If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I write a lot about exercising and healthy eating. I am not a fitness professional or a nutritionist. I just like to share my personal experience in these areas. I get excited when I discover simple but effective ways to stay fit and eat healthy. I decided to organize all these tips and tidbits into a series of posts called “Healthy living school”. “School” implies learning and teaching. I see myself as your fellow student, learning from various resources, experimenting and documenting results. I would love to hear from you about your experience, so please share your tips in the comments!
Here is Lesson 1 of the series, if you missed it.
I remember a conversation my mom had with a neighbor who had just lost a lot of weight. My mom wanted to know what the trick was, the new diet? The neighbor said, there was no diet. She ate everything she waned BUT in small quantities. I don’t know if my mom believed her or not.
I was around 10 then and had no need to retain such information. For some reason it stuck with me. Not in a way that would make me want to follow that tip. Whenever I wanted to lose weight my go-to method was a “deprivation” diet (any diet is essentially a deprivation diet). I was also convinced that I have a large stomach, and just need a lot of food to fill me up.
Enter the concept of a “tennis ball and a deck of cards”. I happened to stumble upon it around the same time I started changing my opinion about exercising. It all began when I picked up this book on a clearance wrack for a few dollars, despite the book’s title ( at that point I wasn’t a believer in the effectiveness of diets anymore).
Honestly, I didn’t expect much, but the book was revolutionary, for me personally, in that it gave me a total new perspective on how I wanted to eat and feel. One of the many great ideas in that book was the way they approached portion control. It was the first time that I saw it described as a “tennis ball and a deck of cards” approach.
As the name explicitly suggests, the central idea here is that you should aim to size your protein equal to the size of a deck of cards, and your carb (grains, potatoes, etc.) to the size of a tennis ball.
I don’t know about you, but if I were to follow the recommended guideline of 3 ounces of chicken breast and a cup of rice for my dinner, I would have a vague idea of how much exactly it is without weighing/measuring it. You can certainly weigh your food, like Megan did. But I don’t see how I could make it a sustainable life-long habit. I am much better eye-balling my serving size to roughly match a deck of cards and a tennis ball. After awhile, I found out, I didn’t even have to have the visual in my head anymore. I knew what serving size was appropriate for me.
What I discovered after following this portion control method for some time:
* I do not have an abnormally large stomach, and I fill up just fine with a moderate serving size.
* I can maintain my serving size by doing a quick mental check with the “deck of cards/tennis ball” guideline.
* Supplementing the protein and carbs with a large side of a salad or some green vegetable makes for a really satisfying meal.
If I could pick just a few things that were most helpful in keep my weight under control, the “deck of cards and a tennis ball” serving size portioning would definitely make the top if the list.
What are your favorite ways to keep portions in check? I’d love it if you shared in the comments.
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Great tips! This is so true and often overlooked
I am glad you found it helpful, Keri!
Portion control is always so challenging! 🙂 Great practical tips!
It IS one of the biggest challenges, Allison. I like to have these visual reminders. They really help.
Amy @ Ms. Toody Goo Shoes says
It’s a great tip. I learned long ago to use the palm of your hand as a guide. My sister was complaining that she was dieting, but not losing weight, and I know one reason is that her portions are way too large.
That’s a good guide, Amy. I think without portion control you really can’t expect any changes in your wait.