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Portion Control Tips: 11 Ways to Avoid Portion Distortion and Eat the Right Amount of Food

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If you want to lose weight, there are all sorts of fad diets out there.

You could try plans like: Low Fat, Low Carb, Mediterranean or Calorie Restrictive.

There are many differences between these diets, but they all have something in common. At their core, they recommend adding portion control into your daily routine.

Now, I’m not really a fan of any specific “diet” because most of them aren’t effective in the long-term.  However, I do believe that developing the habit of portion control can have a positive impact on your ability to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Side bar: One simple health habit you can build is to drink this superfood green drink, which gives you a boost of energy and supplies your body with the nutrients it needs to get through the day. (You can also read the review of it here.)

In this article we will discuss 11 portion control tips to help you lose weight, maintain healthy eating, and create a habit of having a normal portion size with each meal.

11 Ways to Build the Portion Control Habit

Focus on Portion Control for 30 Days

Make portion control your one habit change for at least a month. “One habit at a time” should be your focus and mantra.

Many people attack weight loss like it’s part of a multi-front war campaign. They diet. They start an exercise routine. They eat less. They eat healthily. They try to get the right amount of sleep. They reduce calorie intake.

Don't get me wrong, all of these strategies are great. But it’s impossible to add them all at once.  What usually happens is ego depletion sets in; you start to backslide and ultimately give up because it’s almost impossible to perfectly change multiple habits at the same time.

Plan Your Portion Control Habit

Every habit change needs a plan. That’s why you need to plan for the following situations:

  • How will you measure food portion size?
  • What routines can you attach this new habit to?
  • What are your obstacles?
  • What are your triggers?
  • What tools can help you control portions?
  • How will you deal with temptations to eat more?

Make a plan for the portion control habit.  Ultimately this will be the difference-maker when it comes to permanently adopting this routine.

Learn Serving Sizes

One of the very best portion control tips is learning exactly what the proper serving size really is.

These days. most serving sizes are ridiculously large. Because of this most people tend to underestimate serving sizes these days. That’s why it’s important to learn how to read food labels.

Unfortunately, manufacturers purposefully make it hard to understand their labels because the more you eat, the more money you’ll spend on their products.

At some point, it’s worthwhile to understand the metrics behind serving sizes.  This will help you to visualize what’s “enough” food for you.

As an example, here are a few portion sizes that can help with your visualization efforts:

  • 3 ounces (meat or fish) = deck of cards
  • 1/2 cup is one ice cream scoop
  • 1 cup of brown rice is the size of a closed fist

Most people think they know a portion size, and most people are wrong. The super-sized mentality has skewed our viewpoint on what’s considered normal.  By understanding portion sizes, you’ll know how much is appropriate to eat at each meal.

The example above is a 9-inch plate. A size much closer to a full plate being the “proper” size for meals.

Eat more Vegetables Fruits and Other Healthy Alternatives

I’m sure you remember your mom saying this.  I admit it, I’m not crazy about most vegetables; but they’re important for healthy eating.

One of the keys to mastering portion control is to eat lots of vegetables throughout the day.  Why? Because vegetables are: low in calories, packed with vitamins, and filled anti-oxidants and minerals.  When it comes to food portion control, you can almost ignore large servings of veggies because they have a low amount of calories when compared to other foods.

So eat more foods like, veggies, brown rice, fruits, and unprocessed grains, and ice cream, chips, steaks and processed foods.

Portion control plate image. Great ways to learn the size of 1 cup of food in a visual sense.  | control portions for losing weight

Use Portion Control Plates

Portion control plate.  A great way to  measure portion size.

Since 1980 the average plate size has increased from 9 inches to 12 inches.  That’s an increase of 33%. A simple solution is to reverse this trend is to buy a 33% smaller plate. Fill it up all you want, piling on the veggies and salad.  That way you’ll be full, satiated and eat less.

Don't want to buy new plates? You can do the same thing with a portion control plate tool.  Simply lay it over your plate and fill up each section with the proper food portion

[See the best portion control plates]

Prepare Meals at Home

Restaurants give huge portions that taste great; but are filled with an insane amount of calories.  Sure, the occasional dinner out can be a treat.  But for the majority of the time, it’s far better to prepare meals at home.

Eating at home also means cooking your own meals.  It’s tempting to throw a T.V. dinner into the microwave, but most of these are filled with junk calories.  Plus they contain preservatives and don’t have a substantial amount of vegetables.  The simpler solution is to cook your own food, which allows you to control and monitor all aspects of the food you’re eating. [54 easy homemade meals for two]

Sneak in Veggies

Many people have a tough time eating their veggies.  The trick is to find the veggies that you like and try to “sneak” them into the dishes that you prepare.   Just add a few extra veggies into a recipe, to turn a non-veggie dish into something that’s healthier.

For instance, sneaking in veggies is a particularly effective strategy when preparing sandwiches, soups, and casseroles.

Pack Your Leftovers Immediately

After loading up your plate at mealtime, immediately pack away the leftovers.  If you are really hungry, you can always unpack your leftovers later.  But this simple habit will remove the likelihood of “eating out of convenience.”  By packing the food away, you’ll increase the chances of stopping after a single-serving meal.

One great way to store leftover is portion control containers, which give a great way to measure and store leftovers. [See the best portion control containers]

Turn a Single Meal Out into 2 Meals

If you do go out to eat, only eat half the plate.  In fact, ask your waitress/waiter to bring a “to-go box” the moment they bring you a meal and then put half away for a future meal.  Most of the time, you can’t control the “badness” of a restaurant meal, but you can at least reduce the total number of calories. [See freezer meal ideas for multiple dinners]

Use Oil Sparingly

When cooking you sometimes need oil, but use it sparingly and try healthy alternatives like olive oil or safflower oil. Using less oils help significantly in losing weight

Prepare Single Serving Packages

If you cook large amounts of food, separate the leftovers into single-serving packages.  This makes it easy to grab a sensible food portion sized lunch for work or school.

Final Thoughts on Portion Control

Most “diets” don't work in the long-term.  What does work is following a plan that incorporates sensible eating, minimizing “junk food” adding healthy foods like vegetables, food portion control, and adding in a simple workout routine? Make it a point to incorporate these 11 strategies over the next 30 days and you’ll be on the road to forming the portion control habit.

Now it’s on to you.

Do you have any portion control tips you’d like to share? How have you fared with monitoring your healthy eating habits in the past?  What has worked (or not worked) for you? Let us know.

Finally, if you need more guidance on how to start on a healthy diet, learn how to set SMART goals for nutrition here.

Portion size is out of control. Discover 11 actionable portion control tips to manage calorie intake, eat less and help  you in losing weight.

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