Find yourself piling your plate high, only to regret it later when you can’t button up your jeans? Going all out every so often is perfectly fine everything in moderation, right?
You can also eat the “healthiest” diet, but if you eat too much, you’ll still put on weight. Losing weight and weight management is all about the balance of how many calories you take in and how many you burn off. Balance is definitely key, but sometimes it’s not so much about what you eat, but regulating how much you’re eating. That’s where portion control comes in.
How Does Portion Control Help You Lose Weight?
If you want to lose weight, then you need to burn off more calories than you eat — this is called a calorie deficit. reducing your portion size is definitely not about starving yourself, or struggling through an active day without the fuel to get you to the end of it in one piece.
Portion control is about taking a step back and adding a little bit of method to what and when you eat. It’s all about making sure your body gets what it needs throughout the day and cutting out the excess. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or really strict.
So check out these 8 portion control hacks that hopefully teach you a thing or two…
1. Start with water
A lot of the time, when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty, and so you’ll consume excess food that you don’t really need. So, if you’re feeling peckish, but feel as though you’ve eaten enough, try having a glass of water instead. You can also drink a glass of water before each meal, which will fill up some of the space in your stomach, so there’s less room for lots of food.
In 2014, a study in which women drank 500ml of water before each meal saw a reduction in their appetite, body weight, body mass, and BMI. So, get sipping!
2. Fill your plate with vegetables
You can cut calories by making a bigger portion of your plate all about the vegetables. Vegetables are less calorie dense than other food groups, but will fill up the same amount of space in your stomach. Not only do they fill you up, they contain water and provide you with a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals.
Our recommendation: whatever snack you’re craving, find a vegetable that mimics the same texture and consistency and use them to make up the bulk of each meal. For example, switch crisps for carrot sticks for that satisfying crunch without the calories.
3. Get smart with your dinnerware
One of the oldest tricks in the book is to use a smaller size plate when you dish up your meals. This way, you won’t be able to put as much food on your plate, which will naturally restrict the amount of food you will be eating for that meal.
A study done in 2017 has shown that eating from a smaller plate increased the feeling of fullness and reduced food intake in test subjects of a normal healthy weight.
4. Use carbs as a topper rather than the base
Usually carbs are the foundation of your meal, with protein and fruit or vegetables being the secondary focus. Instead, you should do the exact opposite. Make your protein and vegetables the main part of your meal and come to your carbohydrate last to make up the remainder of your calories for that meal.
It’s all too easy to pile you plate high with potato and pasta, so weigh it out to know exactly how much is too much. You’ll soon get used to what a decent portion size looks like on your plate and will be able to measure without weighing it.
5. Don’t eat from the bag
Whether it’s your favorite crisps or a healthier snack, eating out of a large pack is an easy way to eat more than you realise. Even if it’s something healthy, eating out of bag makes it tempting to finish in one serving, and consequently eat much more food than you really need.
To avoid finishing (another) family-sized bag of crisps on your own, try separating the food into smaller containers when you eat. Not only will this help you eat less in one go, but it will also make that bag of chips last longer. You can even measure out the recommended portion size on the packet to know how many calories you’re adding to your day.
6. Have some soup before your main meal
Filling up on liquids before your meal will take the edge off your hunger pangs and prevent you from eating more than you need. Similar to the water hack, having some soup or a broth as an entree will help to fill you up before your main meal.
Make sure you’re not opting for a heavy soup, however. Opt for a light broth, or vegetable-based soup rather than one filled with meat or dairy.
7. Use your hands as portion guides
You don’t need any fancy scales and measuring cups to determine your portion sizes. In fact, your hand is the perfect guide. Typically, a clenched fist roughly equates to about a cup of rice and your palm is around an 85g serving of meat.
Using the size of your hand or palm is great for determining how much food you really need. If you ate a palm-sized portion of something yesterday and it filled you up, make sure you don’t go bigger than that the next time.
If you don’t think this is quite accurate enough for you, then measure out your food with scales. Most food packaging has a recommended serving size, so you can know exactly how much you’re having.
8. Focus on eating more slowly
Eating slower helps you to digest your food better and gives you the time to consider how full you feel. Rather than rushing through and thinking about what you can have next, slow down and savour every bite.
A study published in the British Medical Journal has shown that eating the same amount of calories over half an hour instead of just 5 minutes increased feelings of fullness, concluding that slowing down how quickly you eat a meal could stop you from eating more if you’re already feeling full.
Portion control isn’t about starving yourself, it’s just being more conscious of what and how you eat so that you can fuel your body properly without overdoing it. These small changes are easy to adjust to, which in turn makes them easier to stick to.