How to eat less; tips for portion control at home and the office

How to eat less; tips for portion control at home and the office

Tips for portion control at home and the office

Use smaller plates and glasses

Swap out your dinner plates for salad plates

  • Dinner plates are generally 10 – 10 ¾ inches in diameter
  • Salad plates are generally 7 ¼ – 7 ½ inches in diameter

Swap out your tumblers for juice glasses

  • Tumblers are generally 12-16 ounces (oz.)
  • Juice glass are generally 5-7 oz.

By using smaller plates and glasses, you can easily limit your portions, while visually still eating from a full plate and drinking from a full glass.

Keep a food journal

Record what you eat throughout the day. If you know you’ll have to record what you eat, you might choose to skip that candy bar, bag of chips, margarita, or second helping of food or dessert.

Keeping a food journal is a great way to hold yourself accountable for what you put in your mouth. It’s also one of 10 ways adults have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off!

Stop eating out of bags, boxes, and other large containers

Portion out your food from large containers into small containers. For example, divide a box of cereal or bag of chips up into small, single serving packets using reusable snack bags or small plastic containers. Better yet, purchase the snack size or single serving packet of food (chips, cookies, etc.) to start with. It won’t be as cost effective but you might spare yourself the feeling of guilt after consuming a larger bag of chips.

Think about how easy it is to eat a box of cereal or bag of chips in one or two sittings. An 11 oz. bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese flavored chips has 1540 calories! Calories in chips

Portion out your food ahead of time. For example, take out the five crackers or 10 chips you plan to eat as a snack and put them on a plate. Seal up the box or bag, put it back in the pantry and close the pantry door. Then sit down at a table to enjoy your snack.

Eat at a table

Limit your eating to a table: a cafeteria table, kitchen table, or dining room table. If you’re eating somewhere else (couch, bed, standing in the kitchen, etc.), chances are you’re multitasking. You might be reading, watching TV, or checking email which makes it hard to pay attention to your hunger and how much you’re eating.

You might also be eating for reasons other than hunger. If you’re standing in the kitchen eating, you might be eating out of boredom or stress or just because you’re craving something you know is in the kitchen pantry.

Eat without distraction

Limit any unnecessary distractions that you have control over while you eat. This will help you eat with awareness. Focus on the taste, texture, and smell of your food, how much you’re eating, and your level of hunger.

Distractions might include:

  • TV
  • Computer
  • Video game
  • Smart phone
  • Reading material, etc.

Keep tempting food out of sight

Keep tempting food out of sight; keep healthy food in sight. If you know you’re likely to overeat a particular food, keep it out of sight. Keep it off the counter, off your desk, or better yet out of your house or office. It’s easier to practice portion control when you favorite food or dessert isn’t “staring you in the face”.

Make seconds inconvenient

When it comes to family meals (or any meal), keep the pots, pans, and serving dishes away from the dining table. Serve yourself and then put any leftover food away before you sit down to eat your dinner.

The more inconvenient you make it to go back for a second helping, the less likely you are to do it. Top 5 rules for a healthy dinner plate

Use a hunger scale

Pay attention to (and honor) the cues your body gives when it’s hungry and when it’s full. Practice this by using a 1-10 scale to rate your level of hunger before, during, and after a meal.

If you eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel content (not full or stuffed), you can start to limit overeating while still enjoying your food.

Slow down

Slow down your eating so you have a chance to realize you’re full before it’s too late. Here are a few tricks to slow down your eating:

  • Set your spoon or fork down between each bite of food.
  • Take small bites of food and chew each piece a certain number of times (example: 10 times) before swallowing.
  • Eat with the opposite hand.
  • Other tricks

Don’t skip meals

If you skip meals or wait too long to eat, you’re likely to reach the point where anything and everything sounds good. When you’re extremely hungry, it becomes hard to make healthy choices and use portion control.

Healthy snacks can help keep you satisfied in between meals and prevent a hunger-related binge.

A healthy snack before you commute home from work can help prevent the extreme hunger that leads to pulling through the drive-thru on the way home or grabbing the first thing you see when you walk through the door.

Learn the facts

Research the nutrition facts for the foods you commonly overeat. If you realize that you routinely eat 800 calories worth of chips in one sitting (and you estimated it to be 400 calories) this might be enough motivation to limit the number of chips you eat. How to read a food label

Stop justifying your eating

Take away your excuses for overeating to help limit your overeating. Stop justifying eating for any of the following reasons:

  • “But it’s low fat.” (Is low fat food good for you?)
  • “I have to get my money’s worth.”
  • “I’m on vacation.”
  • “I don’t want the food to go to waste.”
  • “I don’t want to hurt his/her (the cook’s or baker’s) feelings.”
  • “There are starving children in Africa.”
  • “I had a rough week. I deserve it.”
  • “My friends (or family) are in town.”

Eat fiber-rich food

Eat foods that contain fiber.

A meal or snack high in fiber can help you stay full for a longer period of time compared to a meal low in fiber. How much fiber do I need in a day?


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Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...