This week’s topic is portion control, and is actually incorporated into our week 3 mini-challenges!

Portion control is one of the most effective ways to lose weight, as it can greatly help you reduce your calories. Over the years, the portion sizes served in restaurants and of packaged foods have grown tremendously. Burgers are now sold with two and three patties, bottles of pop are triple the size of the original glass ones, and restaurant entrees often tip the scales at 1000+ calories, with enough food for two meals. We tend to eat meat in it’s “whole” state, such as a large chicken break or an entire rib steak, but we don’t realize that we only need half of those, or even less! Plate sizes have also increased significantly, encouraging us to load them up with more food than ever before. So when we’re being set up for failure, how do we win? With the strategies below, that’s how!

Before you eat:

  • Stay hydrated. We often think we are hungry when we are dehydrated and need water. Be sure to sip water throughout the entire day to prevent dehydration and unnecessary cravings.
  • Package up excess food right away so that you aren’t as tempted to reach for seconds sitting on the stove. Bonus: your lunch is prepped for the next day!
  • Pay attention to your hunger cues. Similar to the dehydration point, we often eat because we’re bored, or because we know a food tastes good and we’re craving it. The entire purpose of food is to nourish us and provide us with energy, so we need to work on recognizing what true hunger feels like, versus cravings or emotional eating.
  • Portion out your food rather than taking the entire package. This is important whether you’re eating something healthy, like grapes, or something indulgent, such as chips. If you’re eating right out of the package, you’re going to eat more, so place one serving in a bowl and put the package away!
  • When making your plate, take 3/4 or even 1/2 of what you normally would. Portion sizes are often habitual, so we put the same amount of food on our plates as we always do. Unfortunately, that means if we overeat, we probably do it consistently, and that’s a recipe for weight gain.
  • Choose more vegetables and fruits! Okay, this one is actually telling you to eat MORE food – but fruits and veggies are lower in calories and add both bulk and nutrition to your food. Your body will feel both full and nourished, helping you eat less of the bad stuff. Your plate should be half filled with veggies!

At the table:

  • Use a salad plate or smaller bowls and glasses for meals. Visually, it will look like you have plenty of food, but it will be just the right amount! This can help you cut back on hundreds of excess calories per day.
  • Wait 20 minutes before you go back for seconds. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to fully recognize that you’re satisfied with how much you’ve eaten.
  • Eat slowly; you’ll enjoy the food more and will almost always eat less.
  • Don’t eat everything that is served to you just because you feel you should. At a restaurant, ask for a takeout container right away. In someone’s home, let them know the food is delicious but you are watching your portions, or just tell them you had a late lunch.
  • Be conscious! If you’re not paying attention to what you eat because you’re busy or distracted, it’s easy for your portions to slip out of control. Each time you eat, you should be conscious of the entire experience. Eat sitting down at a table whenever possible, rather than on the go or in front of the TV. Oh, and put the phone away!

Don’t feel as though you have to punish and restrict yourself when it comes to portion control. We want you to eat plenty of food, you just need to keep it within reason. Smaller portions can take some getting used to, so ease into it and you’ll adapt gradually. Soon, you won’t believe how much you used to eat, and you’ll have great results!

*Note that this article is intended for those who struggle with portion control and tend to overeat. Under eating is also quite common, which can lead to weight gain or a struggle to lose weight as well. If you’d like more information on this, please let us know.