10 Tips for Controlling Portion Size
- Use visual cues to judge how big one serving size is (see above).
- When dining out, wrap up half of your meal before you begin eating. Restaurant portions are often big enough to feed 2 people. As Americans, we have this complex where we feel obligated to clean our plates (How many times did you hear, “There are starving children in Africa!” growing up?) Avoid this by wrapping half your meal up immediately and saving it for tomorrow’s dinner, or sharing an entree with a friend.
- When eating at home, put food on plates instead of eating family style with the serving dishes on the table. Family style eating encourages second helpings.
- When spacing out in front of the tube, put one serving of your snack in a bowl and put the rest away. That means if that economy sized bag of Doritos says one serving is 12 chips, measure exactly 12 chips into a bowl and don’t dip back into the bag.
- Use smaller plates and bowls. Studies show that people will put food on their plate until it looks full. If you load up a 12 inch plate, you’re guaranteed to overeat. Fill up an 8 inch plate instead, and it still looks like a lot of food but is a more reasonable serving.
- Re-portion bulk items (chips, cookies, etc) into individual sandwich bags. Place one serving in each bag. This way, when you reach for a snack, you’ll think twice about grabbing 2, 3, or 4 bags.
- Order a kid’s meal at a restaurant. Kids’ sized meals are way more representative of a normal serving size. Don’t be embarrassed – they don’t have to know it’s for you! Even if there is an “age limit,” you can get around it by ordering it to go. Added bonus: you’ll save a few bucks!
- Hide junk food in hard to reach places and keep fruit and healthier snacks at eye level. If a banana is the first thing you see, you’ll be more likely to pick that over the cheesy poofs you have to hunt for.
- Limit your liquid calories. Many sugary sodas and juices have high calorie counts. Some simple solutions? Eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice or (this is an easy one) drink water with your meals instead of soda, tea, or juice! Added bonus: more calories available for food 🙂
- Treat yourself! People fail at portion control when they never let themselves have a cheat day. They cut out all of their favorite treats completely instead of just watching their intake, then get frustrated and cave in. It’s okay to have a sugary treat every now and then, as long as it’s in moderation. That means 1/2 cup of ice cream instead of your usual 3. One cookie instead of 5. A small sliver of pie instead of a giant wedge. Trust me – it will taste just as good and your waistline will appreciate it.
At first, watching your serving sizes can be difficult because you’ll feel like you’re not eating enough. If you get the munchies between meals, have a healthy snack! Ditch the Funyuns and have a banana with a smidge of peanut butter. It will curb your appetite and it’s a whole lot healthier. Eating several small meals throughout the day is actually better than going 6 hours between lunch and dinner. Think about it — if you’re starving, you’ll be more likely to overeat at dinner.
By exercising moderation and portion control, it’s possible to lose weight while still eating the foods you like. Portion control is the foundation to weight loss. It’s easy enough to do, you just have to train your brain what the new definition of “enough food” is.
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