Controlling Portion Sizes
Following a healthy diet has as much to do with your mindset as with your physical hunger. When it comes to weight loss and long-term healthy weight maintenance, understanding how to control portion sizes by thinking of them in a different way may help you stay on track.
Standard portion sizes have increased steadily over the past several decades. Restaurant portions, fast-food servings and even the size of the standard dinner plate have increased, and this is looked at as partially responsible for the increased rates of obesity over the past 50 years.
During medical weight loss, you’ll make a number of changes, including becoming more active and learning how to better care for yourself through stress management and improved sleeping patterns. Along with those changes, learning how to use portion sizes to your advantage will help you reach your weight loss goals.
What Is a Serving?
Nutrition labels, the grid found on packaged foods and beverages, list the suggested serving size of a particular item, along with corresponding nutrition information. Calories on the nutrition label are listed per serving, along with grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Essential vitamins and minerals are also listed.
The issue for some people is that they may not measure out a portion size to see how much a single serving really is, leading to the consumption of excess calories. Additionally, if you don’t prepare your own meals, you’re not in control of the quantity you receive. More frequently, health-conscious websites are using quick-reference visual cues to help people understand portion sizes. These cues can help you make better choices when you eat.
- A potato serving is the same size as a computer mouse
- A meat, fish or poultry serving is about the size of your palm (not including your fingers)
- A cheese portion equals about two dice or the tip of your thumb
- A bagel serving is about the size of a hockey puck
- An serving of fruit is about the size of a baseball
When you have an easy visual cue, it’s easier to imagine the portion size on your plate. You may find it helpful to do your own measuring or develop your own visual cues to help you exercise portion control. You may want to consult with your weight loss doctor to develop these cues, as your personal dietary needs will be unique to you.
Reducing Portions to support Medical Weight Loss
One of the easiest ways to reduce the portions you consume is to eat with smaller utensils on smaller plates. When you use a small plate and fill it, your mind will see a full plate and register that you are receiving the “right” portion.
Here are a few additional tips to help you adjust to healthier portions:
- When you serve yourself, take a single portion and put the rest away for later use.
- Be mindful and say no to second helpings.
- If dining out, ask for a to-go box and pack away surplus food for later.
Remember that it’s often easier to be mindful of portion sizes when you sit down to have a meal. Try to avoid eating if you’re distracted, at work or in the car and chew slowly to promote healthy digestion. Slow down, enjoy your food and enjoy the portions that are right for you.