The summer is fast approaching and with it the pressure to have the perfect beach body. New Year’s resolutions are being renewed, we’re all trying to hit the gym, and we are recommitting to our diets.
You always hear that diet is 90% of weight loss. But starving yourself and eating soggy salads is no way to live, nor is it sustainable as a healthy lifestyle, So how do you still eat the foods you love and stay healthy?
The answer is with portion control. Portion control is based on the idea that you can have too much of a good thing, but that in the right amounts, even the bad things can be okay. In other words, you can have that chocolate cake, but make sure you get an appropriately-sized piece.
Below, you’ll find ten easy tips for portion control that you can incorporate into your daily diet. Done right, these can revolutionize your diet and your fitness lifestyle!
Table of Contents
Don’t Skip Meals
It may seem counterintuitive, but the first rule of portion control and dieting is don’t skip meals.
When we’re trying to lose weight, it can seem like an easy solution to stick to coffee for breakfast or try to work through lunch. But this will only set you back.
When you skip a meal, you’re actually more likely to overeat at your next meal. Because you feel so much hungrier, sticking to proper portion control can be more difficult. And besides, you want to create an eating habit that you can stick to, and you’re much less likely to do that if you’re starving all the time.
Some studies have actually shown that eating smaller meals more often is a more effective weight loss strategy than skipping meals. If your schedule will allow for it, you may consider this approach to dieting and portion control. Either way, make sure you are eating at least three balanced meals every day.
You may also want to consider a service like Gourmet Daily. They’ll deliver well-proportioned, balanced, delicious meals directly to your doorstep, making it easy to maintain good portion control.
Use a Smaller Plate
It’s no secret that one of the biggest tricks of portion control is psychology. The more you can manipulate your body into feeling full, the more you’ll be able to stick to better portion control. One simple way to do this is to eat off a smaller plate.
The idea behind this trick is fairly simple. When food looks like it takes up more of your plate, your brain perceives it as being more food and will trick your stomach into feeling fuller quicker.
Using a smaller plate also makes you more likely to take smaller portions when you’re serving yourself because there is simply less space.
Now, we aren’t suggesting you start eating all your meals off a tea saucer. But rather than pulling out the big dinner plates in the evening, maybe go for the salad plates instead. Reducing the size of your plates may just reduce your waistline as well.
Write Down What You Eat
It’s a Monday morning and you walk into the office to discover Dana has brought donuts for everyone on the team, so you take one. Around three, you go to the coffee shop and order a scone with your latte because they just look so tasty. When you get home and you’re cooking dinner, you sneak a handful of pretzels out of the bag in the pantry while you’re grabbing an onion.
It’s very, very easy throughout the day to snack here and there, eating without thinking as food is offered to you. But this is also one of the quickest ways to blow your portion control out of whack. One of the most effective methods of combating this is to write down everything that you eat.
Pick out a journal you like and start a food journal, recording everything that goes in your mouth over the course of the day. Or maybe you’d prefer to use an app that can help count calories and nutrients at the same time. However, you choose to do it, make a commitment to writing down everything that you eat.
One of the primary ways to use portion control in dieting is to, well, control the portions of what you eat. What this comes down to is measuring everything that goes on your plate. So bust out those measuring cups and scales for more than just cooking!
It’s easy when serving up a plate of food at dinner to scoop out a portion, estimate how much you think is enough, and keep on moving. But taking the time to measure out one cup of whatever you’re serving can help make sure you aren’t overestimating. This will also be helpful if you’re using a food journal or calorie tracker.
Of course, not all portions are created equal. What qualifies as an appropriate portion varies depending on the type of food. There are several guides you can find online to how much meat, starch, vegetables, and so on you should be eating.
Drink More Water
We’ve all had it hammered into us from an early age that we need to drink eight cups of water a day to stay healthy. Staying properly hydrated can help with skin problems, digestive issues, and much, much more. But it can also help you maintain proper portion control.
Not only does drinking more water help improve your digestion when you’re trying to lose weight, it can also help you eat less. If you drink a cup of water before each meal, you will feel full that much quicker while you’re eating, since you have that water in your stomach. The same holds true for tiding you over between meals.
The fact of the matter is, almost all of us are chronically dehydrated. Try getting an app that will remind you every so often to drink water, or consider getting a water bottle with marked increments showing drinking goals for each hour of the day. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make.
Eat More Protein
The dieting community has gone back and forth over the last couple of decades about whether protein and carbs are good for you or not. But there is one thing we can say for sure. Eating more protein helps with portion control.
There are studies that suggest that protein helps trigger hormones that make you feel fuller quicker. One study even suggested that eating a high-protein diet could help you lose up to 26 pounds a year! But be careful that you don’t go overboard with protein consumption; a balanced diet is still key.
There are some easy ways to add more protein to your diet. If you’re snacking throughout the day, reach for some almonds instead of chips. Have Greek yogurt with fresh fruit for dessert instead of ice cream.
Pay Attention to Serving Size
Remember what we were talking about with measuring all your foods to get the proper portions?
Well, step one of that process is knowing what the proper portions are. And this comes down to serving size.
Nearly every processed food, right down to salt and olive oil, comes with a suggested serving size printed on the packaging. In many cases, each package contains multiple servings. This even applies to individually-packaged items, such as bags of popcorn or small frozen pizzas.
Make sure you check the serving size of whatever you’re eating and stick to that as much as you can. If you’re cooking for yourself, you may want to check your cookbook or run a quick online search to find a suggested serving size for the dish. It’s an easy way to make sure you don’t eat way more than you meant to.
When we’re hungry, it’s tempting to scarf down food as fast as we can (see the earlier paragraph about not skipping meals). But how many meals have you finished and realized you ate way too much?
It takes a few minutes from signals from your stomach to make it to your brain and get processed. This means your stomach can be full, and your brain can still be sending messages to eat more. The solution: eating more slowly.
Slowing down while you eat can give your brain and your stomach time to communicate, making sure you don’t overeat. Mindful eating (which we’ll talk about more in a minute) can also actually help you feel fuller faster. And, as a bonus, eating more slowly actually gives your digestion a little bit of a running start of your consumption.
Limit Mealtime Distractions
You only have to walk into a Chili’s or a sports bar to know that distractions while eating are immensely common in American culture. Nearly every restaurant has a TV in every corner, many come with electronic games on the table now, and even when we’re at home, the smartphones are always at hand. It’s very, very easy to eat while your mind is on something else.
But this approach to mealtime can actually be a huge detriment to portion control. Not only is it much easier to mindlessly overeat when you’re distracted, you can actually feel less full as a result. Instead, turn off the television, put down the smartphone, and give mindful eating a try.
Mindful eating involves paying attention to the sight, smell, sound, taste, and texture of the food you’re eating. Take time to notice and really experience each bite, making note of the sensory input. This can help you enjoy your meal more, get full quicker, and eat less.
Don’t Eat From the Bag
How often have you grabbed a bag of chips or pretzels out of the cabinet, sat down to watch the big game, and looked up later to find you’d eaten way more than you meant to? When you have the bag or box of whatever you’re snacking on right there, it’s very easy to say “Oh, just one more.” This is not good for portion control.
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself from overeating on snacks is to keep the box out of reach. Rather than taking the whole bag to the couch, check the serving size, measure out that amount, and take only that with you. You’ll finish that portion, and at that point will find it much less tempting to go back for more.
Tips for Portion Control and More
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