Challenge Yourself: Teach Yourself Portion Control

Red wine

Tiffany has told us about her struggle with cutting down on wine and beer in her quest to lose weight and get healthy. And her nutritionist, Stephanie Karpinske, shared advice on how to keep your alcohol intake in check. To learn another way to do so, plus more ways to teach yourself portion control, check out this story.

How have you taught yourself portion control? Share in the comments below.

Wine and Weight Loss

Red wine

When I first met the Lehman family, Tiffany told me that she–like many women–LOVES red wine. No problem, I told her, adding that she could still drink wine, but would just have to limit it to a few 4-ounce glasses a week. What I didn’t realize is that a 4-ounce glass is not enough for someone who LOVES red wine. Tiffany and Andy both like having 3 (or maybe 4) large glasses of wine at dinner on the weekends. And sometimes Tiffany will have a couple big glasses with girlfriends during the week.

It’s not surprising that Tiffany and Andy drink more than the recommended amount. A lot of us do. Even though research says to limit alcohol to one drink a day for women and two for men, our environment encourages us to drink more than that. Wine glasses are getting bigger and bigger. (And what’s with those 40-ounce cans of beer?!) But for the Lehmans, cutting back had to become a priority–for their health, but also for their weight loss.

Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat! With big serving sizes at home and in restaurants, you can easily rack up 500+ calories of alcohol at a meal. Plus alcohol suppresses your level of control, so you’re more likely to eat that bowl of chips and salsa or order a dessert.

So what’s a wine lover to do?

  • Find out how much you’re really drinking. Use a measuring cup to see how much wine you’re pouring into your glass. Tiffany used Wine-Trax glasses, which have a 4-ounce mark right on the glass.
  • When you’re at a restaurant, stick with just one glass of wine. Restaurants typically use large glasses, which can hold 8-10 ounces.
  • If you know you’re going to have more than a 4-ounce glass of wine, reduce your calories elsewhere to adjust for those extra wine calories. For instance, ordering two glasses of wine means no dessert or no appetizer.

How many glasses of wine will you have in a day? Post a comment and confess.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week 6: The Upside of Alcohol—In Moderation


Wine-Trax wine glass

Andy and I love all things liquid—including red wine and beer. For me, drinking alcohol has been my biggest obstacle in losing weight. It just seems to make its way into my middle and doesn’t want to leave. Beer has had the same effect on Andy as well.

When we were told that we had to cut back on our alcohol intake significantly in order to win the July challenge, we were excited to be pushed in the right direction. But we were also, I guess, a little nervous too. What would happen?

So far, the results have been great. This challenge helped us realize that consuming wine and beer is not so much a bad thing but that it can be enjoyed in moderation. As part of the challenge, Wine-Trax sent us wine glasses with decorative lines at the 4-, 6- and 8-ounce mark. They really help, as I only pour up to the 4-ounce line and I really pay attention to every flavor packed into each sip. I don’t take it for granted. And after I’m done with my 4 ounces, I drink at least 8 ounces of water after it.

We’ve learned to choose between having dessert or having an extra glass of wine because you can’t have both and expect to lose weight. We’ve also found that cutting back makes our minds clearer and our workouts stronger and more successful. In turn, we feel better about ourselves and this challenge has shown that we are stronger mentally than we thought. We are not addicts by a long shot but it’s easy to not really think about how much you’re consuming and 9 times out of 10 it’s probably more than we should have.

Do you fall into the “need to cut back,” “mostly moderation,” or “none for me” category when it comes to alcohol? Post a comment and let me know.