Swap Out "Portion Distortion" for Flexitarian Eating

flexitarian portion Jun 10, 2024

Portion Distortion: Ending Food Battles 

 (click the image below to download your printable pdf version)


In today's world, oversized portions have become the norm, contributing to the phenomenon of what I call "Portion Distortion." This can make it challenging to maintain a healthy diet and stay within calorie goals. However, adopting a flexitarian approach—primarily plant-based but including meat and other animal products in moderation—can help balance your diet while allowing you to enjoy a variety of foods. This approach, combined with mindfulness about portion sizes, can help you love food again without compromising your health goals.


 Understanding Portion Sizes Using Your Hands

A simple and effective way to gauge portion sizes is by using your hands. Here are some general guidelines:


- Protein: A portion of lean meat, fish, or poultry should be about the size of your palm (excluding fingers), roughly 3-4 ounces.

- Carbohydrates: A serving of pasta or rice should fit into one cupped hand, approximately 1/2 to 1 cup cooked.

- Vegetables: Aim for two cupped hands of vegetables per meal, which equates to about 1-2 cups.

- Fats: Healthy fats like nuts or cheese should be about the size of your thumb, around 1-2 tablespoons.

- Fruits: A serving of fruit, such as a piece of fruit or a cup of berries, should fit into one cupped hand.


Using Your Plate for Better Portion Awareness

 Dividing your plate can also help ensure balanced meals:


- Half the Plate: Fill with non-starchy vegetables (e.g., leafy greens, broccoli, carrots).

- Quarter of the Plate: Include lean protein sources (e.g., chicken, fish, tofu).

- Quarter of the Plate: Add whole grains or starchy vegetables (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes).

- Small Section: Allocate for healthy fats (e.g., avocado, olive oil).


*Using a smaller plate can also naturally limit portion sizes, reducing the risk of overeating.



Calories in Various Food Swap Ideas to Lower Portions and Enjoy

To avoid feeling deprived while managing portions and calories, consider these food swaps:


Certainly! Here's a chart that highlights the calorie swap ideas to lower portions while still enjoying your favorite foods:


Regular Option





Large slice of regular pizza


Smaller slice of thin-crust veggie pizza



Traditional lasagna


Zucchini lasagna with lean ground turkey


Rice Bowls

Traditional rice bowl with white rice


Smaller portion of brown rice with vegetables and lean protein


Steak Dinner

Large steak (8 oz)


Smaller steak (4 oz) with double the vegetables



Fried chicken (1 piece)


Baked or grilled chicken (1 piece)



Large slice of cake


Smaller piece of cake or fruit salad with a dollop of Greek yogurt



Sugary drinks or large lattes


 Black coffee, herbal tea, or sparkling water with a splash of juice


Supersize Meal     

Supersized fast-food meal


Regular-sized burger with side salad and water


This chart provides a clear comparison between regular high-calorie options and their healthier, lower-calorie alternatives. These swaps help manage portions and calories while still allowing you to enjoy delicious meals.


Flexitarian Approach: An All-Inclusive Way to Love Food Again

The flexitarian diet emphasizes flexibility and variety, focusing on plant-based foods while allowing for moderate consumption of animal products. This approach can help you enjoy diverse foods without feeling restricted.


 Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet


- Balanced Nutrition: Ensures you get a mix of macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats) from various sources.

- Sustainable Weight Management: Helps with portion control and reduces the risk of overconsumption.

- Improved Health: Linked to lower risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

- Environmental Impact: Reduces carbon footprint compared to a diet high in animal products.



Mindful eating and portion control are key to maintaining a healthy diet without feeling deprived. By using simple tools like your hands and plate, and adopting a flexitarian approach, you can enjoy a variety of foods while staying on track with your health goals. Making small, sustainable changes, such as opting for lower-calorie food swaps and embracing balanced meals, can lead to long-term success and a more enjoyable relationship with food.

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