One of the best ways to reduce calorie intake, and ultimately lose weight, is to reduce your food portion sizes.
Research shows that people have a tendency to eat more when they are presented with larger portions. It’s as if we’re still programmed to follow mum’s advice to clean our plates.
The problem with this is that portion sizes have increased significantly in the past 20 years, particularly if you eat out frequently.
According to the National Institute of Health, the average blueberry muffin today contains about 500 calories. Twenty years ago, it would have contained 210… wow!
Typical pizza slices have ballooned from 500 calories in the 1980s, to 850 calories today.
It’s no wonder obesity has become such an epidemic.
Fortunately, knowledge is power — but, only if you choose to use it!
So, here are 7 ideas to downsize your portion sizes:
1. Drink water before each meal
Having a glass or two of water before your meals will help you to feel fuller, without adding any extra calories.
This will obviously help you to eat less at mealtimes, while still feeling satisfied.
2. Reduce your plate size
Using a smaller plate can help you to keep portion sizes realistic, so try using a salad plate for dinner and see how that feels for you.
You can even purchase plates which have been divided into appropriate portion sized sections, giving you a visual cue to the correct amount of food.
Another options is to make a mental division of your dinner plate before serving food out… One 1/2 of your plate should be filled with vegetables, fill a 1/4 with lean proteins or alternatives, and the final 1/4 with wholegrains.
3. Eat slowly
Don’t forget that it takes time for your brain to recognize when you are full.
So, eating slowly and taking the time to properly enjoy your food, gives your brain a chance to receive the appropriate signals from your digestive system to signal satiety.
Also, chew your food properly, and relax and enjoy your surroundings — sounds, smells, sights, etc. You may just find yourself eating less, and enjoying it more.
4. Don’t eat from the package
This is an absolute no-no! Never. Ever. Do. That.
When you eat directly from the pack, there’s simply no way to monitor how much you’ve eaten, and most people end up eating way more than they realize.
This is a simple one to solve.
All you need to do is take one serving out of the bag, or box, and set it on a plate, or in a bowl, so that you can see exactly how much you are munching and stop before it’s too late.
5. Don’t eat in front of the television or computer
In fact, I’ll go a bit further with this one and say, don’t eat anywhere except at a table, when you can sit down and be mindful about what you are eating.
If you eat while watching TV, surfing the net, or even reading, it takes your focus away from the food, so overeating is inevitable.
And, although it’s tempting to snack away without paying much attention to the amount you’re eating, it also reduces the enjoyment you get from your food.
So, it’s much better to set aside time specifically to enjoy your food, and then continue on with your day.
6. Choose smaller portions
We all need to eat away from home at times, so when you do, just choose the smallest portion size available, eat slowly, and enjoy each bite.
Restaurants are probably the biggest offenders when it comes to portion distortion, but smaller sized meals are still satisfying, without adding to your waist-line.
Note: remember the plate proportions I mentioned above (#2), for getting your portion sizes right.
7. Eat nutrient rich foods
If you feel the need for a larger portion, fill your plate with mostly vegetables or salad, and enjoy a smaller portion of those higher calorie foods — no one said you can’t have a little!
When you make these nutrient dense foods your go-to choice, you will automatically be eating less… think about it, it’s difficult to overeat on broccoli or salad, isn’t it?
The good news about all of this is, that you don’t have to feel like you’re starving yourself to achieve a significant calorie reduction.
It’s a matter of teaching yourself to become more mindful about your eating habits, and eating just enough to feel satisfied, but no more.
The bonus is that eating mindfully helps you get more enjoyment from your meals, without feeling like you’re making a huge sacrifice.
So, what are your tips for downsizing your portion sizes?