Portion sizes: how to control it and trick your brain into eating less.
Portion size plays a lot of roles in weight loss processes. Portion control helps to monitor the quantity of anything you consume- healthy or not.
Portion size control is a healthy weight loss tip to help you shed a few pounds, stick to it and maintain a healthy ideal weight. Controlling your portion of food doesn’t mean entering starvation mode or depriving yourself of essential nutrients. It is not “dieting”. Portion control shouldn’t feel like that.
Weight loss efforts can simply be ruined by consuming more calories than you burn. By unconsciously filling your plates with more food, you fill up on more calories, carbs, fats than you are actually supposed to.
Knowing the right portion size gives you a chance to build healthy eating habits and also achieve your weight loss goals.
Wondering if portion control is important? Portion control is important and necessary whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain an ideal weight. Every day, your body needs to consume a particular amount of calories to perform vital bodily functions and survival.
We recommend that an average woman consumes 2000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight and 1,500 calories a day to shed off one pound of weight every week.
While an average man needs to consume 2500 calories a day to also maintain a healthy weight and 2000 calories to shed off one pound of weight every week.
Interestingly, portion control becomes important here. When you consume more calories than your body needs, the extra calories are stored as FAT. Believe me, nobody trying to lose weight wants extra body fat.
To avoid gaining extra weight and additional body fat, portion control is necessary to give the body exactly what it needs.
Our minds and brain are influenced by visual cues. The food we see, taste, touch and smell influences our appetite and controls satiety levels. Filling your plate with so much food without considering portion size cannot help you fight weight gain.
When you succumb to visual cues and environmental factors affecting food intake, you eat more and consume more calories. Portion control is really important at home and outside the home.
Portion size and serving size
Portion size and serving size are in a way interrelated. While portion size is the actual amount of food you eat in a sitting, serving size is the standard amount of food recommended for you to eat.
Know that serving size varies for different types of food. The serving size for a food product can be found on the nutritional label at the top of the product. It is usually in simple household measurements such as a tablespoon, cup, piece, jar, appropriable to the food.
Serving size for a particular food product is actually dictated by the Food and Drug Administration to describe the quantity of food consumed by literally eating all of the food product.
Portion size is different from serving size and needs to be understood. The serving size on the nutritional label is fixed while portion size can be smaller or larger. It could be half of the food product or all of it.
Serving size is a guideline to control calorie intake, carb, sodium intake etc. It has a list of nutritional facts and calories consumed. When you consume more than you are supposed to, for instance, a double of the products serving size, it is possible that you may go beyond your intended daily limit.
Controlling serving size is called portion control. This can be done by a chef, in a restaurant or an external agent. Self-selected portion size- controlling your own portion of meal is necessary for a successful weight loss program.
Well, while most people are obsessed with counting and calculating calories, there is no ideal quantity of food to consume when you are on a weight loss goal.
The correct portion size of food should be the one loaded with the right nutrients whether in large quantity or not- fiber, proteins, veggies, fruits, etc. These foods should enhance feelings of fullness for a long time and fuel your body with energy.
People trying to lose weight by tracking their calories are told to use a weight loss calculator. Although this method can deprive you of important nutrients, it is safer to consult a nutritionist for proper guidance.
Nevertheless, we have enlisted accurate tips to better help you control portion food size wherever you find yourself and feel the urge to eat.
Tips to control food portion for effective weight management
- Start Your Meal With Water
Drinking a glass of water 25 – 45 minutes before a meal has been known to increase fullness and decrease hunger. Most times when you feel hungry, it’s just you being thirsty.
Have you noticed that when you drink water, your stomach becomes filled up and you feel less hungry? Drinking at least 500ml of water before your meal helps you eat less and control the portion of your food.
In one study, overweight people who drank 500ml of water 30 minutes before a meal consumed 13% fewer calories.
- Reach out for Smaller Plates and Dinnerware
To control food portions, we recommend you use smaller kitchen utensils. The quantity of food that fills up a smaller plate is not the same as a bigger plate.
Evidence suggests that the sizes of plates and spoons can unconsciously affect food intake.
In a study, participants who used a large bowl to eat pasta ate 77% more than those who used a medium-sized bowl.
