When making changes to your diet, it is important to look at the amount of food you are eating. Many of us are so accustomed to the large portion sizes served both at home and when dining out. Better control of your portions doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some simple visuals and tips that can help ensure you are not eating too much.
Find out how much you’re eating with a visual
Simple objects can help to figure out how much of a food you have on your plate. Use the table below to gain a better understanding of what some common portion sizes look like1:
Avoid eating straight out of the container
Remove the portion you'd like to eat from a box or bag of food. This way, you won’t want to continue picking at your snack or food item after you’ve already had your portion. You can even try pre-portioning out single servings of food into smaller containers. If you find yourself in a pinch, your portioned foods will be ready to go!
Serve foods in the kitchen instead of at the table
You can decrease the temptation to take extra servings if the dish holding more food is in a different room. If you are still hungry after you’ve finished your plate, go for the vegetables or salad rather than meat or grains. And, if you’re at a party or buffet where this isn’t an option, seat yourself far away from the food and use a smaller plate (such as a salad plate) rather than a larger main course plate.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is a proven way to follow healthier eating habits and stick to healthier portion sizes.2 This means paying attention to what you’re eating and eliminating distractions. Consider putting your fork down and notice the different colors, smells, sounds, textures and flavors in your foods.3 Turn off the TV during meals and make the dinner table a ‘no-phone-zone’.’ Take the time to pause, taste and enjoy your food. It can help you feel satisfied and gain control.
What about dining out?
Many restaurants offer meals that are much larger than the recommended portion size for an individual. You can have more control over how much you are getting on your plate at these times by splitting a meal with a friend. Or, order a to-go box with your meal and put half the meal away before you start eating.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2018) Serving Size vs Portion Size Is There a Difference. Retrieved from https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/serving-size-vs-portion-size-is-there-a-difference
- Pintado-Cucarella S, Rodriguez-Salgado P. (2016) Journal of Behavior, Health & Social Issues. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbhsi.2016.11.003
- Bjarnadottir, A. (2019) Mindful Eating 101 - A Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide