Portion Control: Calories vs. Content

Calories vs. Content

Vanessa Lennick, Registered Dietitian

You’ve heard the phrase “portion control” referring to the quantity of food you eat.  Maybe it sounded like this: “If only I had better portion control.” 

As a Registered Dietitian, I do recommend portion control to clients, but it means something different than you think. First, I dislike using the word “control” when it comes to nutrition (well actually anything in life) – it’s right up there with the word “perfection” – it has a sort of pass/fail feel and life just isn’t that black & white. Second, I really want you to focus on the quality of your calories or the nutrients the food provides, not the quantity.

Instead we use portion sizes as a starting point, but it is never meant for you to focus on a strict amount of food causing you to ignore your body’s hunger cues.  

If we only think about food in terms of numbers – calories & serving sizes – then we might choose to avoid foods that are relatively high in calories but also have a high nutritional value (like nuts and seeds, oily fish, or good oils) OR we may stop eating before your body is full because a number told you to stop instead of you feeling full.

In short a healthy dietary pattern includes portion sizes, quality, listening to hunger cues – eating to nourish. 


Vanessa Lennick is a Registered Dietitian at Proximal50 Life Center in Bismarck, ND. Vanessa creates custom, real-life, doable nutrition plans for clients around their preferences, goals, and lifestyle. She works with clients on location at Proximal50 or can work with clients virtually too! Contact Vanessa at vanessa.lennick@proximal50.com for info.