5 Quick Tips for Controlling Portions on Your Plate

So how much are you supposed to eat anyhow?

Portions do matter. You read a lot of opinions about “what” you are supposed to eat (or not eat) but “how much” and “how often” are an important part of the health equation. The Mayo Clinic has a great visual portions guide that you can check out here. and I have some additional quick tips:

  1. Use smaller plates and bowls. It’s even a “movement”.  We like the look of a “full” portion. If you portion your ice cream into a small half-cup sized ramekin instead of a big bowl, you’ll be more satisfied with less calories. If you use a smaller cereal bowl, you’ll pour the correct 1-cup portion. Choose My Plate offers some general tips to keep in mind. Consider investing in smaller glasses too. A ‘juice glass’ provides a healthy portion of juice. Save the tumblers for water.

    Portions have changed over the past 25 years. This is a normal sized bagel. It fits into my bagel slicer (circa 1992).

  2. Keep a food journal to log hunger scale (1 being not so hungry, 5 being very hungry). Also keep track of your mood or stress level when eating.

    This represents the current average bakery bagel. Is the bagel or the portion?

  3. Slow the heck down! Shoveling food into your mouth = mindless eating. When you don’t pay attention to the texture and flavors of the food you’re eating, you aren’t as satisfied, and it takes your brain 20 minutes to register a full stomach. Put your fork down in between bites, sit back for a moment, have a sip of water. Find support if you need it.
  4. Intentionally choose less food. If you have 2 slices of toast, just have one. If you take a big heap of mashed potatoes, intentionally take a smaller portion. If you pour the whole “on the side” cup of salad dressing on your salad, pour only half, and mix it into the salad.
  5. Get enough sleep. Rest can help control hunger and cravings.




reviewed 8/18



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5 Quick Tips for Controlling Portions on Your Plate — 2 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this blog post and how it fed off of your last post on portion control. This is a topic many health professionals and advocates feel strongly about, and one that I have personally researched and preached to friends and family. So many people over eat simply because they don’t understand proper portion sizes. Just the other day, my mom was complaining about how a restaurant and reduced their portion sizes, but what she didn’t understand was that it wasn’t some ploy to rip people off, but rather a small step toward a healthier society.
    Portions have gradually increased over the last few decades and with this movement, plates, bowls, cups and even silverware have increased in size. It simply amazes me when I look at dishes in any stores these days; the spoons look like something a giant could eat with! Not to mention the bowls could easily hold 3+ servings and resemble more of a mixing bowl than a cereal bowl. Like you stated, I believe that a lot of this problem has to do with the dishes we use to eat out of; the bigger they are, the more food we think we need. I myself have even experienced this phenomena, I’ll use a large cup and end up consuming 2-3 servings without even thinking about it.
    Your tips and techniques are very useful and are a really good way to start portion controlling. I too also found the “choose my plate” website very helpful (USDA, 2013). Some other things I would suggest when controlling portion sizes that have helped me is to:
    • Use a divided plate. This may sound childish but when you use a properly portioned plate, it makes it much easier to eat the correct amount of each food group.
    • Get dressings and sauces on the side and dip. When you do this, you end up using a lot less product than having it proportioned for you.
    • This one may sound a bit weird but it really does work, when you are full, pour your drink or some crazy condiment such as an extreme amount of salt or vinegar, on the remaining food so you’re not tempted to eat more.
    • An alternative to vandalizing your food is to ask for a to go box when you get your food, if you’re eating out, so that as soon as you’re full you can box it up and aren’t tempted to finish your plate, or feel guilty for wasting food.
    • If you’re not eating out, but rather staying in and cooking, after you have prepared the food, immediately wrap up and store the remaining food so you’re not tempted to get seconds, or even thirds.
    Along with these tips, I also suggest halving what you normally eat. I know you stated this tip and I have found that it has worked better for me than anything else, especially because it really makes me think about how much I’m eating.
    United States Department of Agriculture. (2013). Choose my plate.gov. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/better-choices/decrease-portions.html

  2. Pingback: Habits over Food | Chew The Facts

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