Figuring out what constitutes a serving size can be one of the trickiest parts of living a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to completely eliminate your favorite foods to maintain your diet, but you should know how to accurately judge portion sizes so that you stay in control. Combine that knowledge with a few tips for keeping those sizes reasonable, and you’ll be in good shape (literally!)
Different foods will have different portion sizes, and it can be hard to keep track of the differences. WebMD created a handy portion control guide that can be printed off and kept in your wallet. You can quickly see that 10 fries equals one cup, or that a serving size of lean meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards.
Knowing serving sizes means that you don’t have to eliminate your favorite foods… you just have to control how much of them you consume.
Controlling the portions on your plate has a number of direct and indirect health benefits. Weight loss is an obvious benefit – if your portions decrease in size and your activity levels remain the same or increase, you’ll likely shed some weight.
Eating smaller portions also conditions your body to acknowledge that it’s full after consuming less food. This is especially important for cheat meals or guilty pleasure snacks. If you can train your mind and body to accept that a craving is satisfied with one or two Oreos, rather than an entire box, you’ll be in a good place diet-wise.
Eating mindfully can also help you control those 100 or 200-calorie increases that tend to sneak up when you aren’t expecting them.
Tricking your brain makes it much easier to control portion sizes effortlessly. If you’re struggling with overeating, or just want to be more mindful, try out these simple tips.
A full plate seems innately more satisfying than a half-filled plate, so try switching to smaller plates and bowls. You’ll still get the gratification of enjoying a heaping bowl of your favorite meals without going overboard.
Breakfast can be a traditionally carb-heavy meal, but try adding some extra protein to the start of your day. It’ll help you stay full longer, and reduce your urge to snack. Add a scoop of protein powder to your oatmeal, make an omelet, or throw some extra nuts on your cereal.
Often, we’re told to eat several small meals throughout the day to keep our metabolisms rolling. However, research from 2011 suggests that eating many small meals doesn’t do a whole lot for appetite control. The study actually found that increased eating frequency had little, if any, bearing on appetite control and food consumption. However, eating fewer than three times per day was also found to negatively impact appetite control.
Plenty of people shovel food into their mouths without thoroughly chewing… and most of us have no idea we’re doing it! Try paying attention to how you chew your food over the course of a few portion controlled meals. If you realize that you’re mindlessly swallowing your food make an effort to slow down. Enjoy each bite, taste the flavors, and then swallow.
Plus, slowing down to savor your food will make that donut taste even better! Enjoy what you eat, just stay healthy with the portion control and other simple tricks listed here.