Portion control and prediabetes

Without food portion control, you can add unwanted fat and calories to your diet.

An illustration of chicken and vegetables on a dinner plate.
Photo: Sus4n/Pixabay.

Is portion control really that important for fighting diabetes? Yes, it is! Paying close attention to portion sizes of food and beverages is an important step in becoming aware of what we eat daily and making healthier choices. Eating and drinking more calories than our bodies can use can lead to being overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes.

Reading food labels is a good way to control portion along with using measuring cups, measuring spoons and food scales to visually see the amount that is being eaten. Measuring food may seem like a waste of time and a bother, but very soon you will gain a real sense of what one cup of cereal or two tablespoons of peanut butter looks like. Over time, you will reduce the need of having to measure every food. Making small changes in the amount of food you consume can result in big changes in fat and calorie intake.

As you track your portion sizes, it is important to understand cooking language that is used for measuring foods. These are some of the most common abbreviations and terms for measurements:






T or tbsp


t or tsp

When measuring solids such as cereal, be sure to level off the top of the measuring cup with a straight utensil. Adding just two extra tablespoons of granola from an unleveled measuring cup can add three grams of fat. Measure liquids in a measuring cup specific for liquids and at eye level on a flat surface.

Measuring the foods you eat offers a way to become realistic with portion sizes. Reading labels to recognize the fat and calorie content in foods can help you recognize foods high in calories. There are three ways that you can eat less fat and fewer calories:

  • Eat foods high in calories and fat less often. Instead of having ice cream every day of the week, have one special day of the week for ice cream.
  • Choose smaller amounts of foods high in calories and fat. Share a meal at a restaurant with a friend or family member.
  • Choose to eat foods low in calories and fat. Try skim milk instead of whole milk or non-fat creamer in your coffee instead of cream. Be cautious that some low-fat foods can contain a higher calorie content and increased sugar.

To get started, think about two or three high-fat foods that you enjoy and write them down. Create a plan to decide how you will decrease the consumption of one of those high-fat foods by eating it less often, eating it in smaller amounts or substituting something lower in fat and calories. Set realistic goals and start small.

For more tips and tricks on healthy living and to explore the health programs available in your community, visit Michigan State University Extension's Food & Health website. 

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