With special occasions happening year-round, we know people are searching the internet for portion control tips that can help make eating a little less stressful. Take Thanksgiving, for example, with its juicy turkey, hearty stuffings, and fruity desserts. Portion control on Thanksgiving can seem impossible, even when we are trying to actually savor our meals.
Fortunately, following certain portion control tips can help keep you from overeating both during the holidays and during your day-today life. Check out our portion control guide for some of our top tips for portion control.
Does portion control really work?
Yes. If done correctly, portion control can help facilitate healthy eating habits and may result in weight loss. Exactly how does portion control work, though?
A portion is the amount of one type of food that is found on your plate. Portions are not measured; there is no scientific way of differentiating between a “large portion” or a “small portion.” In other words, portions are different from serving sizes, which are measurable.
If you can’t measure your portions, then how can they be useful? Portions can provide a guide for healthy eating in terms of helping you keep in mind how much of one thing you’re eating compared to something else.
For example, getting full off a large portion of vegetables, a medium portion of chicken, and a small portion of chocolate is going to leave you feeling healthier than if you got full off of a large portion of chocolate, a medium portion of chicken, and one carrot.
Of course, portion control doesn’t necessarily mean you eat less food. It just helps you keep track of what types of food you are eating more of. In other words, it’s a way of keeping track of what you eat a lot of relative to what you eat less of. Since relativity can have its pitfalls when it comes to eating, it’s useful to have other portion control tips at the ready to help out along the way.
Methods of portion control
When reading these tips, keep in mind that every body is different and we all require different amounts of calories to stay healthy. You know what is best for your body, so be aware of how you’re feeling before, during, and after a meal.
1. Use your plate as a portion guide
At the top of our list of portion control tips is using your plate as a way to help you make better portion choices. Think of your plate as a pie chart. What percentage should you apportion to veggies? What percentage should you dedicate to carbs? Research what portions you should prioritize based on your lifestyle and then apply that knowledge to how you load up your plate at celebrations.
2. Use smaller dishes and silverware
If you overeat regularly, then opting to eat smaller portions than you do typically may help keep you from maxing out your stomach real estate during your meal. But, How do I train myself to eat smaller portions? you ask. Well, if you’re using your plate as your portion guide (as per portion control tip #1) one way to make sure that you are eating smaller portions over all is to use a smaller plate in the first place!
Not only that, but eating from a smaller plate can help trick your brain into thinking you’re full. Studies have shown that individuals who eat a full plate of food — even if their plate is smaller — feel more full than those who only fill their plate up halfway.
Meanwhile, smaller utensils help you eat more slowly, which gives your body more time to send you “I’m full” signals and helps prevent overeating.
3. Drink water before your meal
While not strictly a portion control tip, drinking water before your meal helps fill up your stomach long before you start craving your dessert.
4. Fill your plate with veggies first
Start practicing portion control methods by going in on the good stuff from the start: vegetables. Having your plate already occupied with some nutritious veggies can help avoid piling on the unhealthy foods. It’s also a better guarantee you’ll actually make healthy choices and eat those vegetables and create more balance in your diet.
5. Eat slowly
Next up on our list of portion control tips is the tried and true method of eating slowly. As we mentioned earlier, your body sends you signals that you’re full. Unlike so much else our body does, however, it can take a while for your body to tell you that you’re full (between 20 and 30 minutes, to be precise). I
If you’re eating quickly, you’re more likely to eat past your fill before your body can tell you that it doesn’t need any more nourishment at the moment. In other words, you can have a plate portioned out perfectly and still wind up overeating if you don’t take things slowly.
Of course, eating slowly is easier than it sounds. People have had success with the following methods:
- Putting their utensils down between bites
- Identifying the slowest eater at the table and keeping pace with them
- Focusing fully on the eating experience (instead of watching TV while you eat)
- Using your non-dominant hand to eat
6. Include more protein and vegetables
It takes your body longer to break down protein and the complex carbohydrates in vegetables, which means that you’ll feel more full for longer. In other words, filling your plate with more fruits and vegetables will not only help you eat more healthy foods, it will keep you from wanting to raid the fridge over and over again as the day wears on.
7. Eat throughout the day
We know this sounds counterproductive, but depriving your body of food before a big meal like Thanksgiving dinner will make you overly hungry, which can cause you to eat more than you realize and get full quicker. Being overly hungry can also lead to you wanting more sugary foods to make up for a depletion in energy. But eating that chocolate bar to make up for a lack of energy can lead vicious cycling between a sugar overload and a sugar crash. So, don’t skip out on breakfast, lunch, or snacks before heading to that holiday dinner.
8. Wait before getting seconds
The last but not the least important of our portion control tips: waiting before heading back for seconds. Getting seconds can feel like second nature. Pair that with eating large portions at a fast pace and you have a recipe for indigestion, heartburn, and severe discomfort. Mindful eating is a great solution.
Take a little of each dish, finish it, and wait around 10 minutes before going back for more. Waiting between trips to the kitchen counter will not only allow you to taste and savor everything you’ve put on your plate, but also digest what you’ve eaten so you’re not piling up the plate with seconds.
How do I stop eating a lot on Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.?
With big family gatherings like Thanksgiving and other winter holidays that are centered around food, it can be very easy to get greedy with your grub. The key to successful, healthy eating over the holidays is to set up good habits beforehand. Follow the portion control tips we’ve outlined and you’ll be less likely to overindulge when the holidays roll around.
But if you do happen to overeat during a holiday meal or two, do your best to not beat yourself up. Healthy eating and a healthy attitude go hand-in-hand; when you’re harsh with yourself for eating too much every once in a while, it tends to lead to counterproductive behavior.
Complete Care: We’re here for you during the holidays
Portion control tips can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, portion control on Thanksgiving or Christmas is just one small piece of the puzzle; maintaining healthy practices requires daily diligence.
At Complete Care, we want to support the health of our community in every way possible, which is why we wanted to take the time to share these tips with you. On a day-to-day basis, however, it’s our job to take care of our community when the worst happens.
When you’re dealing with more than just a full stomach over the holidays, Complete Care is here for your emergency needs. Our state-of-the-art stand alone ER facilities are open 24/7 and can provide patients with the same level of care of your standard ERs, but without the wait time.
We are located in most major Texas cities and Colorado Springs. Simply visit your “emergency room near me” and walk in for excellent care.