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Keep Diabetic Diet Food Portions Under Control

Tips and Strategies for Portion Control


Updated September 16, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

All foods can fit in a diabetic diet plan, as long as you keep your food portions under control. Portion control can be challenging, so it is a good idea to come up with a few strategies to help you stick to proper portions. Here are some strategic ideas to help keep you "on plan," as well as some links to detailed meal planning and portion control articles that you may also find helpful.

Strategies for Diabetic Diet Food Portion Control:

  • Use salad plates instead of dinner plates. Eat snacks out of small bowls instead of big ones. This will help to make your portions seem larger and more satisfying, making you less likely too serve yourself a portion that is too large.
  • Purchase snacks in 100-calorie snack packs or single-serving containers. If you buy a big package of snacks instead, portion them into single-serving (about 1/2 cup) baggies when you get home from the store.
  • Stick to a meal plan in which you eat at least 3 times a day. If you are getting hungry between meals and don't already have snacks built into your plan, then ask your dietitian to build 1 to 2 snacks into your meal plan. Stick to this routine to help maintain blood sugar and avoid getting too hungry -- when you're too hungry, you are more likely to overindulge and eat portions that are too large.
  • When you're at a gathering or restaurant where you'll be eating buffet-style, choose a seat that is farther from the buffet and doesn't face the food. Try to take a good scan of the buffet before you start to fill your plate so that you can already be thinking about what would be good for you to eat. Think about The Plate Method when you're filling up: make half your plate veggies, 1/4 lean protein, and 1/4 starch.
  • If your friends are not healthy eaters, then encourage social events that do not involve eating or suggest restaurants that have healthier menu options and try for lunch rather than dinner meetings where you'll be less inclined to have alcoholic beverages (which provide empty calories and often cause you to overeat).
  • Don't wear expandable waist pants; instead wear something that will make you more conscious of if you eat too much. Whether you're out or having a relaxing day at home, this tip may help you realize when you've eaten one portion size too many and need to stop.
  • Eat a small snack, (like a piece of fruit or a sugar-free yogurt) before going out to a social gathering to help curb your hunger. If you show up hungry you'll be more likely to eat portions that are too big.
  • Measuring and weighing food is not always practical, so learn to estimate correct portions using common objects. See Sizing for pictures and more tips on this.
  • If you're not sure what is the correct portion size of a favorite family recipe, seek out a registered dietitian who can complete a nutritional analysis on the recipe and/or give you tips on how to make the recipe more diabetic-friendly. Go to Find A Dietitian to search for a dietitian offering this service in your area, or look for an online recipe analysis service.

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