How to lose weight through portion control? “Clean your plate.” Remember hearing that as you were growing up? Nowadays, you probably still eat everything on your plate, but, unfortunately, there is probably too much (or too much of the wrong types of) food on your plate. Over 50% of overweight people are habitual plate cleaners, and their standard food portion is simply whatever they see in front of them.
Between 1977 and 2000, portion sizes increased by at least 100 calories per portion. Adding 100 calories a day over the course of 1-year results in a gain of 36,500 calories, the equivalent of 10 pounds of body weight.
Many of us have a hard time controlling our food intake or figuring out what a serving size is, so we often end up drinking or eating whatever is in the container or on the plate. When you start to understand what constitutes a single portion or serving size (and making sure you stick to that portion size), you’ll have an easier time shedding those unwanted pounds!
Portion control is about eating consciously and making smarter choices that won’t set you up for weight loss failure. Here are the top three tips to help you take control of your portions:
- Buy only pre-portioned snacks. Controlling portion sizes of your favorite foods is difficult. How much do you usually eat of your favorite snack, ice cream, or cookies? Unfortunately, it may be the entire bag, package, or container. If you must have these high-calorie snacks in your diet, then buy only the smallest packaging available. Many of these foods are now available in 100 calorie packs: eat one and then stop.
- Use smaller plates and bowls. People eat with their eyes, not with their stomachs. Using smaller plates and bowls will make less food (smaller portions) look like more. According to the American Public Health Association, a two-inch reduction in plate size, from 12” to 10” results in 22% fewer calories, meaning that if a typical dinner plate holds 600-700 calories, a smaller plate could produce a weight loss of around 10-12 pounds per year for an average-sized adult.
- Use your hand or palm to measure portion sizes. This will ensure that you are eating portions relative to your own body size. Since you base your meal size comparatively to the size of your hand, men will more likely be eating a larger portion than that of women, and children, with tiny hands need even smaller portions. While this method is only an approximation, it helps you keep our portions at reasonable sizes.
- A serving of protein (meat, poultry, or fish) should be about the size of your palm.
- Your salad should be the size of both hands put together.
- Green vegetables should be the size of your fist.
- Starchy foods (potatoes) should be served in a portion smaller than your fist.
Bonus Tip! Prepare your plates in the kitchen, do not serve meals “family style.” Place one protein and one or two vegetables on your smaller plates and carry them to your dinner table.
The only additional foods on your table should be salads, additional vegetables, and water. When you use portion control correctly, it can lead to a calorie deficit, which will cause you to lose weight.