While the concept of portion control can be helpful for some, for others it is daunting and confusing.
You’ll be happy to know that it really doesn’t have to be complicated.
When we focus more on the quality of the food we eat, the portion control part usually takes care of itself.
We don’t usually overdo it on the broccoli and kale, right?
Many times, the issue is that our body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, so when we eat a meal (or snack) that doesn’t fulfill our needs on a cellular level, our body stays hungry, a signal that it needs more nutrition.
Unfortunately, we usually grab more “fillers,” the foods higher in carbs and calories.
Portion control doesn’t mean we have to measure and weigh our food, although for some people this could be helpful.
Rather, being conscious and more aware of our environment, how we feel, what we’re doing and what we’re eating can be helpful.
Handling Portion Control
We are constantly bombarded with options for processed, packaged, low-nutrient foods everywhere we go.
They’re quick, easy and convenient.
Unfortunately, they leave us wanting and craving more while leaving our bodies undernourished regardless of how much of it we eat.
Have you ever had the feeling of being full while at the same time you’re still feeling hungry?
It’s usually because your stomach is full, but the food you consumed isn’t providing your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
Portion control is also more of an issue when we skip meals or we aren’t eating enough at each meal.
This causes us to be ravenous later, reaching for anything and everything in sight!
And this is when we are most vulnerable to making poor food choices.
When the “I’m starving” mode kicks in, it’s hard to put the brakes on!
Plus, we easily fall into false thinking that it’s easy to cut calories by skipping a meal.
Our body is smart – it keeps track of what it needs, sends the white flag of hunger up and we then try to make up for it, usually with over indulgence.
In our “Super Size Me” world of fast food, portions have gotten completely out of control.
This isn’t just a problem in fast food restaurants though, it’s happening everywhere!
Even before the super size meals became available, larger and larger beverage choices were available.
In a Big Gulp® size of regular soda, you get a whopping 310 calories in a 32 oz. drink!
A Super Big Gulp® packs over 500 calories, which can be approximately ¼ of your daily calories.
And that doesn’t count the meal or snacks you’re having with your drink.
It’s easy to chug down a huge beverage like this without even being aware of the calories.
Do you notice the portion sizes at most restaurants?
They’re typically at least double what most people would eat at a meal at home.
Even when you go to the movies, they try to get you to ‘buy up’ and purchase the largest size tub of popcorn.
The problem is, the more food we have in front of us, the more we’ll eat.
An article published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that we need to pay attention to both the size and the color of the dinnerware we use as it impacts how much we even serve ourselves.
Even the color of a napkin can affect how we eat.
What’s interesting is that in 1900 a dinner plate was a mere 9 inches.
In 1950, plates were 10 inches and by 2010 had grown to a diameter of 12 inches.
A multitude of studies show that when larger portions are put in front of us, we’ll consume up to 50% more than what we normally would.
All those calories sure add up!
Can you believe that just an extra 200 calories a day over the course of a year adds up to an extra 73,000 calories?
This equals approximately 20 pounds!
Being aware and better prepared is the key.
8 Ways To Get a Better Handle On Portion Control
1. Focus on eating whole foods (avoiding pre-packaged, food-like substances as much as possible), including plenty of protein and vegetables, until you are satiated (that feeling where you are about 80% full).
Don’t deprive yourself.
This always backfires, causing you to eat more food later in the day.
Most processed foods have chemical additives that make it difficult for us to limit consumption.
2. Eat a healthy snack, like veggies, before dinner (especially if you’ll be eating out).
You can tell the waiter not to bring the rolls or chips to your table.
Plan on taking part of your meal home for leftovers since most restaurants give you huge portions.
You can even ask for an extra plate and put ½ the meal on that plate and pack the rest up to take home for leftovers – before you start your meal.
3. Include healthy fats in your diet. This will help you feel satiated longer and allow your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins your body needs.
Ideas include: avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter and ghee (clarified butter).
4. Using smaller plates can be helpful. When you put food on a large plate, you almost automatically want to try to fill it up and then feel like you need to finish it all.
By using smaller plates (and bowls), you may find that you eat less but still feel comfortably full.
5. Don’t skip meals. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make.
Start your day with breakfast (preferably including some protein which will help you feel full longer) and plan ahead for lunch.
It’s also a good idea to bring a healthy snack with you to get you through the afternoon before dinner.
Portion control is very difficult when you’re starving!
6. Don’t eat out of the container. When snacking, place the snack in a small bowl or on a small plate rather than eating right out of the bag or container.
This is a huge help so you’re more aware of how much you are eating and you can better manage your portions.
7. Plan ahead when ordering your meal to account for dessert. Order a smaller size dinner or share your entree.
Often there are healthy appetizers that can actually be a full meal.
Skip the alcohol and then enjoy a little dessert.
Healthy eating is all about moderation.
Don’t feel like you ‘can’t have it’, just decide what you would enjoy more and make the choice.
8. Slow down when you eat and chew your food more.
By slowing down and enjoying our food more, we end up eating less.
Instead of feeling like you have to ration your food, change your focus to eating the most nutrient dense foods you can find.
Nutrient dense foods will have you feeling better, looking better and being more in control of your food choices and portions.
Ask yourself “What is the best choice I can make that will give my body what it needs in order to thrive?”
How To Determine Proper Portions
Proper portions means proper balance of macronutrients and control of caloric intake.
A portion – as opposed to a serving size, which is stated on a Nutrition Facts Panel or in the Food Guide – is the amount of food you actually eat in one sitting.
Most people are used to eating more than an allotted serving size of foods like bread, pasta, rice and meat.
Fats and oils are also often eaten in quantities that exceed a serving just because few people bother to measure.
If you want to lower blood pressure, minding your portion sizes is a simple way to cut calories, fat and carbohydrate intake.
Check out the Food Swap & Portion Guide to have a handy guide to refer to about portion sizes.
Pick one tip from the 8 Ways To Get a Better Handle On Portion Control to start implementing now.