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10 Tips for Mastering the Art of Portion Control

For many of us, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, a recipe for weight gain and sluggishness. Here are some simple things that I do to cut back on my portions.

By Melissa Fine, Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor.

1) Stick to smaller plates:
I have a much smaller portion of muesli and yoghurt at breakkie if I eat from a small bowl or teacup; As soon as I use a larger dish, I give myself a larger serving of whatever I’m having so the plate looks full, which also tends to leave me feeling uncomfortably full!

2) …And smaller drinks (bar water):
Whether it’s a juice, latte or glass of wine, it’s easy to sip on more kilojoules than we need with beverages, and without even realising as there’s no need to chew. Stick to small smoothies, juices and coffees when you’re out and drink from smaller-sized glasses at home; An easy way to cut back on calories.

3) Pre-portion your snacks:
So you don’t end up mindlessly eating a whole bag of raw almonds or grapes mid-morning. I like to divide handful-size portions of nuts or fruit into mini containers or snap-lock bags and take just what I need for the day (so that I don’t end up eating a few day’s worth of snacks).

Good quality snack bars (made from wholesome ingredients) are great because they’re portion-controlled for you; Just make sure you read the label’s nutritional info – Some protein or fruit and nut bars can contain a main meal’s worth of kilojoules. When I choose a bar for a snack, I look for one with around 350-650 kJ, like BiteSmart’s Primal Performance Bar, which also has a good amount of protein from ingredients like whey protein isolate and almonds, plus three of my favourite foods – coffee, coconut and cocoa :D

4) Eat more real food:
A diet based on wholefoods – One with fibre-rich veg, fruit and whole grains, protein like meat, fish, eggs and legumes, and healthy fats like nuts, seeds and olive oil - doesn’t leave much room for junk food because these foods fill you up! Highly processed stuff on the other hand like white bread, baked goods, confectionery and deli meats lack the abundant nutrients real foods have to offer. And eating too much junk food is easy to do because it offers no nourishment, which can leave us looking for more food.

5) Stick to modest portion sizes:
Even with healthy foods, there can be too much of a good thing. With protein, a serve the size and thickness of your palm is generally adequate, but when I buy a fillet of salmon it tends to be double this; Once cooked, I keep half the fillet for lunch the next day so that I don’t consume more energy than I need. With starchy carbs, a medium potato or sweet potato, or ½ - ¾ of a cup of brown rice or quinoa is a decent, but modest amount to stick to. Fill up the rest of your plate with low kilojoule salad greens and non-starchy roast veg – Lately I’m loving a combo of eggplant, zucchini and juicy red capsicum.

6) Don’t start with foods you know you can’t stop on:
For me, it’s popcorn…One handful and I know I’ll end up going back for another and another.

7) Put it on a plate:
This way you’ll register that you’re having a meal or snack, as you can see it in front of you. Eating from a bag or a box makes it hard to know how much you’ve had.

8) Break the habit of going back for seconds:
As good as that roast or ice-cream may be, eating it twice won’t make it any more delicious – But it might well double your kilojoule intake at each meal. If you still feel hungry after eating, drink a glass of water and try wait 20 minutes so that your brain has time to register that you’re probably full.

9) Share!
A great way to save $$ and extra kilojoules (especially with things like large pasta dishes and desserts) at restaurants. And as tempting as it may be to eat that whole huge piece of cake, I reckon dessert is way more fun when you enjoy it with someone.

10) Be aware of mindless eating:
I know if I drink my coffee in the car, my lunch standing up, or my dinner in front of the TV, I feel like I haven’t eaten and am more likely to want a second portion or something sweet. Make a point of eating your next meal slowly and with minimal distractions, taking note of its colours, aromas, flavours and textures…I’m an eat-everything-on-my-plate kind of person, but when I’m consciously more mindful of my meal, I find I actually leave some food on my plate.

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