Central to any regimented diet program is the ability to control intake. Utilizing calories to construct meal plans is awkward, time consuming and usually does achieve the desired results. Weight loss programs that institute portion limitations within the structure of their regimens are far superior to those that depend on calorie counts to achieve their goals. In order to provide the best guidance to a dieter knowing the difference between portion size and serving size is a must. Portions are the amount of food on your plate. Servings are a predetermined amount of food measured by common methods such as cups, teaspoons or other measuring devices. Common to most dieters is their portion sizes are larger than their physical requirements. The body will only burn a percentage of food intake, the rest is stored in areas dieters would rather not discuss. For many supersizing their portions is occurring in and outside their favorite eateries. To support this thesis a quick trip to your local hamburger establishment will confirm that every third meal served is supersized. Usually this means the fries and the soda move from regular to enormous proportions doubling the caloric content of an already calorie intense meal. Recently a controversy in New York City made national headlines. Mayor Bloomberg decided he was going to interject his two cents concerning the City’s major obesity problem. His methodology sodas and other drinks dispensed from restaurants cannot exceed 16 ounces. This mandate met with a furor within the confines of New York and stirred a national debate. Should the government use its powers to limit your food intake, the legal challenge is yet to play out. Portion size is the control point where obesity starts and the mayor is on the right path, yet personal choice should not be micromanaged by any government agency. Precluding government interference, there are hundreds of diet programs in existence, but few have made the grade because they are too cumbersome manage. Weight Watchers uses a point system which attaches numbers to foods and foods groups. This approach does not preclude eating unhealthy foods as long as they equate to the point allocations in their diet regimen. Programs based on caloric estimations alone tend not to be as successful as those utilizing visual cues to estimate serving sizes. The Millenium Diet has been very popular because it emphasizes serving size based on a select group of foods to encourage expeditious weight reduction.
Presently most commercial food containers, boxes or bags are labeled both in ounces and grams. Serving sizes are also clearly marked with one caveat who does these portions apply to, a 250 pound male or a 110 pound female. The latter information is not available so it is not as valuable as the weight measures. An average cereal bowl is 12 ounces, one cup measure is 8 ounces, a tablespoon ½ ounce and a teaspoon 1/6 of an ounce. With these measures a diet regimen can enumerate portion sizes in a logical manner. To enable those who frequent restaurants comparative measures by visual cues is extremely helpful to limit portion size. A slice of bread or ½ of a bagel comes close to the size of an index card. One half cup of cooked rice or pasta is close in volume to a billiard’s ball. One quarter cup of raisins, apricots or nuts approaches an average size egg. A cup of peas and carrots or green vegetables displaces the volume of a baseball. Four to six ounces of meat or fish is defined by the palm of your hand with a thickness of ½ inch. Three ounces of meat or fish can be compared to a normal deck of cards. Two tablespoons of nuts, seeds or rice is close in volume to a ping pong ball. A teaspoon of margarine is a size of one die. Imperfect as these crude measures are they have worked for millions to reduce weight and maintain it. Avoid double portions, supersizing, seconds, double scoops or triple scoops. Buffets are an anathema to the dieter, stay away. Diets constructed with portions as the central core of their regimens are the most successful I have seen over a three decade period. Pre-portioned mail order programs may be helpful in one sense but many times contain foods that are unhealthy. For a very successful program that emphasizes portion control in rational format review, The Millenium Diet, The Practical Guide for Rapid Weight Loss. This program was built on the experiences of thousands of dieters over a ten year period. Whichever regimen you decide make sure it is adaptable to your lifestyle, economically sound and has a long history that it works. Mark Davis MD, platomd@gmail.com

Author's Bio: 

Mark Davis MD
Author:The Millenium Diet, The Practical Guide for Rapid Weight Loss. Demons of Democracy and the forthcoming book: Obamacare: Dead on Arrival. Dr. Davis has written hundreds of articles covering a wide spectrum of health care, politics and other fields.
President of Healthnets Review Services: Registered state and federal lobbyist for healthcare and related issues