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Weight Loss

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11 Ways to Eat Smaller Portions to Lose Weight

Weight loss is not only about eating less food, but consuming more foods that nourish the body. Avoid portion distortion with these expert tips to experience real weight loss results!

11 Ways to Eat Smaller Portions to Lose Weight


Weight loss is not only about eating less food, but rather consuming more foods that nourish the body.

Unfortunately, portion sizes have substantially grown over the years, making it that much easier to overeat on unhealthy foods. The evolution has ultimately misled the view of what portions should actually look like.

The good news is there are tips and tricks to combat these growing amounts of food, in turn controlling calories while optimizing nutrient intake.

Ensure healthy eating with these portion control tips!

11 Portion Control Tips to Lose Weight

From drinking more water to using portion control tools, learn how to eat smaller portions to lose weight.

1. Use Portion Control Tools

Portion control tools are helpful for measuring and ensuring proper portions for dieters alike. These tools come in a wide variety, including spoons, scales, and plates.

Portion control plates often allocate portions of the plate to certain food groups, including lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. They are also often durable storage containers, dishwasher-safe, and BPA-free.

A meal delivery service, such as bistroMD can also be useful for learning how a proper portion size should like. This is because meals are properly portioned and combine the right nutrients to keep the body satisfied.

Pro tip: After heating, plate the prepared food to visually notice how much room it takes up. When it comes time to plating your own food, you then have a feel of what true portions should look like.

2. Drink Water

Keeping the body hydrated is important for weight loss in a number of ways, including sustaining vital metabolic functions. Dehydration can also be mistaken for hunger, which may lead to food intake when the body is actually craving water.

So instead of reaching for food when feeling hungry, drink a big glass of water. It can help the stomach feel full and lower the risk of overeating.

Though everyone is different in how much water their body needs to stay hydrated, aim for about 64 ounces daily.

Tips to drink more water include:

• Use larger water bottles and cups.

• Enhance the flavor with freshly squeezed lemon and other flavorings.

• Make water convenient, including leaving a water bottle in the car.

All-in-all, designate water as the primary hydration source.

3. Load Up with Veggies

"Fill up your plate!" is not often linked to cutting calories and weight loss. However, non-starchy veggies such as salad greens, carrots, and peppers are low in calories but abundant in nutrients.

Filling up the plate with veggies can ultimately lead to filling up the stomach without feelings of guilt.

4. Use Small Plates

From an early age, it was typically rooted to "finish your plate" before excusing yourself from the dinner table.

Though finishing everything on the plate reduces food waste, following that notion can result in overeating if meals are served on larger plates.

To keep portions in check, use smaller plates for mealtimes.

5. Split Restaurant Meals

Although you may be getting more bang for your buck, restaurant plates tend to be quite generous. Some meals may even be double or three times more than a recommended serving.

To avoid trying to finish the plate and overeating calories, split with someone else at the table. You could also ask for a to-go box upfront and halve the meal before you start to eat. Some servers will even split the meal for you!

6. Compare Portions to Day-to-Day Objects

Unless filled with culinary experience, knowing what 3 ounces of chicken looks like is difficult without a food scale. For this reason, try to compare serving sizes to common objects and sizes. As an example, a 3-ounce serving of chicken is about the size of a deck of cards. 

Knowing these eyeball measurements can be particularly useful when food labels and tools are not convenient. Use a food portion guide to learn common portion sizes as well.

7. Skip Out on Freebies

Some restaurants serve bread and chips as soon as you reach your seat. If you personally know you will have zero self-control to turn them down, let the server know to not bring over the freebies.

If other table members want them, place the food items closer to their seats to reduce their enticement.

8. Scope the Buffet First

With numerous options and endless trips, the buffet screams poorer food and health choices. So before loading up your plate at the beginning, see what types of foods are offered throughout the entire buffet.

Make a mental game plan and go for nourishing foods the first go-round, which may be the salad bar. However, be cautious of high-calorie options such as dressings and croutons.

A balanced plate at the buffet may resemble the following:

• Leafy greens and non-starchy veggies filling at least half the plate.

• A light drizzle of olive oil or a few pecans to top onto the salad greens.

• Three to four ounces of grilled chicken, sirloin, or fish.

• A baked potato, whole wheat pasta, or dinner roll that takes up about a quarter of the plate.

9. Work for Your Food

Choose food and snack items that need a little extra work beyond opening a chip bag and sleeve of cookies.

Oranges and shelled nuts are a few ideas requiring little work and can slow down the eating process.

10. Say "No" to the Bag

Most do not realize a serving size is typically a smaller portion, not the entire chip bag. If you plan to go for packaged foods, be sure to stick to the portion size denoted on the nutrition label.

Measure out a proper serving, place in a separate bowl, and put up the bag or box. This lowers the temptation for more servings.

11. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is increasing in popularity for weight loss and portion control. Instead of focusing on the quantity of food, mindfulness promotes listening to the body's natural hunger and satiety cues.

The practice also encompasses an "all-foods-fit" approach, meaning you can enjoy that scoop of ice cream! Tips for mindful eating include the following:

• Eat and chew foods slowly

• Put the fork down between each bite

• Avoid distractions while eating such as the television or phone

• Tune into internal hunger and satiety cues

• Recognize the present external world

• Appreciate the food at hand

Taken together, the practice encourages one to truly savor the experience of food by tuning into internal and external cues.

Sarah Asay's Photo
Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on July 13, 2016. Updated on February 04, 2020.

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