Curb Hunger and Weight Gain: Simple Tricks for Eyeballing the Right Portion Sizes

After many years of weight loss ups and downs (and a lot of research), I’ve figured out why my weight loss efforts in the past have failed. Rather than eating the right amounts of the right foods, I just focused on trying to cut calories simply by eating less of everything. That dieting strategy often left me feeling hungry and tired because my body wasn’t getting the right nutrients it needed. Sound familiar?

Once I figured out that only cutting calories wasn’t the answer, I adjusted my diet to balance my meals nutritionally. Before I knew it, the weight came off and I felt great! I also used the Zestar app to get recommendations for what and how much I should eat to achieve this nutritional balance and my weight loss goals.

Oftentimes, the biggest challenge for many people is recognizing what your portion sizes are. You don’t need to carry around a food scale and measuring cup everywhere you go to estimate how much you’re eating. Here are some easy tips I use to estimate portion sizes:

  • For some foods, you don’t really need to worry about eating too much because the energy density of those foods is so low, it would be hard to eat more than you should. Most veggies (except the starchy ones like potatoes) fit this category. Fill at least half your plate with non-starchy veggies, which typically comes out to about 1-2 cups.
  • For proteins, I’ve found it easiest to compare the size with household items. A 3 oz. hamburger is the size of a hockey puck. A 4 oz. steak is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • For the starchy veggies, I would recommend using a measuring cup until you get comfortable with what the right portion looks like. A ½ cup serving is about the size of half a baseball.

By applying these tips, I can now pretty accurately estimate how much a proper portion is for me just by looking at it. But, there’s one food that I still measure – salad dressing. Salad dressing is very energy dense and easy to load up on the calories if you’re not careful. And these are the kinds of calories that won’t help you curb your hunger. I always try to stick to no more than 1-2 tbs. of salad dressing, regardless of how much lettuce is in my salad. And when I’m eating out, I always order the dressing on the side so I can spoon on the right amount.

Eating the right amounts of the right foods is the key to losing weight without feeling hungry. I challenge you to find other household items to help you estimate the right portion sizes. Let me know what creative items you come up with!


Zestar co-founder and dedicated Zestar app user Joy Solomon was inspired by her weight loss struggles with diet after diet that did not bring results. Guided by her scientific education and extensive medical and health information background (including CEO of IVI Publishing, the creator of the highly acclaimed Mayo Clinic health information website), Joy delved into the science of weight loss to bring Zestar to life. Join her on her weight loss journey as she blogs about tips and insights that can help you be successful on your weight loss journey too. Read Joy's full bio.

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