No matter how many times you step on the elliptical and outshine your friends in the Fitbit weekly challenge, you won’t lose those extra pounds if your portion sizes are out of control.
Research shows that food portions in restaurants and in households have doubled, and in some cases, even tripled over the last three decades. So, if you’re not remaining conscious about what you’re eating and how much you’re eating, you may find yourself struggling to put on your favorite pair of jeans.
While controlling your portions may seem like a tough feat, it’s by no means impossible. To start you off, here are five tips that will help you keep your portion sizes under control.
1. Pay Attention to Food Labels
First things first, learn the proper daily serving sizes as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, since keeping your portions under control should start with you understanding what a healthy portion would look like to begin with. From there, always be sure to read food labels carefully to see what a single serving of different foods consists of. Be sure to note not only the calorie, but the fat, protein, carb, and sugar content of each food. Then compare those numbers to daily recommendations to help you make sure you’re keeping things where they need to be.
2. Drink Water Before Diving into Your Meal
There are times when you’re probably so hungry that you feel like you could eat a whole cow. But when you let yourself get to that point, you run the risk of overdoing it with your meal when you finally get around to eating. Solve the problem by suppressing your appetite with a glass or two of water before you eat. This will fill your stomach with water and reduce the temptation to overeat. Plus, the water will help you feel fuller faster by shrinking your belly capacity.
3. Share Those Enormous Serving Sizes
The food portions that you find in restaurants usually exceed USDA recommendations. And the worst part is that the portion sizes continue to get bigger – along with the price tag of your meals, no less. Do your body (and your wallet) a favor and share with a friend next time you decide to eat out. Sharing some of your food now will make it easier for you to shed some of those pounds later. Not sure that a single dish will be quite enough for both of you to share? Try getting to meals – one indulgent, and one healthier – and splitting both to make sure that neither of you are eating a full plate of something that’s not best for your waistline.
4. Add More Fiber Filling Foods to Your Meal
If you find yourself thinking about food every hour or constantly staring at the clock waiting on your next meal, that’s a sign that you need more fiber in your diet. Meals that include more fiber are digested more slowly and can help you feel full longer, even on fewer calories. Add more whole grain foods, granola bars, fresh fruit, and beans to your grocery list to increase your fiber intake and help you keep your eating under control when meal time does come around.
5. Understand Proper Portion Sizes
Start using your measuring cup or food scale to measure how much of each ingredient you are including in your food. If you don’t have the luxury of doing this, just eyeball and estimate the proper portion size. Researchers recommend that proteins (meat, beans, fish, eggs) should be a palm-sized serving, vegetables (spinach, carrots, broccoli) should be an open handful, and carbohydrates (fruits, grains, starches) should be the size of your fist. After a while, you’ll find yourself growing used to what a healthy serving looks like.