Downsizing Your Portions

Do you find yourself so hungry that you could literally eat a house? Have you noticed how much you dish on your plate when let yourself get that hungry? It is time to battle back and empower you to take control of your hunger and your portions.

Research shows that we are likely to eat more calories when we have large amounts of food placed in front of us. This often happens without us even noticing. Eating more food than your body uses can lead to weight gain. So whether you are eating out or eating in, here are some tips to help you tip the scale in the right direction.

Eating Out. Many restaurants serve more food than what we should be able to eat. For years, we as a society have demanded “value” when eating out. We got what we asked for and most of the servings we now get are supersized. Take advantage of this value and try splitting an entrée (and the check) with a friend. You can also ask your server to put half of your meal in a to-go box before or right after it’s brought to the table so you are not tempted to keep nibbling on the extras.

Eating In. To help you avoid the temptation of second and third helpings when eating at home, try dishing out your food on an individual plate instead of putting the serving dishes on the table. Keeping the extra food away from where you are eating will make you less tempted to eat more, as well as give you the time to answer the question: Am I still hungry? You can also check out more of our tips on how to dress your table to help you skinny up those portions.

TV Time Snacking. It is best not to eat in front of the TV as we often ignore any actual hunger cues and eat for other reasons such as boredom. If you do snack in front of the TV, put a small amount of food into a bowl or container, and leave the rest of the package in the kitchen. It is easy to overeat when you find your attention is focused on something else.

Hunger Between Meals. If you feel hungry between meals, eat a snack like a small handful of nuts or a small salad that is lower in calories. Having a snack between meals can help keep you from feeling too hungry at your next meal. Being too hungry can cause you to overeat. Another thing to consider is making sure you have a good source of protein at your meals to help you feel full longer.

How Much is Enough? The most accurate way to know portion sizes is to measure your food with a scale and measuring cup. A simple way to measure your portions is to use the plate method that can be found at MyPlate. Most importantly, start paying attention to how you feel while you are eating. Slow down and take your time eating. STOP at the first sensation of fullness.

Controlling Your Environment. Our environment can impact how much we eat more than we may realize. Start being more aware of the things that make you eat more (or less) so you can start making changes within your own environment. Do you find yourself eating the donuts in the break room at work? Try bringing something healthy for everyone to share.

Size of Packaging. For some reason, the larger the package, the more we will eat from it without even realizing it. Here are some tips to helping you outsmart the food industry.

  • Divide up the contents of one large package into several smaller containers.
  • Put a reasonable amount in a bowl or container instead of eating straight from the package.
  • Out of sight, out of mind—people tend to eat more when they have easy access to food.
  • Place especially tempting foods, like cookies, chips, or ice cream, out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move the healthy fare to the front at eye level.
  • Make your home or office a “portion friendly zone.”
  • Get rid of the candy dish, or better yet, replace it with a fruit bowl.
  • When buying in bulk, store the extra food in a place that’s not convenient to get to, such as in a garage or basement.

Keeping a food and emotion journal where you write down what you eat, rate your hunger and discover how other things you may have been experiencing (stress, boredom, etc.) are affecting what you eat. You can learn a lot about your eating habits and how the environment affects you. You can’t change what you can’t see. So by writing it down—how you ate, what you ate, where you were and how full you were—are great strategies to help you define your relationship with food and learn some valuable lessons you can take to help you have a healthy weight. Connect with our experts at the Weight Treatment Center at St. Mark’s Hospital to have an expert help you meet your weight loss goals.


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