One of the most difficult things I’ve encountered in my weight loss evolution is just knowing when to stop eating. Before I knew any better, I’d find myself (either out of boredom or just plain ol’ habit) going for second portions after a large meal, finishing an entire meal at a restaurant, and searching the kitchen for snacks during the late-night hours.
In addition, I truly believe growing up in the food-obsessed United States has really hindered my ability to judge portion sizes in general. When dining out at a restaurant, the portions you are given are usually enough to feed a family of four – and it is a single “serving”! We as a nation have grown accustomed to believing that eating more is always a good idea, and getting a LARGE amount of food for your money is always the end goal.
This couldn’t be more wrong. These are all catastrophic habits than can really negatively affect your weight loss journey. Portion control is an essential factor in any weight loss/nutrition/wellness journey, and can dramatically effect your results both positively and negatively.
Here are just a few very easy tips that I’ve found to be useful for managing your meal portions:
Eat a Good Breakfast
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you load your body with a solid foundation at the start of your day, the remainder of the day will be much simpler. Without mid-morning snack cravings, you can avoid excess caloric intake for your day. In addition, fueling your body properly in the AM can dramatically effect the level of energy you have for the rest of your day – making your work day more effective, and quicker results in your workout efforts. My favorite way to start the morning is with a Shakeology meal replacement shake, loaded with a variety of fruits and/or vegetables. This nutritionally fueled meal replacement gives me all the energy I need to make it through lunch hours (even if it’s a late lunch, which I tend to take), without snacking or the use of coffee and stimulants.
Watch Your Plate Size
Our eyes are truly the window to our stomachs. What we see in front of our face often greatly impacts what we decide to eat, and how much we decide to consume. In the image above, there is the same amount of space provided for a meal. However, the plate on the left is much larger, tricking your eyes into believing you are eating a smaller portion. The image on the right, where the food fills up the majority of the space of the smaller plate, will allow your brain to believe it is consuming a larger amount of food, thereby controlling your portions.
Avoid Liquid Calories
Nothing can negatively affect your daily caloric intake as much as beverages. Soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages are always riddled with useless calories. Simply skip the fancy drink and opt for water instead, and save yourself literally hundreds of calories daily.
Be Creative With Your Spoon
This is an odd trick that is actually quite new to me – but I find it really works! Next time you are eating a small portion of something that you want to make last longer (e.g. a small yogurt cup or serving of sorbet), try flipping your spoon upside down. For me, it made the portion last longer and feel like more. The spoon being caved upwards tricked my mind into thinking it was full, thereby taking me longer to eat the serving, and making me feel like I was actually eating more. Interesting trick that I’ve rarely heard about, but really stand by – especially for sweet treats that go by just too fast.
Buy Single Serving Portions & Avoid Buffets
That large back of potato chips may be a great deal for your wallet, but it will be the deal-breaker for your waistline. If you are giving into a temptation, keep it within reason and buy the single serving portion only. The same mentality goes for buffets, just avoid them! You may be saving dollars, but your portion control just went straight out the window with the three plates you just filled up (let’s not forget that dessert plate you grabbed too – I saw that!)
Dress Your Plates Up
These fun plates designed by Precise Portions are my new favorite thing in the entire world. The unique designs help you to determine exact portion sizes, without the use of a measuring cup or scale. I want like, the entire set. Kthx.
What are your favorite tips for managing your food portions? Please share them below!