3 macadamia nuts?

  2. elsie

    the same person who would eat 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

  3. Suzanne

    And who is going to eat a half a cup of rice or quinoa,, whole grain noodles?

  4. Renee

    Half a cup of rice or quinoa is actually quite filling and is considered a portion on most diet plans.

  5. Gail

    Renee, you are correct. As for the person who does portion control, that’s the person who got tired of respitory problems, tired of having joint problems, tired of having a puffy face, bags under the eyes, split ends, lack of energy, carb rushes and crashes, sugar rushes and crashes and most of all, tired of a lifestyle of being underweight or overweight because I was living up to a false ideal or using food as comfort. You don’t have to live a lifestyle of portion control but what’s going on inside can’t be seen on the outside so don’t make someone feel uncomfortable because they are living a different eating lifestyle than the one you are.


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