Weight Loss

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10 Tips for Portion Control and Real Weight Loss

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


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. 

Don't fall into portion distortion with these portion control tips!

How to Portion Control for Weight Loss

1. Drink Water

Before even thinking about the meal, drink a big glass of water. Not only can water improve digestion, but its intake can help fill the stomach and reduce the risk of overeating. 

The intake of fiber and water at meals can further increase feelings of satiety and fullness.

2. Load Up with Veggies

"Fill up your plate!" is not often associated with 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 over consuming calories, split with someone else at the table or 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!

5. Compare Portions to Day-to-Day Objects

Unless filled with culinary experience, knowing what half a cup of pasta looks like without a measuring cup is slightly impractical. For this reason, try to compare serving sizes to common objects and sizes. 

For instance, a half-cup of pasta is about the size of a clenched fist's surface, three ounces of lean chicken is similar to a deck of cards, and two tablespoons of peanut butter is around the size of a golf ball.

6. Work for Your Food

Choose food and snack items that need a little extra work beyond opening a chip bag. Oranges with peels and seeds and nuts with shells are just a few ideas that require additional preparation and slow down the eating process.

7. 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 to reduce the temptation for additional servings.

8. Scope the Buffet

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

Make a mental game plan and try to keep trips limited to one or two.

9. Say "No" to the 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.

10. 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 abiding to the body's cues of hunger and satiety. 

Start to notice whether or not the body is actually hungry or experiencing a craving. Eat foods that nourish the body and avoid any distractions during mealtime. Say no to TV snacking and meals and welcome the dinner table.

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on July 13, 2016. Updated on February 16, 2019.


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