Observing portion control is a very important, yet often overlooked aspect of a healthy diet. Many people who think about losing weight tend to focus on what to eat, and forget about how much to eat. But here’s the thing – calories are calories. Even if you’re choosing the right foods, eating more than the recommended serving portions can result to weight gain. Don’t worry. With these simple strategies, you can eat a little less, without measuring, even thinking!
It all starts on your plate. Here’s a very easy trick when observing proper portion control – divide your plate in half. Automatically fill one side of your plate with fruits or vegetables (fresh produce is much better). Spare the other side with equal parts of protein (beans, lean meat, legumes, etc.) and starch (complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole-wheat bread and wholegrains).
Make use of your hand when measuring food portions. Here’s another way to smartly measure portion sizes: your fruit and vegetable serving should be about the size of your hand opened, whilst fish, meat or beans altogether should not exceed the size of your palm. Then, whole grains should be a size of your fist.
Make use of smaller food containers. When storing leftovers, store foods in small individual containers instead of in a huge one.Also, consider packing leftovers before you sit down for a meal. This way, you won’t be tempted to get an ‘extra’ serving once you started eating.
Limit your food choices. They say the more choices you have, the better. But when it comes to eating right, having a few choices is ideal. Here’s the thing – the more options you have, the more you want to try. In one study, two groups of participants were given jellybeans whilst they watch a movie. The first group got jellybeans of 6 different colours, neatly placed in several compartments, and the second group got jellybeans in assorted colours. Those given a mix ate nearly two times more.
Practise mindful eating. When having a meal, avoid watching TV, surfing the web, or doing anything else. Just focus on your food. Savour the texture, smell, taste and colour of your food. According to studies, mindful eating does not only help you eat less – it also makes eating more satisfying and satiating.
Use smaller plates and bowls. Instead of the regular 12-inch plate, use the 10 or 8-inch one. This is very helpful especially if you’re in the habit of eating until your plate is empty. Also, make use of smaller plates or bowls for appetisers and desserts.
Eat slowly. Here’s the thing – it takes about 30 minutes before your brain realise that you’re already full. So if you eat too fast, you get to consume more food before you begin to feel full. Slowing down also helps you appreciate and enjoy your meal more.
Make an easy access to fruits and vegetables. According to the study by American professor Brian Wansink, people who keep pre-cut vegetables readily available in their fridge eats 230% more vegetables than if their veggies are whole. This doesn’t mean you should buy pre-packed salads (they are less healthy). You can make your own using fresh, whole produce. It’s better if you can prepare your vegetable/fruit mixes a day ahead so the next morning, you can just easily reach out for these healthy foods, especially when you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to prepare your meal.
Choose foods that take longer to consume. For your afternoon snack, consider having sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or peanuts or pistachios in shells, or popcorn kernels that need to be cooked using a stove instead of a microwave, as well as foods that still need to be peeled. Instead of downing a glass of orange juice, consider eating fresh orange instead. This helps you burn more calories and eat less at the same time.
Make your own trail mix. Do you love trail mixes? Why not make your own instead of buying large packs that are usually composed of unhealthy, sugary treats? Purchase nuts, seeds, dark chocolate chips, and some dried fruits then combine them all together. Pack them in small bags. This way, you don’t just get to control your food intake; you also get to make healthier food options.
Avoid ordering ‘whole’.Craving for pizza? Then buy just a slice instead of a whole one. Dining out? Go for ‘solo meals’ than their regular ‘family’ or ‘group’ servings. Iced tea? Skip the ‘bottomless’ promo.
Work out. Shouldn’t it be making you hungrier instead? Well, not really. According to a 2012 study by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, hitting the gym for half an hour or more can reduce one’s appetite.
By practising these easy food portion control strategies on a regular basis, you can reduce your chances of overeating, reach your long term weight goals, and maintain a healthy diet.
If you struggle, take expert advice with our weight loss management programmes. Take online and self-managed techniques to understand your daily calorie intake and expenditure, or come in to the Southampton suite with free weekly weigh ins, advice and support when purchasing Cambridge Weight Plan products. Alternatively, if you're in a rush to fit into that suit, come in for a Quickslim Body Wrap.
Best wishes, Steve