34 Portion Control Tips for Real Life
These portion control strategies can help you when you are attempting to lose weight with simple portion control, or you just want to stop overeating.
When it comes to portion control tips or strategies, many experts have great ideas, but are they realistic? Do their tips and strategies for portion control help when there is a container of ice cream in your freezer, and you can’t stop thinking about having another bowl?
I’ve been having and listening to conversations of people who struggle with overeating and portion control, and have found these tips and strategies that have worked for one more of them! Hopefully, you’ll find one or two things that will work for you.
- Serve your regular meal, but leave one bite from each food on your plate. Cleaning your plate is a habit. Re-write that habit to always leave one bite, and you’ll get more comfortable with ‘not’ clearing your plate with every meal.
- Use portion control plates. Divide your plate into three or four parts with 1/4 for veggies, 1/4 for fruit, 1/4 for protein, and 1/4 for grains. Sticking to these portions will help you visually see what is appropriate for each meal.
- Use smaller plates than you have in the past. Dinner plates can be 10-12 inches each. Measure your current dinner plates, and reduce them by 2 inches. 8 inch plates are perfect.
- Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. Think about the foods and meals you are going to eat each day. Write it down to avoid spontaneous indulging.
- Purchase pre-portioned snack and meals. There are so many options in the grocery store today. 100 calorie packs and even pre-portioned peanut butter. It costs more, but then again, it might actually cost less, because you will be eating less!
- Only eat at the table. Never, ever walk around with food, eat in your car, or eat at the couch. The table will give you the best visual and help you confront the amount you are eating, so you can’t lie to yourself about how much you just consumed.
- Brush and floss your teeth after your meal. Once the meal is over, do not do anything until you brush and floss. This ritual can be the best “meal-ender” I know of. It will stop you from cleaning off your kids plates as you clean up the kitchen, or popping nibbles into your mouth because you are still in the kitchen.
- Walk away from the table after your meal. Simply leave the kitchen. Clean it up and shut it down. There are too many eating cues and triggers in the kitchen. Even the strongest person with incredible will-power will break the longer they stick around.
- Drink water before and after your meals. Our stomach is cued by fullness, and water can help you feel full. Drink before and after your meals to give you that feeling.
- Pre-measure food and package it yourself. If you make rice, measure out 1/2 cup and put it in a small container. If you buy a huge bag of pretzels, measure out 1 ounce and put it in it’s own little snack box or bag. Measuring once is more convenient than measuring each time you sit down to eat.
- Wear your “tight pants!” Wearing sweats makes it so much easier to over eat! Am I right? Wearing form fitted clothes really does stop you from eating so much that you aren’t comfortable enough to sit.
- Incorporate bulky, yet low calorie foods like veggies. The stomach signals satiety when it’s the receptors notice the volume of food, and fiber rich foods are bulky enough to make this happen before you overeat.
- Avoid mealtime distractions like using your phone or watching TV. If you knew how many bowls of cereal I can eat while scrolling Instagram, you’d enter me into an eating contest! Any distractions can turn your brain off and avoid what you are putting in your mouth.
- Take advantage of natural obstacles (nuts in their shells). How hard is it to eat 1 cup of shelled pistachios vs pistachios in their shells? This slows you down just enough to let your brain catch up with the volume you are eating.
- Avoid eating from the bag or box. You can’t really know how much you’ve eaten if you eat straight from the packaging, unless of course you’ve finished the entire thing. Pour and measure, and then snack on what you’ve measured!
- Keep foods that you have a history of overeating out of the house. (trail mix, crackers, junk food). Why keep food around that you can’t control the portions on. Some foods just push our buttons and engage desire in such a strong way, we can’t resist. Just keep these foods out. Your kids don’t need it. Your partner doesn’t need it. And you don’t need it.
- Learn to estimate portion sizes. You don’t need to weight and measure everything if you get good at estimating portion sizes. Check out the graphic on this article for estimations.
- Avoid highly flavored foods. Salt, sugar, and fat make everything taste so good you don’t want to stop eating. But, choose raw nuts over salted ones, or natural peanut butter over processed with sugar, and you will want to eat less.
- Eat the whole food rather than a blended version. Whole apples are harder to overeat than applesauce. Whole nuts are harder to overeat than peanut butter.
- Make it a habit to not serve yourself seconds. This really is a habit. We often aren’t hungry for a second helping, but to delay the end of the meal, we take it.
- Share a meal with a friend. Going out to eat? Split the meal and only eat half. Your waiter will be happy to do this for you if you just ask.
- Consider appetizers the main dish. Whether you are at home or out to eat, it’s OK to have the appetizer for your meal! You don’t have to order or make an entire entree!
- Keep food out of arm’s reach. Either the office candy dish or the food spread at a family party, don’t hover around it. Step far enough away you can’t repeatedly graze.
- Wear your retainer. If your orthodontist gave you a retainer, put it right back in after a meal! I just had to add this one, because I had Invisilign for awhile, and if I put it back on right after I ate, it would truly stop me from eating until the next meal! haha
- Chew gum. Some people think this is even more effective than simply brushing your teeth, because keeping your mouth busy between meals helps. If you are the type of fidgety person, who likes to always be chewing on something, gum can be your saving grace.
- Keep a journal. Identify the cues that cause you to keep eating when you are done. Do you know WHY you keep eating after a meal? Do you know why you can’t control your portions, or you overeat. Keeping a journal can shed a light on these reasons, so you can start to unravel, tackle, and solve it!
- Increase the fiber at the meal. Fiber helps you achieve fullness with less food.
- Stick to solid foods, rather than liquid! (a plate full of chicken and rice vs. a protein shake will fill you up and help you stay satisfied.
- Slow down your meal. If you normally have lunch in 5 minutes, make the same amount of food last 10 minutes!
- Try chopsticks. Scooping mounds of food from a spoon to your mouth is so effortless, you’re likely to do it quickly and repeatedly. Try chopsticks to shrink the amount of food making it to your mouth.
- Keep promises to yourself. If you decide you are going to a party and will only eat one slice of cake, don’t have two. Commitments to yourself matter!
- Practice daily affirmations! If you have an overeating problem, there is no shame in telling yourself each day, “I only eat the amount of foods my body needs, and not more.”
- Read labels! You might think you’re being smart about a portion size, until you find out a “single serving” bag of trail mix is actually 3 servings!
- Put your fork down between bites. This common practice in mindful eating can also help you slow down, enjoy your food more, and be satisfied by less.
What portion control tips do you have?
I’d love for you to share!! What tips for portion control do you have?
Read next ==> The Ultimate Guide to Portion Control!
these sound oddly like the restriction habits during my depths of my eating disorder, do you truly consider it safe to give such advice? I enjoy your recipes but this truly is a no no.
Hi Luka! I’m so sorry you’ve had to struggle with an eating disorder. I realize what you read about diet on the internet will be through the lens of your challenge. Most people are coming from a place of just trying to get control over their mindless eating. Because eating disorders are triggered from issues other than food, meals, or ideas, a blog post like this wouldn’t create eating disorders where one didn’t already exist. An eating disorder requires mental health therapy, and this isn’t a blog for that. Good luck to you!