Free Printable for Portion Control ~ No Calorie Counting!

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As a part of the Healthy Family Project, I mentioned what I am doing to regain health and wellness as a busy, homeschooling mom of four.

This month, the challenge is to eat a balanced assortment of foods each day, being mindful of the portions, and to drink 8 fluid ounces of water, 8 times a day.

free printable nutrition diet calorie tracker

How to (not) eat healthy

I stink at portion control. I double stink at eating a balanced diet. And, please, do not ask me to count calories.

A typical days food assortment for me includes coffee, maybe a bowl of cereal, whatever is leftover that the children will not eat, and a large portion of dinner. I will also suck up whatever chocolate is available. Around the time that Bill gets home, I will realize that I have not had anything but two cups of coffee to drink. I will also munch while I prepare dinner and then fill up my plate to the brim with whatever I have fixed for the family.

When the day is over, I cannot tell you what I have eaten. How much? Was it well-balanced? No idea. If I were to count my calories, I would have to estimate something around the 2,000 to 2,200 calorie mark. Ouch.

I will lay my head down and make plans to eat healthy the next day only to forget my aspirations with the dawn.

Why can’t I eat a healthy diet?

If I analyze myself, I know several things that inhibit appropriate food choices.

1) I eat for every reason under the sun. Stress relief. Hormonal shifts. Depression. Celebration. I don’t know if my stomach ever really growls. I’m too busy feeding myself for too many reasons other than nutrition.

2) I eat whatever is leftover to save money. I have trained myself to save the healthier options (fruit and vegetables) for Bill and the children. I skip those food groups and tell myself that my sacrifice is saving us money.

3) I eat whatever is convenient because I fail to plan for breakfast and lunch. My children are perfectly content to eat cereal for breakfast and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch… every day. I like variety and will pick through the freezer or refrigerator, mixing and matching whatever is available that no one else will eat.

How can I lose weight without counting calories?

The only times I have been successful with weight loss I did two things: 1) I ate what I wanted when I wanted it. 2) I watched my portions to keep my calories low.

With a house full of children and a long list of responsibilities, do you have time for counting calories? Me neither. So, I decided to come up with a simple solution for knowing what I should eat each day and tracking the portions to lose weight… hopefully FAST.

Using a set of adhesive magnets, I created a Nutrition Tracking System. Each magnet equals one portion for that food group. Using all of the magnets allows for the dietary needs of a 1,800 calorie diet as recommended by MyPlate, which used to be the food pyramid. As I eat something, I will move the magnet to the “finished” column. I know with a glance at the refrigerator what I have eaten and what I have left. When all the magnets have moved from one side to the other, my eating is over for the day.

I plan to eat 1,800 calories each day for a month or two and then lower the amount to a 1,500 calorie diet by removing the magnets I will no longer need – one grain and one vegetable magnet. My diet will remain in line with the dietary recommendations for MyPlate.

In order to know what a portion is, I made a ready-reference list to keep close to the magnets.

portable nutrition tracker

But, I thought about you too and how some of you are working mothers or on the go all day long. So, I have a printable available to make it portable too.

Just print out the portable file, laminate it, and fold it in half. (I used a closed pair of scissors to make the crease flat.) Add velcro tabs on both sides and move the pieces from the “available” side to the “done” side every time you eat. Easy~peasy.

What do you think? Will this work?

Free printables for you ~


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  1. These look great – you’ve put in so much hard work. Thank you :-)

    • I earnestly prayed for help and God just pressed this in my mind. I am embarrassed to say that He actually placed this on my heart months ago but I procrastinated making them. I hope they are helpful to many busy moms. :)

  2. Wow, reading your post it sounded like I could have written it. I do all of the same things. This printable looks fantastic. I have already printed it out, and will laminate it after I post here. I think this is going to be a big help to me and to many others. Thank you Penny.

  3. Jennifer Tanis says:

    Thank you for creating this! I believe it will be a great tool in helping me eat right. Portions and balance have always been a challenge for me and I know this will help. I’ve already printed it off and can’t wait to start using it!

  4. “I will lay my head down and make plans to eat healthy the next day only to forget my aspirations with the dawn.” –> Seriously. I do the same thing.

    Also, awesome printables!

  5. Wow, I do the “eat the kids’ leftovers AND give the good fruits and vegetables to my husband and kids” thing too! I didn’t even realize I had been doing that until you wrote that! Thank you for opening up my eyes to how I am NOT taking good care of myself.

    I just printed out your awesome chart…I stink at portion control and calorie counting too. ;) Oh and I really appreciate the water chart too…that’s another thing I stink at doing. Thank you!!!

  6. Love this! I pinned it to my lose weight board.


  7. Thanks Penny! I just saw this and love the idea. I hope it helps me to get back on track!

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