Almost daily, I will have someone tell me that although they eat healthy and exercise, they just can’t seem to lose weight. My first thought is usually that they may be eating healthy foods but they are probably eating too much of them. We all know that portion sizes are out of control at restaurants these days but most people don’t realize that their portions are too big at home, as well. Here are some simple portion control tips that are easy to implement and can make a big difference with your fat loss success!
Tip #1 – You can still eat your favorite foods, just cut your portion size in half. For example, if you are used to eating a whole submarine sandwich at lunch, try eating half of the sandwich along with some fresh fruits or veggies on the side. Wait a few minutes after finishing your meal and you will probably find that you are too full to eat the other half.
Tip #2 – When you eat out, ask your server for a to-go container as soon as your food is served. Then put some of the food in the container right away. This will prevent you from eating it all just because it is there and you will have lunch for tomorrow.
Tip #3 – Listen to the signs of hunger. While you’re eating a meal, be conscious of your satisfaction level and stop when you hit the 80% mark. You don’t need to gorge yourself and shovel tons of food into your mouth so slow down a little and really focus on feeling how your body is reacting to the foods you’re eating.
Tip #4 – When dining out at restaurants, ask if they offer a lunch-sized portion of their dishes which are smaller than their full-size dinner entrees.
Tip #5 – NEVER super-size anything! Choose the normal sizes from the menu even if it’s only a few cents more. You don’t need all those extra calories!
Tip #6 – When you get home from the grocery store, separate foods into single-serving portions and place them into snack bags. This will help prevent you from eating a whole bag of chips or box of cookies later.
Tip #7 – Read food labels to find out exactly what a serving is. You may be surprised to find that you are eating 3 or 4 servings of your healthy snack foods. Remember, even foods that are good for you can make you gain weight if you are eating too much of them.
Tip #8 – Avoid All-You-Can-Eat buffets! They are just too tempting and the mentality is to “break the bank” and get your money’s worth. Avoid this gluttony trap and just skip the buffets.
Tip #9 – Learn these portion size standards: 3 ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards, 1 ounce of meat is the size of a matchbook, 1 cup of potatoes, rice or pasta looks like a tennis ball.
Tip #10 – In case you cannot remember the ideal portions for each food, you can always get some help. There are measuring cups, spoons and other utensils to measure precise portions. There are even special plates that guide you with the correct portions of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates.
Tip #11 – Try to use smaller plates. If you get a smaller plate, less food fits on it. You will also be tricked by the fact that it looks like a lot more food. You will end up eating a healthy and normal portion.
Tip #12 – Skipping meals is another common mistake. People might think that if they skip breakfast they will start losing weight really quickly because they are avoiding calories. Don’t do this! If you skip breakfast you will be extremely hungry by lunch time and your portions will be over-sized which means more calories. Eating a nutrient dense breakfast when you first wake up in the morning is very important for kick-starting your metabolism and getting your body out of a highly catabolic state (breaking down tissue).
Tip #13 – Right before you eat your main meal, eat a small side salad or some fresh vegetables (carrots, celery sticks). When it is time for the big meal, you will not be as hungry as you would be since you have some food in your stomach which will help you avoid overeating.
Tip #14 – Snacking is essential to reduce the amount of food you eat during the day. You should eat a snack at least 2-3 hours after each meal and you need to make sure that the snacks are healthy. They should contain around 200-300 calories. You can eat an apple, a granola bar, nuts or a Greek yogurt to keep your metabolism revved up.
Tip #15 – Stay hydrated. You should be drinking around 2 liters, or 8 glasses, of water a day. Keeping your system hydrated is important because it makes you feel full without the need of adding additional calories to your diet. This feeling will help you avoid eating large amounts of food.
Tip #16 – Eat slowly! Your stomach releases hormones that help you feel satisfied. Various studies have shown that if you eat too fast, these key hormones are released a lot slower and you won’t feel full until much later. So, a portion eaten in a short period of time is usually much larger than one eaten slowly and with more patience.
Tip #17 – If you are at a restaurant and you are craving a certain dessert or entree, you can order it but try to share it with your company. Your body is simply craving for a little bit of that food and it is not necessary to eat a huge portion to feel satisfied.
Tip #18 – Have a cheat snack once in a while. You can eat anything you find delicious but just make sure it’s all in moderation. If you love nachos, do not eat from a huge oversized bag. Just take out an appropriate serving and put it in a bowl. Or, you can simply buy a single serving bag.
Tip #19 – Measure oils very carefully. If you cook with olive oil or use it on your salads, make sure to use a measuring spoon to control the portion size. Olive oil is great for you but it does have a bunch of calories, so don’t “wing it” and pour a lot on or you may go way over the appropriate serving size (119 calories per tablespoon).
Tip #20 – Stay focused! Always keep your goals in mind and remember how much you want them. If you are not conscious about the quantity you are eating on a daily basis you will fail to get to your desired weight so stay on track and don’t give up!