Portion control is an important aspect of healthy eating, and eating smaller portions is a key step for managing a healthy weight and lifestyle. Portion control at restaurants… well… there is none! You receive giant plates piled high with food- more food than anyone needs to eat at one serving. Portion control has gone out the window everywhere– even the portions of food like bagels and chicken breasts at the grocery store have increased significantly in the past few decades!
WHY IS PORTION SIZE AND CONTROL IMPORTANT?
When we overeat, whether healthy foods or not, your body can only utilize so much at one time for muscle repair and energy. Any excess calories will be stored as fat.
Eating small meals often gives your body the right amount of nutrients that your body can immediately utilize.
Eating every 2-3 hours also helps you to not overeat, as you train your body and mind that you’ll be eating again soon, so there’s no need to stuff yourself to the brim, so to speak. Portion control helps you eat enough to feel satisfied without going overboard.
STUDIES ON PORTION CONTROL
| Three very important questions were asked during studies on portion control:
- Do people intuitively assess how much is an appropriate serving size?
- Do people actually only eat the appropriate serving when more is offered?
- Do people adjust what the eat at subsequent meals after consuming larger portion sizes?
| Research based on these three important questions regarding portion control shows:
• People often eat the entire amount of food in front of them.
• People have difficulty assessing weather or not the amount of food they are eating is an appropriate amount.
| Factors and cues that influence portion control:
• Restaurant Setting
• Atmosphere and people around you
• Choosing foods with high energy density
• Alcohol consumption (blood sugar drops, appetite increases, inhibitions decrease)
TIPS TO HELP PORTION CONTROL
• Eat using smaller plates and bowls.
• Use smaller wine glasses.
• Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day (also helps with blood sugar).
• Practice measuring your portions at home so you can “eyeball” it at restaurants.
• Remember to eat slowly and mindfully.
• Do not eat mindlessly in front of the TV or computer.
• Always sit down for meals at a table with few distractions.
• Make your atmosphere pleasant and relaxing, not stressful.
• Make a one plate rule (no second servings) to avoid overeating.
TIPS FOR RESTAURANT PORTION CONTROL
• Split an entre when dining with another person.
• Ask for a to-go box right away if you notice the portions are too large.
• Eat your protein first, and leave your carbs for last to help you stay more satisfied.
• Eat slowly and mindfully: put your fork down between bites, remember to breathe, and take time to enjoy the flavors of your food.
• Check in with yourself and try your hardest not to overeat.
YOUR HOME SHOULD BE YOUR SAFE PLACE
• Replace and candy dish with a fruit bowl.
• Put tempting food out of sight and in harder to reach spaces (top shelf in the cabinet, etc.).
• Have healthy snacks easily accessible.
• Store excess food from bulk purchases in places away from daily use.
• Put larger bags of chips, nuts, or snack foods in smaller portion-controlled bags.
• avoid having “trigger” foods at home.
PORTION CONTROL SELF REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Why is portion control important for you?
- What are your top three factors or cues that influence portion control?
- What can you do at home to help with portion control?