When you think of a healthy eating you may think of foods like vegetables or fruits. Perhaps cutting sugars or fats also comes to mind. There are many ways to eat healthier but one of my favorite is portion control. Today I’ll be walking you through five ways you can practice portion control in your everyday life.
I know healthy eating can be confusing with so much misinformation available on the internet. We, as humans, tend to over complicate the most basic concepts of healthy eating. With fad diets instructing us to cut entire food groups, detox on juice, eat more fat, cut sugar, track calories, so on and so on! It can really leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. I genuinely understand that frustration and it’s something most of my clients struggle with before coming to see me.
The truth is, healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Eat as many whole foods as possible. Reduce your processed food intake. Drink enough water. Get enough sleep. Move your body. And do all of this with balance.
I believe in the saying, “Everything in moderation” and the practice that makes this concept so successful is portion control.
Let’s take a look at five ways you can practice portion control:
1. Balance your plate
Focus on putting whole foods on your plate that consist of lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats. This combination helps keep your blood sugar levels stable, sustains energy, and keeps you feeling satisfied longer. As an example, your plate should look a little something like this:
- Fiber – Vegetables such as asparagus, leafy greens, butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, or buckwheat
- Lean Protein – Eggs, chicken breast, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, tofu, or tempeh
- Fat – Avocado, nut butter, seeds, nuts, olive oil, or ghee
For more information on healthy choices by food group or how to build a balanced plate visit: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/
2. Read the food label
Food labels are meant to inform the consumer of what’s in their food product so that they can make healthier food choices. The most important thing to refer to before looking at the calories, fat, or sugars is the correct portion size. The portion size on the food label tells you exactly what’s in that portion. However, what we consume may not always be the correct portion size. For example: a food label may say 120 calories per serving on a single pack of snack crackers. This might lead the consumer to believe that the entire bag of cracks is 120 calories. However, the portion size will tell you if a single portion is 5 crackers, the whole bag, etc.
For more tips on food label reading click here.
3. Tune into your body
In this fast paced world we often ignore hunger and fullness cues. We may be rushing to get food and eat our lunch or squeeze in dinner before the kids after-school activities. When we rush to eat our meals in this way, we usually miss the signals our stomach is sending to the brain, telling it that it’s full. If you often feel too full after eating, you may be missing the signs. Be mindful when you eat, chewing slowly and savoring each bite. Give you stomach the chance to send the signal of fullness to the brain. When you start doing this, you’ll be less likely to over eat.
4. Consider the contents
Let’s say you do portion out your nutritious meal. And you eat it slowly. But you’re now staring at an empty plate of food, wishing you had more. This is a great time to consider the contents of your meal. Refer back to #1. A balanced plate consists of fibers, fats, and lean protein. If you’re dishing up a plate of iceberg lettuce for dinner with a plain vinegar dressing with little to no protein, you may be missing out on key ingredients to keep you satiated and full. Check back in with yourself and consider what you’re missing. If you need additional nutrients, try adding a small portion of protein or fat in the form of a healthy snack such as nut butter with veggies or fruit.
5. Avoid portion distortion when eating out
When you order from your favorite restaurants, the portions you receive are usually double what you need in one sitting. Be mindful of what’s on your plate and what the proper portion should be. There are a few ways to approach this:
- Order something smaller rather than a full entrée, like an appetizer and a soup or salad
- Share a full sized entrée with someone
- Split it into two separate portions before digging in and save the rest for tomorrow
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re unsure of where you start your health journey or you just simply want to take a step in the right direction, start with a few of these portion control tips today. Incorporating 1-2 with every meal you eat and you’ll find that your healthy eating efforts will truly pay off!