At the core of every diet is the recommendation of adding portion control into your daily routine.  I’m not a fan of “diets” but I do believe that proper portion control can have a positive impact on your ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  While portion control and awareness is the easiest way to lose weight, it is also one of the hardest practices to implement.  Here are 8 tips to better portion control:

  1. Know Your Triggers- There are certain things that set us off.  They may not be the same things for everyone but that’s why identifying your own triggers can help you plan ahead and avoid overeating.  For me, I’m the family “baker.”  Every holiday, I found myself surrounded by (and tasting) cookie dough, cake batter, pies, you name it.  Knowing that this is one of my triggers does not mean I have to stop baking.  Instead, I now keep a glass of water nearby.  Rather than reaching for spoonfuls, or fistfuls (if I’m being realistic), of cookie dough, I now taste only for quality control and then drink water
  2. Chew- When I say chew, I don’t mean just enough to swallow.  I mean, really chew enough to break down your food.  Chew, and then chew some more.  This aids in digestion, slows down your meal, and helps you realize sooner that you’re full.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that people that chew more, consumed about 12% fewer calories and had lower levels of ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone produced in the stomach
  3. Crowd Out- A common misconception is that portion control means tiny portions of everything.  Quite the contrary!  Add volume without the calories by eating more vegetables and leafy greens.  You will fill up on the “good stuff” and eat less sugary or fattening foods.
  4. Drink Water- Drink a glass of water before eating and continue to drink throughout the meal.  Try alternating bites with sips.  Not only can eating while dehydrated make it harder to digest food, but you may also feel hungrier.
  5. Plate Your Food- Sounds fancy, I know.  Before you start studying the Food Network, I’m only recommending that you serve food on your plate rather than eating family style.  This way, you’re less likely to keep picking at food left out on the table, long after you’re full.
  6. Know the Serving Size- A fellow friend and health coach recently introduced me to these portion controlled Tupperware containers.  This is a perfect way to learn the proper portions of various food groups.  If you don’t want to buy these, no problem.  Use smaller plates and ramekins (instead of cereal bowls), for fruit, desserts, etc.  You can also make your own single serving snack packs.  When you bring bulk food home, portion it out into small Ziploc bags, maintaining freshness and guaranteeing you eat the proper portion.
  7. Set the Scene- Sit down and avoid distractions when you’re eating.  This goes for meals and snacks!  Try not to eat while scrolling through your Instagram feed or working on your computer.  Focus on your food and you will enjoy it more and avoid consuming excess calories by eating mindlessly.
  8. Know When to Stop- Instead of eating until you’re full, eat until you’re satisfied.  There’s a difference!  If after 20 minutes (the tame it takes to digest your food) you’re still hungry, guess what?  You can always have more!  More often than not, you will have eaten the perfect amount and cut down on calories.

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