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ABBY_ROAD Posts: 4,295
7/8/15 8:36 A

Portion control in my opinion is difficult. I did get a lot of good ideas on how to overcome this brick wall when I asked about Portion Plates:
Use measuring cups for serving "spoons"
Weigh everything
Portion plates don't measure vertically (I didn't think about this, but true)

GRANDMAOFETHAN SparkPoints: (4,157)
Fitness Minutes: (5,341)
Posts: 8
7/5/15 9:39 P

Hello, I just started the program, how do you know which are "free" vegetables? Should I measure other veggies raw or after I cook them? I would appreciate any input! Should I measure other foods before or after cooking?

WHYNOTJ1 SparkPoints: (119,848)
Fitness Minutes: (122,971)
Posts: 5,713
9/24/14 3:00 P

For the recipes I have the hardest time not overeating, I only make them for company or special holidays or to bring to a potluck. I don't keep the leftovers in the house.

WHYNOTJ1 SparkPoints: (119,848)
Fitness Minutes: (122,971)
Posts: 5,713
9/24/14 2:57 P

I skimmed the responses quickly so I might have missed it. Why not get some individual-sized baking dishes or foil pans. Prepare the mixture in a large bowl or pot, then pre-portion it into smaller servings. Another thing to try is portioning out the servings in the kitchen and putting any leftovers into other appropriate sized containers before you eat. Instead of making a big batch, you could make half a recipe.

ENGLISHBLUEBELL SparkPoints: (1,870)
Fitness Minutes: (61)
Posts: 88
9/23/14 2:01 A

Possible weight out the receipt ingredients before cooking using a digital kitchen nutrition label scale.

These digital scales are easily purchased online. One I like and currently using is made by Kitrics Inspired Precision - sold via

The Nutrition Facts are super easy to read, easy to switch between grams or oz. Lots of features, nice on off button, takes up little to no space, and would fit in a kitchen drawer.

Handy tare weight feature plus lots of food codes - takes a lot of the guess-work out of the way. Nice instant feed back display for daily calorie count, percentage of fat, protein, carbohydrates, sugars, sodium, and more.

I think it even comes with a feature allowing one to add to an item already in the weight tray.

Best Regards

SANDYSCHWAN SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (648)
Posts: 2
9/22/14 6:03 P

I've lost 64 pounds and could not have done it without measuring everything that goes into my mouth as well as calorie counting and daily exercise. It is a constant struggle and probably always will be. emoticon

CHEBBA Posts: 796
9/21/14 11:50 A

In the end, this is about choice. Deep down, we know when we're playing Russian Roulette with portions - well, I do, and some days, weeks or months are better or worse than others. If I choose to 'eyeball' portions, or not track something honestly… I've cheated me. It's a pain having to weigh just about everything, but I use the cumulative scale, where I put the plate on there, add the items and zero the dial in-between each different one. The food sometimes gets a bit cold, but it is what it is. The cups, scales, even the SP visual guide is useful - and when making something from scratch, I prepare all the items first, weigh them, tot it all up on a bit of paper and then divide into portions afterwards. I can then enter the ingredients into the tracker. It's a bind sometimes - but so is being overweight. As I say, it's down to choices. SP is choc- full of wonderful people, personal experiences and freely-given advice - and the SP nutrition resources are brilliant. So is the SP cookery book. For those of us in England or in countries which don't use USA measurements, the efforts to which we have to go with all of this is often much more laborious, with conversions etc. But it's worth it in the end, it really is.

Good luck - you can do this! I'm rooting for you - and me, grin! I sometimes struggle, too!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

NOMORESHMOO Posts: 2,205
9/18/14 1:39 A

I have the scales and special serving spoons that have the measurement listed, however I had problems with casseroles as well. Lasagna and Shepherd's pie look unappetizing upside down or torn up. I have several different casserole dishes, so I have created a grid system for each. It is created with butcher twine and I put it over the top of the dish to help me cut even slices.

GETHNOW SparkPoints: (7,530)
Fitness Minutes: (100)
Posts: 223
9/16/14 2:25 P

If I don't measure everything, I over eat way too much. My eyes can not judge a tsp vs a cup. Amazing. So I agree with measure, measure, and measure.

