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One of the most difficult parts of changing your eating habits is learning about proper portions. Even today, after overhauling my entire diet I can still have difficulty in controlling my portions. Portions are an essential aspect to living a healthy lifestyle: eating too little and you’re not getting the nutrients your body needs to survive, eating too much and your body responds with increased fat which can cause all sorts of problems. The trick is to eat like Goldilocks, juuuuuust right.

Learning to control your portions can seem tedious at first, just like tracking your food, but over time it just becomes second nature. The first step is to understand what a portion is and that it actually differs from a serving size. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat. It can be large or small, the choice is yours. A serving size, on the other hand, is the measure of a food or drink (such as tablespoons or cups). It’s whatever the company creating the product tells you a serving is. The problem here is that many companies will tell you something is 1 serving (such as a single bagel) but it’s actually TWO portions, there’s no mandated standard that tells companies how to label their servings! Annoying, isn’t it?
You’re best bet is to stick to portion sizes. The following image not only helps you to know what a typical portion size is for the average adult but also gives you a handy reference for when you’re out and about and have to estimate your sizes (like when you’re at a restaurant.)
Now, of course, just having this knowledge doesn’t always help. We’ve been conditioned to eat a LOT of food so even if you follow the guidelines to a T I know it’s easier said than done. So here are some tricks that I personally use to control my portions and trick my body into thinking it’s eating more than it actually is:

6 Easy Ways To Control Your Portions

  1. Use dessert plates – You may have heard this before but it really does work! When you eat off of a large dinner plate you’re more apt to fill it which increases your portions and if you don’t fill it you find that looking at a giant plate with a seemingly small amount of food doesn’t give you a lot of motivation to continue. Using a dessert plates forces you to scale back on your portions and also makes it tricks your brain into thinking you’re eating a lot of food! I rarely use my dinner plates anymore unless it’s for a gigantic salad! At my old favourite Indian buffet the owner knew me for being the woman who ate off of dessert plates!
  2. Keep a measuring scale, cups and spoons on hand – I have a set of measuring cups and spoons on my counter at all times within easy reach so I’m never just guessing at portions. The moment I put a food scale also on the counter life became MUCH easier. I never guess anymore and so I know exactly how much I’m eating at every meal. This also makes tracking a cinch!
  3. Fill half your plate with veggies – I always make sure to fill half my plate with veggies, a quarter with protein and a quarter with carbs. This ensures that the more calorie dense food (protein and carbs) are kept to a minimum.
  4. Drink water first – Did you know that your body cannot distinguish between thirst and hunger? That means when you experience “hunger” pangs you may actually only be thirsty instead so drink water first and then eat. Drinking water will help fill you up a little before you dig into your meal.
  5. Divy up your meals immediately – If you just made a huge casserole for dinner, plate what you and your family are eating and then, instead of just covering up the leftovers and sticking it in the fridge, break them down into smaller containers so you’re not guessing on portions when you go to eat it a day or two later. This also prevents you from going back for seconds!
  6. Eat your veggies first – This is another easy way to control your portions. Instead of going for the calorie dense food first eat your veggies so that you fill up on them first and then you won’t be as inclined to overeat on the rest of your food.
  7. Wait 20 minutes before deciding to have seconds – Never finish your plate and then immediately pile on more. Wait 20 minutes to let your food begin to digest before deciding if you’re still hungry. If you eat too fast your body doesn’t have the time to tell you it’s full so try and eat slowly and then wait for a while before deciding if you want more. Even then I would suggest only having some more veggies and save the carbs and proteins for leftovers the next day.

All of these tips worked for me and I hope they work for you as well!

Do you have any tips on scaling back on your portions? Do you have questions about portions? 

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