Serving-Size Pitfalls and Salad-Dressing Tips!

Sharebtn Click the share button to confirm. Do it now!

Dear HG,

I'm trying to watch my portions, but it's hard! What are some common serving-size mistakes that people make?

Pressed for Portion Control

Hi Pressed for Portion Control,

Yup, keeping portions in check can be difficult, especially when the serving sizes listed on packages often seem unrealistically small. Here are some of the foods that can trip people up when it comes to portion control, plus some helpful hints and tips...

Ice Cream
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Serving secrets: Take a second to envision half a cup of anything. It's probably WAY smaller than the amount of ice cream you typically scoop into your dessert bowl! Always measure out your ice cream -- NEVER eat it straight from the tub. And dole out a lightly packed and level 1/2-cup scoop, not a heaping and densely packed ball of the frozen stuff. Can't resist going back for seconds? Stick with single-serve finds, like the ones on our 2013 supermarket list!

Serving size: generally 3/4 cup - 1 1/4 cups (varies)
Serving secrets: If you're eating your Cap'n Crunch out of a punch bowl, then you're probably eating SEVERAL servings, whether you realize it or not. Use a mid-sized bowl, and don't pour the cereal straight from the box -- measure it out. Check the nutritional panel, too, so you know exactly how much of that particular cereal is equal to the stats listed. Some people eat granola like it's regular cereal, but that stuff can have a serving size as small as 1/4 cup! And don't forget to add the calories and fat coming from the milk -- it's a good idea to measure that too!

Serving size: 1 oz. (approximate number of chips varies)
Serving secrets: Usually, there's an "about" chip count listed in parentheses... but that's just an estimate. Sometimes those counts are WAY off. When in doubt, weigh it out! Also, if chips are a trigger food for you (meaning it's nearly impossible to stop eating them once you start), look for single-serving bags. Or just portion out a multi-serve bag into individual baggies or containers as soon as you get home from the supermarket.

Serving size: 2 tbsp.
Serving secrets: Who eats just two tablespoons of dip?! That's like 4 chips' worth. When you're shopping for dip or hummus, be prepared to double the stats to get a more realistic idea of what you're likely to consume in one sitting. And measure out those portions before you dig in... Don't just go dipping chips into the container like a crazed chip dipper. (This is good advice!)  

One more tip... When it comes to foods you eat regularly, familiarize yourself with how their serving sizes look. This way, when you're out and about and can't exactly break out a measuring cup or food scale, you'll have a pretty solid idea of what a serving looks like.

There you go. Hope that helps!  

Hi Hungry Girl,

I'm a hungry boy who loves your books and website. They've helped me lose over 30 pounds this year! When discussing salads and dressings, you always say, "Dip, don't pour." But every time I try to do this, half the stuff on my fork just falls into the dressing. What am I doing wrong?

Hungry Boy

Hi Hungry Boy,

First of all, CONGRATS on dropping the weight! That's FANTASTIC! As for your question, here's some clarification, plus additional tips...

Personally, I dip just the edge of whatever is on my fork -- not the entire forkful -- into sauce or dressing. Since a single serving of salad dressing isn't a lot (typically 2 tbsp.), this helps me to get a little dressing on each bite. Plus, it means I'm measuring out the dressing first, as opposed to pouring it straight from the bottle, so I'm able to keep the portion in check. Some people dip their fork into the dressing before spearing their salad greens. That works too! Another way to make that 2-tbsp. serving go far is to toss ONLY the lettuce with it. Then add your protein and other toppers, which really don't need the flavor of the dressing as much as the greens.

Don't have measuring spoons handy? Use the cap of the dressing bottle as a rough estimate of a tablespoon. Sure, it's not super precise, but it's better than accidentally dumping half the bottle of dressing onto your plate! And the next time you measure out a 2-tbsp. serving of dressing, really commit to memory exactly what it looks like. Restaurants often serve dressing in ramekins that hold 2 - 4 oz., which is about 4 - 8 tbsp.! Knowing what that 2-tbsp. serving looks like will help you avoid overdoing it when you're dining out.

For even more dressing 411, click here for my favorite guilt-free picks!

Share this scoop with your pals, and help them avoid common serving-size and salad-dressing pitfalls! Click "Send to a Friend" ASAP!


Today, July 10th, is National Piña Colada Day. Colada enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy this Groovy Piña Colada Smoothie. Those of the legal drinking age can get down with this Piña Colada Freeze!

Have a question for Hungry Girl? Send it in! She answers new Qs each week (but cannot respond to emails personally).

Click here for a printable, text-only version of this page.

We may have received free samples of food, which in no way influences whether these products are reviewed favorably, unfavorably, mentioned with indifference, or mentioned at all. Click for more about our editorial and advertising policies.

*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints
® trademark.

SmartPoints® value not what you expected? Click here for more info on how the values are calculated, plus more FAQs about PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values on our website.

Hungry Girl Inc., 18034 Ventura Blvd. #503, Encino, CA 91316