During the last week, two of my clients told me they’ve been struggling with their nutrition. Each felt like they weren’t seeing progress as quickly anymore and felt bad about themselves for the return of bad habits. I asked, “what do you think you struggle with the most?”
The answer? “Portions”.
So why is portion control important?
Too much of anything will make us gain weight. Even too many ‘healthy” options are still more than our bodies need. If we take in more calories than our bodies burn in a day, we will gain weight. If we take in the same amount of calories as we use in a day, we will maintain and of course, if we take in less calories than we burned today, we will lose weight over time.
How can I portion control easily?
Below are 10 Tips To Eating Healthy Portions
- The easiest way to eat the correct amount of food is to measure our foods or simply buy the containers from amazon here.
If you select the measure option, you’ll need your basic set of measuring cups and to read the servings sizes of the foods you eat. For example, your morning cereal, you’ll measure out 1/2 cup of cereal before you pour into your bowl.
This works well with meal-planners. Have everything measured and ready to go for a successful day ahead!
The containers are nice because they are color-coded and all you have to do in our cereal example from earlier is pour the cereal into the yellow container. As long as it fits in your container, you are good!
The containers also work perfectly for bringing snacks with you on the go. It’s storage and portion control in one!
2. Use Identifiers to Visualize Correct Portions
I’m a visual person and have a hard time knowing what 3oz is without thinking of something to compare it to.
So for example, your steak or chicken should be the palm of your hand. I’ve also heard your fist, so I’ll be flexible with you between the two.
Your salad should be two fists cupped together.
Fish should be the length of a checkbook.
Below is a guide for more ideas. I recommend printing this and placing it on your fridge or cabinet door.
3. Use less variety of flavors
Imagine you have a plate full of broccoli. Or you have a plate full of mixed vegetables, grains, chicken all covered in a rich sauce. Which would you eat more of?
We tend to eat until we are tired of a certain flavor. If you only have 1 or 2 flavors on your plate, you will say you are finished much sooner than if you had new flavors with every bite. This is the same logic behind why we can be full from our dinner but always have room for desert. It is a new flavor.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t season your food, I’m only warning you of the pitfalls we can fall into with too many choices or varieties.
4. Use color-contrast plates
If food blends in with our plates, we tend to under-estimate how much is there. For example, if I put pasta with Alfredo sauce on a white plate, it’s hard to determine how much is there – it blends in! In contrast, if I had spaghetti sauce with noodles on a white plate, the color contrast would help me to see that I had plenty of pasta and I would eat less.
5. Plate your food from the counter and immediately store left-overs.
Never bring the pan or pot of food to the table. Being able to see remaining food will tempt us to easily pour more on our plates. If you are still hungry after you’ve had your portions, having to get up and retrieve food from the fridge will require us to take an extra moment and review if we are truly hungry.
6. Never eat from the bag or box
It’s nearly impossible to know how much you are eating if you can’t see it. Pour food from the bag/box in to a bowl and eat from the bowl.
7. Don’t do anything else while eating. Watching tv, playing games or reading distracts us from what we are doing and we don’t feel ourselves becoming full. Studies show those who were distracted while they ate, ate more during the meal and felt hungry more quickly after.
8. Relax your body and calm your mind before and during a meal. So often we eat when we are upset which causes us to over-eat and eat the wrong foods. Deep calming breaths helps us to recognize if our body is truly hungry, slow down our eating and chose healthier foods.
9. Don’t skip meals. If we go too long without eating, our bodies become ravenous and we tend to make unhealthy choices, eating everything except the kitchen table. Keep healthy snacks on hand to eat between meals, warding off unhealthy temptations. Some of my favorite go-to snacks are:
Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Turkey and Whole-Grain Crackers
Apple and peanut butter
Celery and Carrots with Hummus
The idea is a protein rich snack that will keep you satisfied until your next meal.
10. Use a food log for a week.
I provide my clients with free access to a daily food log on our training app and recommend for the first week they track their food. Seeing how much you are eating, if you are eating the right amount of proteins, carbs and healthy fats and understanding the difference between calories in vs. calories out, is extremely helpful. Just one week of tracking will help you to have a baseline knowledge of what is right for you.
If you are interested in more nutrition insight, exercise programs or 1:1 online personal training, please check out FITonYourTime.com to begin your health and fitness journey! I’d love to get to know you and understand how I can help!
Have a healthy, happy and successful day,
Emily Langlois, CPT