NORIVI33 Posts: 263
9/16/14 10:39 A


JONEC14333 SparkPoints: (51,291)
Fitness Minutes: (47,030)
Posts: 546
9/15/14 4:04 P

Add me to the group that says MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE. Add all the ingredients together or use the carbohydrate calorie count on the package, and divide into manageable portions. The recipe tool in the nutrition section is really helpful for things that you make all the time. I have a scale, measuring cups and spoons handy at all times, especially when I snack. Is a tablespoon of mayonnaise really a tablespoon, or TWO? No "heaping" anything, except coffee or tea.
DON'T MEASURE FREE VEGGIES: celery, lettuce, uncooked broccoli, spinach, etc. etc.
That will encourage you to eat more of them because they really don't count.

9/15/14 3:20 P

Add me to the list of people recommending measuring cups. I bought a set for home and for work and that has been a really huge help.

LGANDAB SparkPoints: (5,443)
Fitness Minutes: (4,255)
Posts: 93
9/14/14 8:31 P

I cook almost everything from scratch. I enter the recipe into SparkRecipes, determine the number of servings, and immediately portion the dish into the corresponding number of Tupperware containers. There's no room for over-serving because I also don't keep extra food around the house... if I eat two servings of my dinner one night, I won't have any food the next!

ALIHIKES Posts: 4,456
9/14/14 6:08 P

I try to use cookbooks that include nutritional information and serving size. And I add lots of veggies to chilis and curries! I measure the servings as described in the cookbook (i.e., if the chili recipe says it will make six 1.5 cup servings, I serve it with a measuring cup).

NSCARNEY Posts: 339
9/14/14 2:04 P

Try not to get too wrapped around the axle over mixed or ethnic things. That said, the recipe analyzer is a wonderful tool! Sometimes for things I've made myself, I'll substitute the data for a prepackaged food, figuring that the one I've made is probably at least as healthy.

9/14/14 10:54 A

I use the spark recipe analyzer and make sure I stick to the portion size I indicated in the recipe. This means that after making an entire meal, I have to weigh or measure the entire thing so I know, for example, that it made 6 cups total, so each serving is 1 cup (or whatever I decide).

This works well for thicker dishes that stay mixed fairly evenly, such as casseroles, chili, etc. For soups and stews it is trickier because each serving can have varying amounts of each ingredient. For that I have to figure it out the best I can by measuring the amount of liquid and then adding the calories for that type of broth, then measuring out the solids to the best of my ability and adding in those.

ZELDA13 SparkPoints: (79,833)
Fitness Minutes: (26,215)
Posts: 3,497
9/9/14 9:42 P

I have also searched Spark for a similar recipe and either just used it in my tracker, adjusted my recipe or you are also able to edit an existing recipe to fit your needs. It's a little quicker and for me works just as well.

TERRIE2014 SparkPoints: (1,560)
Fitness Minutes: (113)
Posts: 75
9/9/14 5:47 P

When I helped my neighbor sell Tupperware, we had an idea that a lot of people liked. We sold containers with the plan that people should portion out the servings and immediately put the extra servings into refrigerator containers. Of course, now there are much cheaper containers available, but the plan still works for me. If it serves 4, I put 1/4 of it away. My hubby usually eats 2 servings because he works hard. (I know he needs to lose weight, but he snacks on bad things if I don't give him a big supper!) If it serves 6, I put half of it away.
Hope this helps!

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,764
9/9/14 1:11 P


AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
9/8/14 2:10 P

The size of the plate is kind of beside the point. You need to weigh/measure every ingredient.

If entry is a challenge, try using favorites, groupings and the recipe builder in your nutrition tracker.

PATTIEMCD Posts: 1,107
9/8/14 1:58 P

If accuracy matters to you, then measure or weigh individual food portions that you are actually going to consume. Your calories/fats/carbs/etc. won't be true if you are making more than one serving of a mixed meal. For example... If you make a beef stew for the family, divide the recipe by how many servings will be served, then it makes your tracking less accurate because each serving will not have the exact same amounts of each ingredient. Measuring and weighing foods that you are preparing for just one serving is really the only way you will know how much to track in your nutrition tracker for yourself (accurately).

