8 tips to help control portion sizes for sustains weight loss
One of the simplest things you can do to help manage your weight is becoming more aware of portion sizes.
Unfortunately, between our tendency to overserve ourselves and the inclination to finish what’s on our plate, portion control isn’t as easy as ‘don’t eat too much.’
But with these simple portion control methods and by filling up on the right foods, you can be more in control of the amount of food you eat without feeling hungry.
1. Use smaller plates and portion-controlled containers
This may sound like a no-brainer when it comes to controlling portions, but there’s some science behind its success.
As we said earlier, people eat more when served larger portions. By using smaller plates for meals and portioned containers for leftovers, you can’t overeat because you’ve given yourself a set amount of food.
2. Follow your Smart Card and stick with GOLO’s 2-1-2-1 formula when building your plate
The GOLO Smart Card and our 2-1-2-1 formula is the perfect guide to help you fill your plate with the proper amount of protein, carbs, vegetables, and healthy fats you need to eat a balanced meal.
3. Use your hands as a portion guide
When we talk about using your hands when you eat, we don’t mean you should only dine on wings and ribs. What we mean is to use your hands as a portion control guide.
You won't always have access to a smaller plates or the time to eat slowly every time you eat. Which is why learning how to use your hands is an excellent technique for portion control.
A guide for using your hand to portion your meal:
4. Practice mindful eating
While your taste buds let you know right away how something tastes, it takes about 20 minutes after you start eating for the message that you’re full to form and reach your brain. This is where the term ‘mindful eating’ comes in to play.
When you practice mindful eating, you’re helping your brain work for you so you can help yourself make healthier eating choices.
What are the best ways to eat mindfully?
Eat at a slower pace: Eating slowly allows your brain to catch up with your stomach so you know when you are full.
Eat ‘in the moment’: Doing other things such as watching TV while eating tends to increase food intake. So, turn off your TV, put down your phone, and focus on the meal in front of you.
“Listen” to your body’s fullness cues: Take a moment to stand up and move around at some point during your meal. When you start to feel full, give yourself some time before taking another bite.
5. Drink a glass of water before your meal
The importance of staying hydrated is well documented. But drinking a glass of water before you sit down to eat can also help with portion control.
Whether it’s approximately 30 minutes before a meal or throughout the day, drinking water can help with portion control. Not only does having water in your stomach makes you feel fuller, but according to the Mayo Clinic, drinking water either during or after a meal aids digestion.
6. Stick to a regular eating schedule
Your body will let you know when it’s time to eat. If you’re on a set eating schedule, you’ll be able to anticipate mealtimes and prepare your food before you feel like you’re ‘starving.’
Eating before you get too hungry is a great way to ensure you feel full without being enticed to go back for seconds.
Whatever your schedule, it’s important not to wait too long between meals. GOLO suggests spacing your meals between 4-6 hours apart and not going longer than 6 hours without eating.
7. Fill up on the right foods
Being mindful of portions doesn’t mean that you have to count calories. In order to eat the right portions of food without going hungry, we recommend eating low energy-dense food that is low in calories.
Foods that contain more calories (energy) per pound, such as oils and nuts, have a high energy density. Whereas meat, fruit, and non-starchy vegetables tend to have fewer calories per pound and are considered low energy-dense foods.
When trying to lose weight while still eating enough so you don’t feel hungry, it’s important to eat foods that are low in energy density.
Low energy-dense foods that will keep you feeling full for longer:
- Vegetables like salad greens, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini
- Fruit: strawberries, grapefruit, bananas
- Carbohydrates: whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, steel-cut oats, brown rice
- Dairy: Whole milk, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
- Protein: Eggs, lean meat, fish, tofu
- Fats: Nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil
8. Keep a food diary
It’s one thing to be mindful about what you’re putting into your body. But you may have a completely different perspective on what you’re eating and drinking when you write everything down in a food diary.
Keeping a food diary for a short period of time, such as 1-2 weeks, can help you spot problems that might be sabotaging your weight loss.
By tracking what you’re eating and drinking for every meal, you can become more aware of your eating habits. It’s only after you know your bad habits that you’re able to break them. Make sure you track everything that you eat and not just meals. A bite of this and a piece of that can add up over time.
Benefits of keeping a food diary:
- Increased awareness of positive and negative eating habits and patterns
- Helps to identify food sensitivities
- It makes it easier to change your behavior
Quick Tip: The more specific, the better. Don’t just make a note of how much you ate of something. Write down ingredients, what time you ate, and how you felt after eating. This makes it easier to identify problematic eating habits.
How to Portion Control When Eating Out
Most restaurants want you to leave feeling full, so they tend to serve much larger portions than you need.
But there’s no need to cancel dinner plans just because you’re being mindful of portions. Instead, try these portion control strategies so you don’t overeat when eating out.
- Start with soup or salad: Including a brothy soup or leafy greens is a great way to start a meal.
- Share a meal: Cut your cost and your portion with a friend.
- Order a healthy appetizer: Sneak in an extra serving of veggies before you order your main dish.
- Ask for a to-go container right away: That way, when your food comes, you can easily portion out what you want to eat and put the rest in the container to take home!
- Enjoy the experience: Remember our tips for mindful eating? Dining out is a great opportunity to relax, take in your surroundings, and enjoy your company.
How Portion Control Can Help with Successful Weight Management
When it comes to successful weight management, your focus should be on the quality of the food you eat, not the number of calories you consume.
Building a balanced plate means you’re eating a complete meal. You don’t have to cut out food groups or give up foods you love to lose weight. You just have to learn what to eat and how to structure the meal.
The bottom line: food is meant to nourish and be enjoyed. So, eat what you love, be mindful of the quantity you eat, and find happiness with every meal.
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