How to Effectively and Painlessly Cut Down Your Portion Sizes
If you’re trying to lose weight, chances are you’re already aware of the problem with portions. Too often, people will eliminate one unhealthy substance from their diet, but scuttle their chance at progress by binging on another food. Changing what we eat is one thing, but reducing the amount we eat is another. For a diet to be effective, it must include portion control. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your portion sizes and improve your health.
1. Preparation Is Everything
Among the many benefits of meal prep is the ability to precisely control the portions you’ll be eating down the road. While you might be tempted to eat a whole pizza after a rough day at work, if you’ve already prepped a healthy portion of squash and chicken, the decision’s already been made for you. Planning and preparing your meals while you’re in a health-centered mindset is a great way of flicking the devil off your shoulder and staying on track.
2. Eat Foods That Require More Work
One way of reducing the amount you eat is to make eating more difficult, or at the very least more time-consuming. Foods that require a significant amount of effort beyond chewing, like peanuts in their shells, edamame, or certain shellfish, take longer to fill up on, and this gives your body time to signal your brain that you’re full before you overdo it.
3. Split an Entrée When Dining Out
It’s tempting to take the restaurant’s recommendation at face value when going out to eat, but that’s not always the healthiest thing to do—few restaurants plan their portions with nutritional needs in mind. The next time you dine out with friends, instead of getting an entire entrée for yourself, plan on splitting one with your partner or another friend. You’ll still get to enjoy the meal and the ambiance, but you won’t leave stuffed.
4. Prepare Foods That Make Good Leftovers
A big part of portion control is eliminating excuses for overeating. One great excuse is that the food you’ve prepared will spoil if you don’t eat it in one sitting. To avoid falling into this trap, plan meals that you know make for palatable leftovers. That way you won’t have to overindulge in order not to waste food.
5. Learn to Leave the Table Wanting More
Americans, in particular, tend to think they’re not finished until they’re physically unable to take another bite. You can control your portions better by learning to be okay with ending lunch or dinner with a little room left. After all, that gives you something to look forward to later.
6. Take Smaller Bites
People who enjoy food (and who doesn’t?) often suffer from the delusion that bigger bites taste better, but that’s just not the case. Forcing yourself to take smaller bites, whether by pre-slicing your protein into tiny chunks or using a smaller spoon for your dessert, can dramatically reduce the portion you eat, and also help you savor each dish more thoroughly.
7. Drink as Much Water as Possible
This is always good advice, but particularly before and during a meal, you should be constantly sipping H2O. For one thing, dehydration is linked with feelings of extreme hunger, and for another, filling up with water will reduce the amount of food you have to eat to feel full.
8. Don’t Eat in A Hurry
Shoveling food down your mouth as you rush to get out of the door isn’t enjoyable, nor is it healthy. In these situations, your portions tend to end up larger than they would be were you sitting down to dine. Plan ahead to make sure you’re not rushing through your meals.