It’s pretty common for people to forget about the importance of portion control. With so much focus on fad diets, juicing, or other highly restrictive ideas about how to lose weight, we have lost sight of the importance of making sure we are eating the right amounts of the right foods.
A recent study conducted at Cambridge University found that controlling portions resulted in study participants eating more than 500 fewer calories each day. This equates to about a pound of weight loss per week, simply by reducing portion size. Large portions are so common in our society that people are eating more than ever. Supersized portions add over 500 calories per day, which can lead to weight gain or obesity.
Gareth Holland, Ph.D., a senior research associate at Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine, states, “The message is that, however it happens, reducing the amounts of food that end up in front of us in the first place is key [to weight loss].” The main problem is that it can be difficult to know what appropriate portion sizes are and difficult to establish these new habits.
Here are five tricks that can help you build new habits and start eating the right sized portions:
1. Realize that restaurants usually get it wrong!
Restaurants are notorious for serving highly oversized portions. Make the conscious decision before you even walk into the restaurant that you are going to split an entrée, order an appetizer as your main meal, or have half of your meal boxed before you even begin. Avoid the “all you can eat” places. Also, wait until after you eat to enjoy a cocktail, since drinking alcohol with your meal can lead to overeating.
2. Get smaller plates!
Smaller tableware leads to eating less. We tend to put as much on the plate as it will hold. A full plate looks more appetizing and more satisfying. Smaller plates can automatically result in smaller portions.
3. Learn about portion size!
Most people are very unaware of adequate portion sizes. Learn about the right amounts of food to eat, and stick to those amounts.
4. More veggies!
Start by filling at least half of your plate with veggies and fruits, and avoid the heavy, buttery sauce. Top veggies with healthy herbs and spices. Use ¼ of your plate for lean protein, and the other ¼ for whole grains like brown rice or sweet potatoes.
5. Serve your meal from the kitchen!
Don’t bring large serving dishes to the table. When you leave the food in the kitchen, you will have to get up for seconds, and this often deters the mindless overeating that comes with having the dishes right in front of you.
Breaking the cycle of overeating is challenging, but not impossible. Start with these simple tips and you will find that you are developing new habits that can help you lose more weight.