9/6/14 4:01 P

I build a recipe for meals that have multiple ingredients. It has worked great for me. I do cook a lot of foods in that category like Chili, soups, chicken divan, homemade pizza and such. I build recipes two different ways. One for an individual serving and one for multiple servings and then put a serving on my plate. Either way works! For most everything else, I use measuring cups, spoons and scales. Only way for me!

BBSWHATH Posts: 11
9/5/14 2:02 P

If making it myself, I first figure calories for all ingredients separately and total.
After I decide number of servings that is in the whole recipe I divide the total calories by the number of servings to figure the calories for my recipe. Love the Spark people recipe calculator for helping find the values in a new recipe.
If I buy something ready made I use the calculations on the package and figure the number of servings I want from that package (sometimes you want more or less that their figures).
Most importantly do what everyone else is saying, MEASURE, to be accurate.

MARYJOANNA Posts: 6,644
9/5/14 5:40 A

Measure everything. That way you are sure one cup is one cup.

WITCHYONE333 SparkPoints: (9,771)
Fitness Minutes: (4,411)
Posts: 64
9/5/14 5:31 A

Spark Recipes has a place where you can input your own recipes, decide on the number of servings per recipe and it calculates the nutrients and calories for you. Then it's up to you to measure it out. It's even okay to go back for seconds, as long as you measure them out and log them.
Be totally honest in your measurements.
My dad used to have a tablespoon of peanut butter when he needed a protein (he was diabetic). he would take a tablespoon and scoop out as much as he possibly could fit on the spoon. It was more like 4 tablespoons.

BROOKLYN_BORN Posts: 7,561
9/2/14 5:57 A

I weigh the whole thing. Divide the total weight by number of servings. Then whenever I make that dish, I weigh my own portion to be sure I have ONE serving. Sometimes I do have more than a single serving, but at least I'm honest with myself and can enter it properly in the tracker.

Oh yeah, I weigh the casserole dish and serving plate separately first.

TIFFFIT Posts: 1,765
9/1/14 11:28 A

I went back to your original post; it sounds like you're serving yourself which leads me to believe that you're either cooking the meals yourself or bringing them home. If you're cooking, I'd say definitely take advantage of the calculator on In the past, I've entered a recipe according to how I prepare it and then determined how many servings it should make based on the nutritional data. The tough part can be doling it out, which is what it sounds like you're asking. The first couple times you make it you might need to be creative--dirty up a couple of bowls so you can divide it evenly into two, four or six servings (however many you've decided it makes) and then measure how much is in each bowl. From then on, you can just measure that much when you make or buy the same recipe again. If you're using commercially prepared foods, you may find the total servings on the package but if not I always err on the side of caution and guess low (1 cup for a calorie-dense product like chili or curry, 1.5 for broth-based soups or stews).

AUNTIEOF2 Posts: 11
8/30/14 10:30 P

If it is something I make/eat often I love to go to sparksrecipes and use the feature where you can enter your recipe and number of servings and it gives you all the nutrition info. It does take a bit of time but once it is done I enter it in my favorites and also write the info down on my recipe. Looking at the nutrition info is what helps me determine what the serving size should be. It is sometimes very eye opening and I will alter the recipe to make it less calories of fat.

Edited by: AUNTIEOF2 at: 8/30/2014 (22:33)
BHENDRICK2 Posts: 1,211
8/30/14 7:21 P

i use a food scale myself and keep foods separate that helps

JONEC14333 SparkPoints: (51,291)
Fitness Minutes: (47,030)
Posts: 546
8/30/14 3:08 P

I almost always measure things, even now that I am on maintenance. Now that I have been measuring for a while, my eyeball is pretty good.

SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,367)
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
Posts: 27,128
8/30/14 1:38 A

My casseroles etc. are loaded with veges, and generally have quite a few lentils/Red Kidney Beans, Cannellini Beans or Chick Peas, as well. my 'meat' serve is nearly always nearly a whole serve of veges. I am nearly always within my carb/fat/protein ranges, as well as calories. I weigh all the items. I suggest that if you keep an eye on your numbers, you will see if you need to tweak anything, and what for the future.

