29 Tips for Keeping Portions
Under Control By Debra Pivko
From Team Beachbody - Click here for resources, tools and
information to help you to reach your health, fitness and positive lifestyle
When it comes to food portions, size
matters. In a world filled with "supersized" options, all-you-can-eat buffets,
and extra-large pizzas, it's no wonder people overeat. Have you ever found
yourself in one of these situations?
- Eating snacks straight out of the
bag while watching television, or even grabbing a second bag to munch on
because your show is still on.
- Continuing to finish your food at a
restaurant because others are still eating, even though you're full.
- Arriving at a party starving, so
your dinner consists of fried appetizers and mayo-laden salads.
- Eating an entire packaged item only
to realize later that it actually contained multiple servings.
Once in a while is okay, but doing this too
often can supersize your waistline and your risk for medical
complications, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. With just a little
bit of preparation and planning, you can keep your eating habits and your
portion sizes under control.
- Doggie-bag it.
Don't finish your food just because it's thereor
because you're still at the restaurant waiting for others to finish. Most
restaurant portions contain more food and calories than you need for one meal.
Bring your leftover food home, or allow the busboy to take it away early. Even
better, have the server pack half of it to go before bringing it to you. It
seems like an odd request, but it's not uncommon these days.
- Share with a friend.
When you split a meal, not only do you cut the price in
half, but you cut the calories in half too!
- Order the lunch or
appetizer portion. Lunch and appetizer portions are
cheaper and contain fewer calories than full-sized portions.
- Avoid buffets and
all-you-can-eat specials. If you're like me, you want to
try everything when you go to a buffet. That's why it's better to
avoid buffets when you're trying to control the size of your portions. When you
have no choice about where you go (like a large family gathering or party),
find the smallest plate and fill it up with the healthy stuff like grilled
chicken and vegetables first. If you must go back for more, allow yourself one
trip. And only get what you really want. It's such a common habit to take a bit
of everything, but if you can savor one reasonably sized serving of your
favorite item, you'll enjoy it a lot more.
- Choose items with
large portions of veggies. Or order salad or fruit on the
side instead of fries. If you're starving, you can fill up on high-nutrient,
low-calorie food to keep full.
- Eat your
favorite "indulgence" foods every now and again. Totally
denying yourself the foods you take pleasure in is a surefire way to set
yourself up for failure. So go ahead and treat yourself once in a while to
avoid feeling deprived. But eat a smaller portion, and savor every bite.
- Hang up fridge
visuals. Don't swing the fridge door open mindlessly.
Think before you eat. Hang up a picture of how you once looked, that one piece
of clothing you wish you could fit into, someone who you want to look like, or
even someone you don't want to look like. Take a moment to think about what
you're really hungry for and about your weight loss/health goals before you
grab something out of the fridge. I've gone as far as putting up a "closed
after 9 PM" sign on mine, since I can't seem to find a fridge lock with a
- Preplan your groceries. Don't shop when you're
hungry and you'll be less likely to bring unhealthy food home. Stock your house
with healthy foods and snacks that are easy to grab when you're hungry, such as
fruit, cut-up vegetables with hummus, or light cheese and crackers. You can
also purchase single-serving snacks. I love The Skinny Cow® ice
cream sandwiches (mint chocolate is my favorite.) They're less than 150
calories and are preportioned so I know when I'm finished.
- Don't eat straight out
of the box or bag. If you do this, odds are you'll finish
everything in itor at least eat more than one serving. Instead, fill a
small container or baggie with a single serving and leave the rest in the
- Break leftovers down.
Instead of putting leftovers in one big container, break
them down into single-serving meals or snack-sized portions before storing
- Hang wall mirrors.
We tend not to eat as much when we see ourselves.
- Use smaller plates.
If you can't fit as much food on the plate, you're likely
to eat a smaller portion. Even better, use nonmicrowavable plates so you can't
heat up secondslay down a sheet of wrinkled-up foil, or use one of
Grandma's metal-glazed dishes; both are considered unsafe for microwave use by
- Don't put serving
bowls of food on the table. Fill your plate in the kitchen
and put your leftovers away promptly after they cool so it's too much of an
effort to go back to the kitchen to get seconds.
- Look at the serving
size listed on the package. You may not realize you're
actually dishing out a double serving of packaged food for yourself. Make sure
you look at the nutrition label so you aren't overeating without even knowing
- BYOL (bring
your own lunch). When you make your own lunch, you get to
control the portion and exactly what's in it. Cook a big batch of food on
Sunday, like pasta and veggies or chicken and brown rice, then refrigerate or
freeze portions to take with you.
- Keep healthy snacks at
your desk. When you have healthy snacks at your desk, you
won't be as tempted to head over to the vending machine for candy or chips. I
love Pirate's Booty® Aged White Cheddar baked corn and rice
puffs at 130 calories per serving, or Kashi® TLC Honey Sesame
snack crackers. Make sure to divide them into single portions in baggies so you
don't overeat. And keep them tucked away in a drawer rather than on top of the
desk in plain sight.