Humans have been programmed from birth to finish the quantity of food served to them and return the plate clean. This is related to the “portion size effect”. Adults and children will still eat the food served to them irrespective of the quantity.
Using a smaller plate and spoon than the usual size to consume a meal helps reduce calorie intake, control portion size and prevent overindulging.
- Eat Slowly
one study in healthy women observed that eating food slowly promoted feelings of fullness and led to a decrease in food intake and calorie consumption compared to eating slowly.
Taking your time to enjoy the meal and focus on it without rushing can control your portion size. This means you wouldn’t have to ask for more.
Eating without slowing down can cause overindulging because at this point, your brain can no longer decipher when you have had enough food in order to release leptin, the fullness hormone.
In another study conducted on 17 healthy people with normal weight, were told to eat 300grams of ice-cream on two different occasions. On the first, they ate the ice-cream within 5 minutes but took 30 minutes during the second.
According to the reports, they became full after they ate the ice-cream slowly, for 30 minutes rather than 5 minutes. Eating your food slower helps you eat less.
Tips to Eat Slower
- Drop your fork on the table after one bite and chew slowly
- Turn off the TV and put away your phone
- Aim to choose for 30 seconds
- Eat when you are not totally hungry. Waiting till you are really hungry wouldn’t help you eat slowly. Always keep a healthy snack close by to prevent extreme hunger.
- Sip on water as you eat
- Set a timer for at least 15 minutes and try to finish your food on or after your stipulated time
- Practice mindful eating
Eating slowly has other benefits. Aside from controlling portion size, it improves digestion and insulin resistance.
- Eat Protein Foods
Whether you are controlling portion size or not, it is important to focus on Protein. You should focus on eating protein when you are hungry other than carbohydrates.
This is because you feel full and less hungry after consuming high-quality protein food. Also, you can eat a high protein snack such as protein bars or black bean brownies before your main meal as an appetizer.
Appetizers help to decrease how much meal you consume next- especially when this appetizer is loaded with protein.
- Create a schedule
It is really helpful to create schedules for when you have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. This way, you get to eat less, control binge eating and eat slowly. Scheduling your meals and snacks helps to keep your blood sugar balanced and improve digestion.
Aim to eat every 3 to 4 hours so your stomach can properly digest the food. Ensure your meal is perfectly balanced and snacks, healthy.
These foods should be able to fuel your body with energy, rich in fiber and healthy fats, decrease cravings and promote satiety.
- Fill up on Veggies
Eat plenty of vegetables before and after a meal. It is more preferable to fill up on veggies just before eating the main meal.
Examples of veggies includes spinach, broccoli and mushrooms.
Veggies are filling, loaded with nutrients, have a low-calorie count and can allow you to portion out carbs and protein.
- Stop Eating Directly From the Container
Sizes of plates or containers used to package and serve food affects portion control. For instance, the quantity of drink consumed from a tall thin glass is different and less from a short wide glass. Eating from large containers encourages overindulging and less consideration of portion size control.
A study found that people ate 129% more candies when they were served from a large container rather than a small one.
It is best to empty the snack or meal into a small bowl than eating more than you are supposed to from the jumbo-sized package.
- Make Use of Recommended Serving Size
Always read nutritional labels to be aware of the recommended serving size. This will help you eat food in moderation.
If the recommended serving size for a food product is 3 cups, take a quarter or half of it to control portion size.
This means you have to measure your meals, at least for a short period till you get used to it. By also measuring your meals, you get to understand how portion control affects your hunger, weight loss, energy and cravings.
- Be Guided Even at Restaurants
Foods served in restaurants are in no doubt larger than standard serving sizes. It is a possibility that foods served to children and adults in restaurants will always be finished. If you are eating out, always ask for a lesser portion of your meal. Doing this will prevent overeating and excessive calorie intake.
- Always Read Nutritional Facts
Every product has a label with Nutritional Facts. When grocery shopping, reading nutritional facts is a great way to avoid excessively high-calorie foods and ingredients that may be bad for you.
While in a restaurant, you can ask for the nutritional fact or calorie count of whatever is being served to you or better still, google it.
This will help you control portion size, watch your nutrient and calorie intake.