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Portion Control Tips When Eating Out

Tips for Managing Your Food While Away from Home

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Updated June 27, 2009

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Portion Control Tips When Eating Out

Portion control is the key to managing your food intake when eating out. For many people, eating out is an excuse to overeat. When you have diabetes, overeating can easily lead to high blood sugar levels and unwanted calories that, over time, add pounds and increase your risk of diabetes-related complications. Learning some simple portion control methods can help you keep your blood sugar in check along with your waistline. Try one or more of these 7 tips the next time you eat out.

1. Think about portion control before you leave home.

We often overeat when dining out because we are overly hungry. Snack on a few veggies before you leave home to take the edge off your hunger. This will help you feel less hungry when you order your food and make better decisions about how much to eat.

2. Eat slowly and savor your food.

Modest portions can be even more satisfying than large portions because you really try to enjoy the food. Eating quickly almost always leads to overeating because you have consumed the food before your stomach registers a feeling of fullness.

3. Practice the plate method.

The plate method divides a small dinner plate into one half non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.) and the other half divided between protein (lean meat or poultry, chicken, fish or meat substitutes) and starchy foods (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, beans, corn, etc.). When you eat what is on your plate, you are finished.

4. Learn your serving sizes.

The recommended serving for raw vegetables is about one cup or the size of your fist. A single serving of meat is about 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. A single serving of cooked pasta is one cup or about the size of a tennis ball.

5. Split your meal in half.

This is especially helpful when going to restaurants that offer big portions. Before you even take the first bite, divide the meal in half. Take it home for another meal or share it with a friend.

6. Avoid restaurants that offer family or buffet-style meals.

Do not tempt yourself with all-you-can-eat offers. Even unlimited trips to the salad bar can be hazardous to your blood sugar control.

7. Keep a food diary of what you eat when dining out.

Writing down what you eat makes you much more aware of how much you are consuming and will act as a reference for keeping you in check for your next meal out.

Calorie count is a helpful online tool for people with type 1 diabetes and others that allows you to quickly count carbohydrates and see the specific nutritional values of thousands of different foods. Simply name the food you want to learn about and Calorie Count gives you instant access to all of the nutrition information of that food in one place.

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