There are easy ways to eat smaller portions and not feel deprived or unsatisfied. We tend to think that if we just eat three meals a day, and avoid snacking in between those meals, then our health and fitness will be in tip-top condition. However, this isn’t the case. While it’s important to avoid snacking on sugary snacks during the day, the quality and quantity of the food that you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also important.
The Benefits of Portion Control
Lets take a look at some of the many benefits of eating smaller portion sizes and 25 ways we can reduce our food intake and still feel satisfied.
If you’re not making as much progress from your efforts at the gym as you’d like, then it’s worthwhile looking at how much you’re eating during meal times. Many of us have an incorrect view of how much food should be on our plates. Even the national guidelines for daily calorie intake might be wrong.
Of course, if you’re going to spend time in the kitchen preparing a meal, then you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck — which means making more food than you need. Instead of eating it there and then, however, it’ll be better to save the food for tomorrow’s lunch. If you did nothing else but reduce your portions by even 10%-20%, you would lose weight.
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Have you ever noticed how, after you’ve had a big meal, you don’t want to do anything for the rest of the day? It’s no coincidence. The more that you eat, the greater your body will have to work to process all the food that’s sitting in your stomach — and that can make you feel tired. That’s why so many people fall asleep after they’ve had their big Christmas dinner. Look at cutting down your portion sizes, and you’ll find that you can retain that spring in your step, even after eating.
Keeping Other Health Issues at Bay
Eating large quantities of food can cause physical problems, too, both acutely and on a longer-term basis. Indeed, eating a large meal is one of the most common reasons for heartburn. This won’t just derail your day; it’ll also make you regret the meal that you’ve eaten, even if it was delicious.
Eating too much food and not using portion control can also cause premature aging since it puts such a strain on the body. Indeed, did you know that the people who live in the world’s “Blue Zones” (where people live the longest) typically eat around a third less than people in Western countries?
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You’ll Save Money
We could all do with a bit more money in your back pockets, couldn’t we? If you’re eating too much food, then you’ll find that you’re spending more money on your shopping bill than you’d like. If that big dinner you have each night contains enough food for two meals, then you’ll find that you can half the amount that you spend on your dinners each evening.
Taking Back Control
Finally, reducing your food intake is also about taking back control. Many of us have a complicated relationship with food, and this will put you back in the driving seat, since you’ll be eating just what you need.
Simple Tips for Eating Smaller Portions
Once its on your plate, most people will want to eat everything that’s in front of them. What is important is to trick your brain into thinking that you are eating more food than you actually are. By doing this, you can retrain your brain to be able to recognize healthy portion sizes as being satisfactory and filling.
Here are some simple ideas to make small adjustments to the way food is prepared, served, and eaten and increase the real and perceived satisfaction of our (smaller) meals.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables or fruit.
- Choose vegetables as your meal accompaniment over fries or pasta.
- Chose higher fiber foods which are more filling.
- Focus on the “quality’ of food vs the “quantity”.
- Use a smaller plate – eat off a salad/desert plate vs a big dinner plate.
- Use shorter and wider bowls to make make the amount appear larger.
- Drink from a tall, thin glass with extra ice if having a cocktail.
- Try a sectioned plate to get the portions right.
- If you are eating out, share your meal.
- Drink a glass of water before you eat to fill you up.
- Eat more mindfully, eat slow and enjoy the food you are eating.
- Cut your food into smaller portions – that slice of pizza can now be two slices!
- Pound out your chicken breasts to make them appear larger.
- Try including soups – they tend to have less calories and you can eat larger portions.
- Portion it – a 3 ounce portion of meat or chicken looks like the palm of your hand.
- Measure it – use measuring cups – that huge bowl of cereal is NOT one portion!
- Even if we think it is good for us – “low fat” or “organic” – the calories do add up and we shouldn’t eat unlimited portions.
- Use “filler” ingredients such as lean meat, beans, vegetables or tofu to bulk up the portion.
- After you have served yourself your portion, put the leftovers away. It’ll be less tempting to go back for seconds.
- Shred, whip or chop the ingredients to increase the volume of food on the plate.
- Having a snack? Portion out those pretzels first – don’t eat out of the bag or box.
- Work for your food – snack foods that require shelling or peeling such as pistachios or sunflower seeds in their shells.
- Wear form-fitting clothing. A tighter shirt, pants or belt can give you a constant reminder to eat less.
- Use carbs as a topper instead of the base – for your parfait – use yogurt and then sprinkle just a tiny amount of granola on top instead of the base.
- Want desert? Limit yourself to one piece of chocolate or a healthy decaf tea like peppermint or cinnamon.
In only takes minutes to apply these simple yet effective changes to your meals and ways to eat smaller portions on a daily basis. These strategies will help full and satisfied with healthier amounts of food. The best part is that over time, your brain will actually adjust to what healthy portion sizes actually look like.