No matter how you spin it, there are only two proven ways to lose weight naturally: diet and exercise. When it comes to diet, you can move the number on the scale by tackling it from two angles: eating healthier and eating less. Today we’re talking portion control.
Portion control doesn’t mean restricting yourself to depressingly tiny bites of food. It does mean eating only as much as you need to feel full and stopping before you overdo it. It’s also important to understand what a proper serving size actually looks like. Americans are notorious for their “supersize me” portions!
A number of scientific studies have found that when people are provided with more food, they eat it. On the converse, when they’re given pre-portioned meals over an extended period of time, they lose more weight than those who eat freely. Use these 5 portion control tips to lose weight the natural way, giving your body the nutrients it needs in healthy amounts.
1. Learn what a “real” portion looks like.
Portion control begins with shifting your outlook on what a “normal” serving size looks like. Since ‘one cup’ or ‘three ounces’ is tricky to visualize, we like to compare serving sizes to everyday objects.
One serving of meat or poultry = one deck of cards
One serving of fish = a checkbook
One serving of pasta or cereal = a tennis ball
One serving of fruit = a fist
One serving of veggies = an ice cream scoop
One serving of cheese = a 9-volt battery
You can see how easy it is to eat far more than a portion, especially at a restaurant. A 12-ounce steak is actually three to four servings of red meat! For a week’s work of healthy meal ideas, try our 7-day portion control menu.
2. Use a small plate.
Smaller plates naturally lead to smaller portions. Save the dinner plates for an actual dinner party and eat off salad plates when you’re dining on an everyday basis.
3. Start smaller instead of larger.
When you’re an adult striving for a healthy weight, the old adage to ‘clean your plate’ can go out the window. Rather than filling your plate completely and finishing it all, start with less food on the plate.
When you’ve finished all the food on your plate, wait ten minutes before going back for seconds. This will give your body time to recognize whether it’s actually still hungry.
4. Fill your plate strategically.
Rather than piling food onto your plate willy-nilly, go in with a game plan. Aim to fill ½ of your plate with vegetables or salad, ¼ of your plate with lean protein, and the remaining ¼ with a healthy carb or whole grain.
5. Slow down.
When you’re scarfing down food, you’re far more likely to pass the point of no return, eating until you feel stuffed. Slow down at mealtime and savor each bite. You can even use your grandma’s old rule of chewing each bite 20 times to get into the swing of eating slower.
6. Eat pre-portioned snacks.
Snacking itself is healthy because it curbs hunger and keeps you from making diet slip-ups. It’s our tendency to overindulge that gets us in trouble in the snack department.
Have plenty of clean-eating, proportioned snacks on hand so you’re not tempted to reach into a never-ending bag of cookies when a craving strikes. Use this handy this of 20 clean-eating snacks to help you stock up.