Recently I stumbled across a study from the University of North Carolina published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes have increased dramatically. Salty snacks increased by 93 calories, soft drinks by 49 calories, hamburgers by 97 calories, french fries by 68 calories and Mexican food by 133 calories. To put that in perspective, the added calories from a burger, fries and soft drink would equal an additional 214 calories each meal. 214 calories might not seem like a big deal, but if you do the math you realize that 214 calories extra every day equals an additional 22 lbs of bodyfat in 1 year!!!
That is pretty scary and makes you realize even more how much portion control is important. Here is a list of 21 tips for keeping your portions under control. Your waistline will thank you!
- Use smaller plates– If you use smaller plates you will be likely to serve yourself smaller portions.
- Don’t put serving bowls on the table– Fill your plate in the kitchen and immediately put the left overs away so you aren’t tempted to go back for seconds.
- Look at the food label– Check the number of portions on the label. You may not even realize you are eating a double serving of packed food.
- Break leftovers down– Instead of putting leftovers in one big container, break them down. Put them into single-serving portions so you eliminate the temptation for a larger serving later.
- Don’t eat straight out of the box or bag– Everyone has done it. You start snacking on a bag of chips and next thing you know they are almost gone. Set a portion out on a plate and walk away.
- Grocery shop after a meal– Don’t shop when you are hungry. You will be less likely to grab unhealthy options from the grocery store.
- Plan ahead– Stock your house with healthy food snacks that are easy to grab when you are in a hurry and you will be less likely to grab something that will add to your waistline.
- Log what you eat– Hold yourself accountable to what you eat. If you log your food you might shock yourself to find out how much you are eating. I talk to lots of people that didn’t realize how many additional calories they were eating during the day from grazing on snacks that were always laying around.
- Treat yourself with something other than food. You are not a dog. People naturally associate events and accomplishments with food. Instead of celebrating over a meal try treating yourself to a new outfit, get a massage or a manicure or go see a movie. Food doesn’t have to be the center of every celebration.
- When eating out- Choose items with a large portion of veggies. Order salad, steamed vegetables or fruit on the side instead of fries.
- When eating out- avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat specials.
- When eating out- Order a lunch or appetizer portion. Not only will it contain fewer calories but it will also save you a few bucks.
- When eating out- Share with a friend. (I don’t generally recommend this to 2 guys watching the football game at a sports bar. You might get a few funny looks.)
- When eating out- Ask for a to-go box as soon as you get your meal. Most restaurant portions contain way more calories than you need for one meal. Bring the leftover food home and you have tomorrow’s lunch already prepared.
- At work- Bring your own lunch. You get to control the portion control and know exactly what you are eating. I prefer to cook a big batch of food a couple times a week and use it for several days.
- At work- Keep healthy snacks at your desk. You won’t be near as likely to head over to the vending machine for chips or candy.
- At work- Plan ahead. If you plan on going out to eat with co-workers, look online at the restaurant’s menu and see what kind of healthy options they offer. Kind find the calories online? Check out www.calorieking.com.
- At work- Keep water at your desk. Filling up on water will help you feel fuller and cause you to eat less at mealtime.
- When at a party- Pre-eat. Before you leave for a party, eat your own healthy food at home. When you arrive at the party you can focus on socializing rather than heading straight to the buffet table. You can still enjoy sampling some of the food but you don’t have to worry about filling yourself up because you are starving.
- When at a party- Wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds. Sometimes, you go back for seconds before your food has a chance to digest. You may realize after the 20 minutes that you have already had enough.
- When at a party- Don’t hang out near the food table. It is way too easy to grab a snack if it is sitting right in front of you. If you’re not staring at the food, it helps to take your mind off it.
Size does matter when it comes to food portions. We live in a world filled with supersized options, all-you-can-eat buffets and extra large everything.