I make my soups/casseroles in bulk and freeze them down in single serve containers. I divide the ingredients used by the number of serves and enter that into the tracker, including saving it into Groupings. Just make sure you make it easily identifiable with labels prior to freezing.


SHOTOKIDO SparkPoints: (101,572)
Fitness Minutes: (22,834)
Posts: 3,832
8/29/14 11:49 P

This is a challenge, particularly if the food is already prepared.

It's one more reason to cook.

Using a food scale and other measuring implements in the course of cooking is very helpful.

MARTHA324 Posts: 6,065
8/29/14 4:55 P

I usually measure out a cup or 1 1/2 cups of stews, chilis and find that usually satisfies me. If I follow a recipe that will give me the portion size I should be eating.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,296
8/29/14 4:17 P

look at the portions of food that you put in to get an idea of what you're getting out. so say your curry starts with one cup of dry rice, a cup of chopped zucchini, a 10 oz box of frozen spinach, a half cup of chopped peppers, a medium eggplant and a can of beans. if that curry recipe makes four servings that means each serving has 1/4 cup dry rice, 1/4 cup zucchini, 2.5 oz spinach, 1/8 cup peppers, 1/4 of the eggplant, and just under half a cup of beans. so that would be one grain serving for the rice, two generous servings of veg [3 if your eggplant was really big] and almost a serving of beans. if your recipe follows the 1/2 veg, 1/4 starch and 1/4 protein ratio then what you serve out will as well.

HONEY-ROSE Posts: 8,679
8/29/14 3:27 P

Thank you all good suggestions.

All of my stews, chili con carne, shepherds pie and curries are loaded with vegetables but I always add more on the plate. I will try using cups to meaure my portion and add fibre rich vegetables to the plate as well.

NENATO2 SparkPoints: (185,008)
Fitness Minutes: (165,143)
Posts: 7,377
8/29/14 12:51 P

You can also build your recipe here on SP using the Group feature on your food tracker. That is how I have counted several of my foods.

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
8/29/14 11:50 A

If you have any choice at all (if you cook for yourself), make foods that aren't mixed - but 'deconstructed' mixed dishes. Then, after you see that the portions are right for you, you can mix it all up on the plate.

Or, if that doesn't satisfy you, measure the ingredients separately into servings and then cook them all together, noting how many servings are in the pot. When you serve yourself one serving, at least you know what you have.

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 8/29/2014 (12:04)
NENATO2 SparkPoints: (185,008)
Fitness Minutes: (165,143)
Posts: 7,377
8/29/14 10:32 A

I measure my food, by weight or measuring cups/spoons. Once you get in the habit, it isn't even a bother anymore. If I 'fudge' on anything, it will be on veggies. Sometimes I just guesstimate.

KASTRA Posts: 369
8/29/14 10:11 A

Shepherds pie, stew, and most mixed dishes like that are low on the recommended vegetable/fruit volume. Chili con carne is pretty much lacking in a vegetable other than the tomato from the sauce (which is likely missing fiber entirely). I don't eat curry, so I cannot comment on its vegetable quantity.

When I'm having a meal with a mixed dish like those, I treat the mixed dish as my meat and starch, even if there are a few vegetables mixed in there; in other words, it is only half of my meal and I scale back the portion accordingly. Then I add a vegetable or two for the other half of my meal in proportion.

The rare exception to that is stirfry. I tend to make my stirfry very heavy on vegetables, so it's already proportionally balanced (i.e., about 2/3 to 3/4 of the stirfry itself is vegetable, with only 1/4 to 1/3 of it as meat, and I put it over a modest bed of rice to round it out).

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
8/29/14 10:04 A

One thing would be to start using measuring cups or a scale to portion out what goes on your plate. Another idea would be to add more non-starchy vegetables to your recipes for these foods so while you're eating more in terms of volume, you're not really adding calories.

HONEY-ROSE Posts: 8,679
8/29/14 9:53 A

My biggest problem is portion control of foods that are mixed like, Shepherds pie, Stew, Curry and Chili con carne.
Anyone have any tips on how to avoid adding too much to the plate?
I use a 9 inch plate and one that has sections half for vegetables quater for carbs and quarter for meats/protein.
How do I make sure I am getting the correct size portion for the meals I listed above?
Any tips would be great, thank you.

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