Updated: Oct 18
Appropriate portion size is one of the main ingredients in having a balanced relationship with food. Over time, our portion sizes have grown exponentially, and so have our health issues as a nation. What used to be a typical portion size when eating out is now considered a kids meal -- but with some practice, getting your portion sizes in check is simple and rewarding.
There are a few tricks I like to use to make sure I'm not going overboard on portion sizes -- I especially keep these in mind during the holiday season when we're indulging a bit more. These tips don't restrict what you eat but help you stay mindful about how you're eating.
Serve yourself on smaller plates
One of the quickest ways to cut your portions down is to change your plating. I regularly use a salad plate as my main plate for meals -- and filling a salad plate is more along the lines of a healthy portion. This also tricks your eyes, since you're filling the whole smaller plate instead of using a large dinner plate and leaving a good bit of white space.
Know which foods get more real estate on your plate
In addition to eating larger portions than we should in general, we're often allocating more space for the wrong things. Your vegetables or salad ideally will take up half your plate. Your protein of choice can allocate for a quarter of your plate, and any complex carbs can fill the other quarter.
While eating whole, fresh foods is always best, there are times when we use sauces, dressings, and pantry staples to prepare our meals. If you make a habit of reading the labels, you'll know how much is in each serving to avoid those serving-size traps. I like to stay mindful of this when using packaged items to supplement my meals.
Don't forget to stay mindful when you dine out
It's nice to get takeout sometimes or go out to dinner with people you adore. However, the meals you get in restaurants tend to be double the size or even more than a reasonable portion. You have a few options here. If you're ordering takeout for yourself, ask the restaurant to split the portion and enjoy the rest the next day. You can also split an entrée with someone else, or order an appetizer and small salad as your meal. For me personally, I find that picking a delicious appetizer with a small side salad does the trick perfectly.
The Hand Method for Portion Control
When cooking to prepare a balanced meal memorize the hand method.
One serving of...
Protein = Size of your Palm
Carbs = Size of your Fist
Fats = Size of your Thumb
Your hands are the perfect measuring tool and you will never be caught short again.
If you still feel hungry after eating, make sure you're keeping your hydration and sleep in check. These are other reasons why we tend to overeat. When you look for ways to keep portions to their true sizes and eat the right kinds of foods, you will start seeing the results you've been working towards. Other reasons leading to overeating is stress and boredom. If you are interested you can check out our replay of our Mindful Eating Workshop: An Introduction to Overcoming Stress Eating