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How Do I Control My Portion Sizes?

How Do I Control My Portion Sizes?

By Ali Spencer, RD

May 22, 2017

Updated Nov 17, 2023

5 min read


When your stomach is empty, it can hold about one cup of food, and it can stretch to hold four or more cups. But just because your stomach can stretch that far doesn’t mean it needs to. Becoming familiar with portion sizes gives you a good starting point for controlling your weight.

While measuring and weighing your food is the best way to control portion sizes, you can use common household items to estimate healthy portions. You can adjust your intake up or down based on your personal needs, your hunger, and cues about when you’re full.

RELATED: Healthy Snacks at Work

Six Household Items to Help with Portion Sizes

  1. Baseball – a baseball is about one cup and can be used to measure fruits, vegetables, pasta, French fries, and yogurt.
  2. Light bulb – This is about a half cup, good for estimating portions of beans/lentils, potatoes, rice, ice cream, and grapes.
  3. Deck of cards – About 3 ounces, which is a good portion size for meat or a piece of cake.
  4. Golf ball – (about a quarter of a cup) – this is a good frame of reference for things like sour cream, dried fruit, or nuts.
  5. Floss dispenser (or 2-inch square) – This size is a great starting point for sweets like chocolate and brownies
  6. Poker chips – 1 poker chip is about 1 Tbsp and is a great way to eyeball portions for peanut butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise, butter, and oil

Dietician Ali Spencer explains how these common items around your house can help with portion sizes.