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6 Simple Strategies for Portion Control

We all know that portion control is one of the most effective ways to control our weight without restricting the foods we love. But we don’t always act on that knowledge, do we? Despite your resistance, portion control is not as difficult as you may think. Here are my top tips to easily portion control any meal.

1) Plate Shrinkage

We all have a general expectation as to what the size of a dinner plate should be and, household to household, this expectation tends to be the same- 12 inches. But why? Have you ever stopped to question why your plates are that size? Probably not- it’s just automatic. Consider ditching your traditional 12 inch plates for 10 inch ones. Making this simple change could also help you ditch up to 20% of your calories at each meal! Now that’s a change that can really add up to big benefit! Why is this? Well we like to fill our plates. So, whatever the size of our plate, we decide appropriate portions based on what fills the plate. So if we are filling a smaller plate, we feel confident with a smaller portion. Simple as that!

2) Choose ‘Speed Bump’ Foods

Some foods are slightly more complicated to eat and add a natural barrier to quick eating. Imagine eating peanuts that are still in the shell vs peanuts that are already shelled for you. The peanuts in the shell require more work and take more time so you are less likely to eat as much. Plus, they have some debris: those leftover peanuts shells are a visual reminder of how much you’ve eaten. This is also the case with un-shelled pistachios. In addition, foods with pits or bones provide a lot of these same benefits (cherries, seeded grapes, chicken wings, etc.)

3) Stop Eating out of the Bag

Eating chips out of the bag can sound easy and enticing but it makes it incredibly difficult for you to keep tabs on how much you have eaten. That doesn’t mean that you can’t eat chips; it just means you should avoid eating them directing out of the packaging. Instead, grab a bowl and fill it with a serving. This way, you are portioning your chips while building in a little mindfulness by actually seeing what you are eating!

4) Water Before Food

Water has some important impacts on weight that you might not know. For starters, most of us can’t distinguishing the initial feelings of thirst from hunger. As such, we often end up eating when a glass of water would have done the trick. Also, water takes up space in our stomach and can help us feel fuller sooner. So, drinking water before meals can resolve both of these problems: it can help you avoid thirst so you are not eating when you are simply thirsty. And it can help you eat less at mealtimes. Not a huge water fan? Trying adding some lemon, cucumbers, watermelon, or strawberries to make your water more enjoyable! Or check out this page for some fun ‘spa water’ inspiration!

5) Take Your Time

Most of us know that we eat way too fast. And slowing down your eating is one of the more effective ways to achieve satiation (the pleasant feeling of fullness without having to eat as much to get there. A quick and easy way to slow down your eating is to listen to slower paced music while you eat! You will naturally slow down your eating rhythm leading to a slower and more relaxed meal. By eating slower, you will help identify your fullness earlier and will be more relaxed while eating. This, in turn, will aide with digestion and processing of your meal in a more efficient manner!

6) Half a Plate of Veggies

Traditionally speaking, meals are built around protein and carbohydrates, with veggies being a secondary thought that gets thrown in on the side. Which is a sad thought given that veggies are usually the most nutritious part of your meal! Not only are they loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep you healthy and vibrant, but they are ALSO low calorie and filled with fiber. That means they fill you up while decreasing your overall calorie intake! So start thinking about meals based on veggies first and put them on center stage for a change! Zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash enchiladas, veggie stew, broccoli casserole- you get the idea! This will naturally decrease your portions of all non-veggies foods.

Yup, portion control is as easy as those 6 things! So, no more excuses—start implementing these tips for some effortless portion control and experience all of the benefits!

Want to learn even more about portion sizes and meal planning? Get my FREE Guide here!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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