Portion control is one of the top challenges my clients face, even with healthy foods! It can be a barrier to sustainable weight loss once the “diet” you’re on wears off, as well as being the root cause of persistent gut issues (particularly when we’re overeating refined foods often). Here’s how to kick that habit and build a healthy new one that respects your body’s limits.
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Eat more slowly
- Put your fork down halfway through your plate and take a 2 minute time out.
- 10 deep breaths before your meal to slow your nervous system down and transition to eating mode from doing mode.
- Chew more thoroughly! This one is also great for digestion issues like bloating.
Savour the flavour
A piece of hunger is linked to our enjoyment of food and being able to light up the pleasure centres in our brain. Make sure as often as possible you’re slowing down enough to really notice the taste and texture of your food. Feel the crunch of those snap peas and sweetness in those berries on your oatmeal.
Re-tune your fullness cue
Your fullness cue from your brain is a key piece of portion control and can be “re-tuned” to tell you more clearly and earlier with a bit of practice and mindfulness. Spend a few days eating normally but rating how full you are after a meal from 0-10 (see video). Then use some of the strategies above to slow down and try and stop around a 6-7 (satisfied vs stuffed). Over time, the mindfulness will change how your brain responds even if you don’t nail it every time.
Manage your environment
- While you’re working on portion control, keep triggering foods out of sight or out of the house (with the goal of bringing them back when you’re ready and have practiced on less triggering foods).
- Pack up the rest of the meal into a leftover container before sitting down to keep from picking while plating or cleaning up.
- Buy smaller bags – skip Costco size snacks and buy a single serving when you’re craving it whenever possible. You’re likely eating more than you think and the constant temptation wears out our self control muscle.
- Read, play on your phone, or go enjoy another activity somewhere in the house if a partner or roommate is munching on something you find tempting but doesn’t feel good to eat.
Learning natural portion control takes time, so be patient with yourself through the ups and downs. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you don’t need to master healthy eating all at once. I would love to know if you’ve tried any of these tools and how it went! Send me an email here and let me know, I read each and every email you send.
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