Manage Portion Control

Author: Bree Maloney, Manager

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to think about when you sit down for a bite to eat, is thinking about portion size and how much you should consume. What I’ve learned is that controlling your eating portions takes dedication, perseverance and will power. You can easily control your portion sizes by listening to your body and making changes before it becomes a bad habit.

The first step in successful portion control is learning the difference between a serving and portion size. A serving size is the amount of food recommended by government agencies, such as the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.  Finding out what serving size a food is can be found by reading the nutritional label. A portion size is the amount of food or drink a person chooses to consume. In most cases, the portion eaten is usually larger than the serving size simply because we don’t know any better. So, how many servings do you need each day of a food group such as fruit, dairy and protein? It depends on your age, gender and weight.

Here are five easy ways that I thought were the most useful when it came to managing my portions:

1. Slow Down!

It’s a known fact that eating slower will fill you up quicker. I’ve read that it can take up to 20 minutes after you’ve eaten for your body to register that you’ve had enough to eat. By eating slower, it gives your body an accurate time of when you’re full. Take smaller bites and chew every mouthful at least five or six times before swallowing; and wait until your mouth is empty before you take another bite. Scheduling your meals will also ensure you have more time to eat slowly instead of rushing through. Try to avoid eating in front of the TV too. This will cause you to overeat because you’re focused more on the entertainment than your body’s ‘I’m full’ signals. Did you know? Eating slower has been known to improve your digestive system too? So, what helped me slow down when I ate? I focused on the food’s flavors and textures. Ask yourself, ‘What do you taste?’ when you take a bite. List off the flavors in your mind. This will make you chew slower and savor what you’re eating.

2. Think Small

Think smaller plates and dishware that is! Studies have shown that eating from a smaller plate or bowl tricks your brain into thinking you have a bigger meal to consume. A bigger plate will allow you to eat more, so focus on the smaller plate to fill you up. The same principle can be applied when consuming beverages. Choose a tall, slender glass instead of a short, wide one. Making this a habit will condition your mind and body to accept smaller servings at a meal.

3. Drink Up – Water that is!

I found that staying hydrated and consuming plenty of water and herbal tea helped keep my appetite satisfied throughout the day. Although it’s easier said than done when it comes to drinking enough water daily, I started adding more water to my everyday routines. For example, when I make my morning coffee, I pour half out and fill the rest of the cup with water. Boom, more water! I also set reminders on my phone on when to drink and bought an oversized reusable bottle that I keep next to me at work.

4. Have Your Dessert

We all have temptations and like most people, a sweet tooth.  When it comes to managing your portion sizes, you don’t want to completely rid yourself of sweets when it comes to what you consume, because this can cause you to binge eat. Everything is good in moderation, but it’s important to treat and reward yourself once in a while. Nowadays there are a lot of food products that come in bite-sizes, so it makes it easier to control your sweet-tooth portions. One there, two here, it’s good, just remember everything in moderation.

5. Be Smart When Dining Out

The last few times I’ve gone out to dinner, I ordered what I wanted to eat and when the server brought the meal, I cut it in half and put the rest in a to-go box. This not only helps with portion control, but it helps you not to overeat. Restaurant portions tend to be bigger and higher in calories than at home (all depends of course how and what you make). Most restaurants though are more calorie-friendly and healthier now and are happy to cater to your dietary needs, so don’t hesitate to request a meal on the menu to be prepared in a more calorie-friendly way, or for sauces and dressings to be served on the side.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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