Here in the US, everything is supersized. From the cars that are on the road to the food that is served at restaurants, people tend to go big or go home! It is important to be aware that our reality is being skewed and serving sizes have gotten way out of control. A quick way to lose a few pounds, guaranteed, is to check your serving sizes. I would bet that they are bigger than ever and you are stashing extra calories that you didn’t even realize. So in this “supersized world” that we live in, how do we control our portions and succeed in eating less and losing more? Here are a few pointers to help you control your portions. These few tips have helped me and I hope they help you, too…
1. Purchase a Food Scale! Scales are a great idea when you are learning what a typical serving size is. Do you know what 4 ounces looks like? While I would suggest using a food scale, I would not get stuck on using a scale for life, that just isn’t very realistic, is it?! Are you really going to pull out a food scale at every meal or bring it with you to a guest’s house, pull it out of your purse and ask something to be weighed? I bet not! This isn’t very realistic, but after a month or so, you should be able to eyeball it and see what a portion is without using the scale. Keep in mind, it is smart to learn how to control your food, so you make sure you are not only not getting too much but that you are getting enough!
2. Measure Your Food In The Palm of Your Hand. You can use visuals as measuring tools, once you conquer the scale. A good rule of thumb is that 4 ounces (one serving) is the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A tablespoon is the size of a golf ball and a half cup of grains is the size of a tennis ball.
3. When you order out… Decide To Take Home Half Your Meal.Most restaurants serve large portions, as we all know, hence Cheesecake Factory, an American favorite! If you are ordering directly off the menu, I suggest you separate about half and immediately set it aside to take it home for another meal. A better option is to modify the menu so you immediately shed 50 percent of the calories. By ordering a green salad and/or veggies with a lean protein, all steamed or grilled with no butter and dressings on the side, allows you to eat the full portion completely guilt free.
On another note, eat before you go out, pull up the menu online and know what you are going to order and how you are going to modify your meal before you get there. Finally, eat before you head out so you are not as hungry and are less likely to devour your meal. Have a shake before you walk out the door. Sounds funny to eat before you go out to eat but think about it… By the time you get there, get your table, (wait 2 hours, if you go to Cheesecake Factory or most places these days), order your food, etc., it has been your 2.5-3 hour mark and it is meal time, once again! Sounds funny and may look funny to anyone not following a program, but it makes perfect sense to me. How many times have you gone out to eat, starving, and everything on the menu looks good. You either give in to your craving or dig into the bread or chips in front of you. Better to be safe than sorry!
4. Prepare Your Own Meals. Headed out for work or running errands, be sure to have all your meals prepared in advance, packed in your cooler and ready to eat every 2.5-3 hours! Whenever possible, pack your own meals for the day. This helps avoid having to eat out and to know that you are eating the proper portions. Having meals with you also keeps you from going too long without eating and therefore wanting to eat everything in sight when you do get your hands on food. You must always have to plan for the worst! What if you are stuck in traffic or something comes up and you aren’t going to be home in time to eat and you are out of meals/snacks?? There is nothing worse than being hungry, trust me! Better to be safe and have food with you at all times! I keep individual servings of protein powder in my glove compartment for those emergencies when I do not have food with me.
5. Pack Meals In Smaller Containers. The larger the container, the larger the portion. Instead of one large container or large bag, use a few small ones to pack your meals. Almonds are a great snack, but best to have them pre-packaged in a Ziploc than bringing the entire bag. If you are like me, it is hard to open a large container or bag and only eat one serving. Better to pack your meals separately than all together. Some of you may have that control, but not everyone can do that. The food we learn to prepare is just too yummy. I envy those who can eat just one serving. If you are one, how do you do that?
6. Trick Yourself and Make Smaller Bite-Sized Portions. Make smaller bite-sized portions and/or cut your food into tiny pieces. When I make my protein pancakes or muffins, I always make as many small ones as possible rather than one giant one. I don’t know what it is, but the more we have, the more we feel like we are eating. Make two servings of batter for your muffins, bake one big one and then with the other serving, get a mini muffin tin and make six tiny “mini-muffins” and tell me which you prefer and which makes you feel like you are eating more?! Trick yourself!
7. Eat With Smaller Utensils. Revert back to your baby days and eat with a tiny spoon. I love my baby spoon. I use this to eat my oatmeal, protein shakes and anything you use a spoon for. The more bites you get, the more food it feels like you are eating. I also love my chop sticks. They are harder to eat with and therefore forces you to eat slower and feel like you are eating more food than you actually are. Oh, the small things in life that work… Give it a try!
8. Avoid Eating Seconds Unless They Are Green. If you feel hungry after eating your meal, take some time before deciding on whether to eat another portion. Often the sensation to eat again will disappear shortly after eating. It takes time for you to digest your food and for your brain to acknowledge you are full. If you are still hungry, go for the greens! Veggies are a must and can’t hurt you! If you still feel hungry, go for the green veggies and then seconds are OK!
9. Share Half Your Meal With a Friend. If you are eating with someone, split a meal. You can share an appetizer and an entrée with a friend and satisfy your hunger without over-eating.
10. Drink Water! Thirst can be disguised as hunger, so make sure you are incorporating lots of water in your day. When working out, make sure to drink water before, during and after your sessions. Often we think we are hungry, but we are dehydrated! Be sure to understand the difference. Be aware that most spices and condiments have sodium in them, so this can easily cause you to be thirsty and dehydrated. Drink plenty of water. If water gets old, drink tea or add lemon, lime or fruit slices to your water!
11. Veggies Are Your Friend. Eat plenty of veggies. On my plans, veggies are unlimited! I eat tons of veggies… you have no idea. Veggies keep you full, satisfied and are less likely to overfill your tummy with danger. The high fiber content also revs up your metabolism, which allows you to burn calories! Fill your plate with tons of veggies and add your proper portion of protein and carbs. If you feel you need more, once again, go for more veggies!