With the recent rise in number of people who are becoming more health conscious, it seems as though this task is simultaneously becoming more difficult.
Granted, many brands and restaurants are offering “healthier” options, but one of the largest problems for our waistlines and health still persists…the size of our meals.
Our collective idea of what is a “normal” portion is getting to be larger each year…it’s nearly impossible to dine out where the meal served is actually one serving, or to find an individually wrapped snack that is truly for only one individual. However, bigger is not always better when it comes to our meals and our health.
As such, below are five pointers to help increase your awareness of how much you’re eating and tune you into portion control. Enjoy…in moderation, of course.
1.Drink Plenty of Water
Oftentimes people mistake thirst for hunger. While it’s crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day, drinking an 8-16 ounce glass of water before each meal can help you feel full, and therefore, consume less.
If you’re looking for more flavor, soup can also do the trick! Studies have proven that consuming soup before meals can reduce the amount of calories consumed at that meal. Make sure to opt for broth-based soups full of veggies!
2. Keep the Bag in the Pantry
We’ve most likely all done it at some point…sat down with a bag of chips or tub of ice cream, and next thing we know…it’s empty! Even those with the strongest of will-power are more likely to overeat if they eat straight out of the container. Despite telling ourselves “one more bite,” that one bite can easily turn into 10 or 20!
To avoid this, you can buy many items pre-portioned, but these are usually more expensive (and require thorough label checking to see how many servings it actually is). Another tip is to pre-portion your food so that you know how much you’re eating and won’t be as tempted to eat more. To make things more convenient, designate a day of the week where you portion out snacks and meals so that during the busier days you have them readily available!
3. Downsize Your Dishes
Many of us were taught to eat everything on our plate (that is, if we wanted dessert). While this strategy is good for stubborn toddlers, our brains are now wired this way…and unfortunately our plates are holding more food than we really need. The solution? Use smaller plates.
The larger the plate, the more food we’re likely to pile on (and consequently eat). Studies convey that when smaller dishes and utensils are used, less food is served and consumed. Also, it’s been shown that less food is consumed when the color of the dishes contrast in color to the food being served, as it makes the meal more satisfying. Fill plates with veggies and lean proteins, then add a dash of whole grains.
4. Don’t Keep Meals on the Table
Keep the bowl or pan that meals are made in off the dinner table. If food is in front of you, it’s easy to grab more right when the plate is empty without even stopping to assess whether you’re still hungry or not. Before you get up for “seconds,” wait a little, as you may actually be full after the first helping!
Similarly, when you dine out, the meal you order most likely is actually 2-4 servings. Even after we’re full, if our plates with food remain in front of us, we’re more apt to keep eating. Therefore, when ordering, ask to have half of your meal boxed up and brought out with the check…and you can enjoy your leftovers later! Also, try to stick to meals that are steamed or grilled as opposed to saucy or fried.
5. Slow Down and Focus on Your Food
Focus on your food (and company if you’re eating with others). Don’t allow distractions like television, phones, or computers during mealtime. These types of distractions take our attention away from our food and we’re more likely to mindlessly eat more than we realize.
Dim the lights and turn on relaxing music to help wind down and prepare your digestive tract for a healthy meal. Don’t scarf down food quickly…take the time to chew and enjoy the smells, tastes, and textures. Slowing down and enjoying the experience of eating will help us appreciate the food itself and also know when to stop.
The Bottom Line
While factors like hormones and exercise are important, maintaining a healthy weight is all about portion control, balance, and moderation. Start incorporating these five pointers daily for a new, healthier you.
Take charge of your health!
Health and Wellness News
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