- Keep protein bars
handy. Protein bars can be a lifesaver when you don't have
time to run out to get food, or a meeting postpones your lunch for a couple of
hours. Watch out for bars that only have a few grams of protein and seem and
taste more like candy bars than meal replacements.
Peak Performance Protein Bars are jam-packed with 20 grams of protein. My
favorite flavor is Chocolate Fudge. They save my stomach from growling louder
than the speaker in meetings and can replace a meal in an
- Research healthy lunch
places near work. A few minutes of research can save you
calories in the long run. Some places have light menu options with smaller
portions that contain fewer calories. Plus you can look up the nutrition
information for many popular restaurants online even if they're not posted on
the menu. And, of course, remember to avoid those all-you-can-eat specials.
- Stock up on
Shakeology® single-serving packets. I
actually set reminders in my email calendar for 3:30 each day so I remember to
have a Shakeology shake as my afternoon snack. It keeps me from raiding the
fridge like a maniac when I get home for dinner.
single-serving packets not only contain protein and fiber that help you
feel full, but also whole food ingredients to nourish your bodyall with only
140 calories a serving. I know that whether or not I eat healthily throughout
the day, as long as I have my Shakeology, I'll be getting all the nutrients I
need, and I'll feel full so I won't overeat.
- Drink teaand lots of water.
If you're filling up on zero-calorie water and tea, you'll
feel fuller and eat less when it's mealtime.
- Log what you eat.
Hold yourself accountable for what you eat. If you're a
Team Beachbody® member, you can track your meals for free at
track your meals here or keep a notepad handy if you're not near a
computer. Keeping track of everything you eat will help you take a closer look
at your eating habits so you can make better choices.
- Don't always have your
cake and eat it too. There are about 300 people who work
with me. If I ate cake every time there was a birthday, I'd have it almost
daily. (Fortunately, Beachbody® discourages people from bringing
sweets to the office.) It's okay to treat yourself to some cake occasionally,
but don't always eat it just because it's there. Make sure that when
you do choose to indulge, you stick to your nutritious meal plan for the rest
of the day, and just augment it with a small slice of cake.
- Bring healthy snacks
to meetings. If you're hosting a meeting, instead of the
usual donuts and pastries, provide fruit, veggies, hummus, cheese, and wheat
crackers. If you're not in charge of food-planning for meetings, break room, or
vending machines, request that healthy food alternatives be made available at
your office. After all, a sugar crash thirty minutes after the morning meeting
isn't going to boost anybody's productivity.
- Pre-eat. Before you leave home for a party, eat your own healthy,
nutritious food. When you arrive at the party, you can focus on the people and
the festivities instead of making a beeline for the buffet table. You can still
enjoy tasting the appetizers, but you'll be satisfied with less.
- Be a healthy host.
Hosting a party? Serve healthy food. Your guests will
thank youplus you'll probably burn a ton of calories running around
- Wait 20 minutes before
going back for seconds. Sometimes, especially at
extravagant parties, there's an endless variety of delectable food you'd never
make or buy for yourself. Make sure you sit down with your first plate and eat
slowly. It's okay to go for seconds, but before you do, take your time enjoying
your food and conversing with fellow partygoers for at least 20 minutes while
that first round of food digests. After you do, you may realize you've already
had enough. And if you do decide to go back for seconds, don't restock the
plate with everything on the table. Just take a small amount of a few
of your favorites.
- Don't hover around the
food table. This is a recipe for disaster. I've found
myself picking up olives and crackers as if my hand had a mind of its own. Take
a cracker and runfar, far away from the food table. If you're still
hungry, walk back overbut don't hover. Your waistline will thank
- Treat yourself with
nonedible rewards. It's natural for people to associate
events and personal accomplishments with food. Holidays, weddings, football
games, movies, job promotions, housewarmings, school events, community
celebrationscustomarily, they're celebrated with food. Instead, though,
try treating yourself with nonedible rewards. Work out, watch a TV show, get a
massage or a manicure, buy a new outfit, or phone a friend to share your
excitement. Focus on the reason for the celebration rather than the
- Dress to
impress. Don't wear clothes that let you overeat without
feeling or showing it. If you wear extra-loose, über-comfy clothesor ones
with an elasticized waistbandyou might eat more. Instead, try wearing an outfit
you look great inif possible, one that's a little bit formfitting. Then there's
less room to get away with eating too much. Besides, you'll get deluged with
compliments that'll make you feel so great you won't want to
Mastering portion control will give you more
control over your body and your life. Whether you're at a restaurant, at home,
at work, or at a party, there's no excuse. You have the power to set yourself
up for success. Being mindful of your portions will help you feel better right
after each meal, which will help you manage your weight more effectively.
You'll learn how to enjoy your favorite foods, boost your health, and even save
some cash by eating less. Now isn't that worth a little bit of effort and