I have gotten a lot of questions recently about portion control, so I thought I would write a blog post about it as it is something I struggled with a lot when I was overweight and when I first started to lose weight and I know it is something many of you struggle with too.
One of the main reasons I was overweight was because my portions were too large. Even when I was trying to be healthy, I was still eating way too much and when I wasn’t working out, I was eating more than my body knew what to do with. I love food. I always have done and I always will do. Even now it is very easy for me to eat too much, because I really do love food and I love eating, so I have to be careful. The great thing is, I can still enjoy food and maintain my weight loss, I just have to watch my portion size. This is especially important if I am enjoying a treat meal or something. If I am having salad, then I don’t think there are too many greens that I can add to it.
Because this is something many people have an issue with, I thought I would share with you my portion control tips that I have learned along the way.
1) Only make as much as you need – I am the worst for this. Or at least I used to be. I just used to pour the pasta into the pan, not really thinking about it and when it was cooked, despite there being way too much, I just used to serve it all. Now, I measure out how much I need, so I don’t overeat. If I am wanting to have leftovers for the next day, or to go into the freezer, I work out exactly how much I need for that and then portion it out straight away so there is no going back for seconds.
2) Not everyone in your family needs to eat the same amount – I was always eating the same amount as my husband, who was much more active than I was and I didn’t need to. I just automatically served us the same portions, which led to me eating too much.
3) Portion out your treat foods - You know I am not one to say that you should deny yourself of all your favourite foods all the time, but it doesn’t mean you should go overboard either. If cookies are your downfall, when you buy them, separate them into portions and put them in individual bags. This is much better than eating them straight from the packet, as you are less likely to continue eating more than a portion.
4) Skip mindless eating – When you eat, think about what you are eating and don’t just pick things that are there. For example a big bowl of crisps/chips that are on the table. Take out a portion and eat those, don’t just pick from the bowl. Or a basket of bread on the table at a restaurant – you will pick at it and you probably won’t even remember how much you have had.
5) Get smaller plates and bowls – I used to eat out of huge bowls that looked like serving bowls. Sure, they looks nice – but they were way too big. Get smaller plates and bowls (although not tiny ones that are too small) and you won’t put on more food than you need, as it won’t fit.
6) Serve most things in the kitchen – The food that you need to limit, say pasta, should be served on plates in the kitchen, but put bowls of veggies and salad on the table for people to help them selves. That way, if people want seconds, they can go for the healthier stuff.
7) Split meals when eating out – this is not always the case, but in most restaurants the portions are way too big – big enough for 2. So, split it with your partner or friend, or if you are by yours, take half home. You won’t overeat that way.
8) Know your serving sizes – Knowing how much of each food is a portion means you will know how much you should be cooking. There are loads of great guides online, so take a look and print them out to keep in your kitchen
9) Don’t skip meals – If you are skipping a meal, you might think it is going to save you calories, but you are much more likely to overeat at the next meal.
10) Avoid trigger foods – If there is something that you know that you just can’t stop at one serving with, then try to avoid it until you have dealt with the issues that cause you to overeat that food (like emotional eating)
11) Don’t be fooled by labels – Just because something says it is organic, or low fat, doesn’t mean you can eat loads of it. There is plenty of junk food that falls into that category.
12) Avoid buffets if possible – There was nothing that I loved more than an all you can eat buffet that promised me I could stuff my face to my hearts content. But it is so easy to eat way too much, as there is so much to try. If you go to a restaurant and order off the menu, you are less likely to overeat. If you do go to a buffet, here are my tips for staying in control whilst there.
13) Eat slowly – If you hoover your food down, you are not giving your body enough time to realise that you are full. Eat slowly and listen to your hunger signals.
Getting a better understanding on portion control can help so many people. I often get messages from people saying they are working out and eating all the right foods, but they are still not losing weight, so I tell them to check their portions. It doesn’t matter what you are eating, if you are eating more than your body needs, you might not be getting the results you want.