A majority of the time, I watch what I eat. I’d like to think I live by the 80/20 rule, and would never deprive myself of food. But, like a lot of people, I often fall victim to the “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” scenario, and consume more than my bodies needs.
Yep, portion control is one of those healthy-eating tricks that’s definitely easier said than done, especially when we live in a world where pasta is served in a cheese wheel and burgers are bigger than our heads.
However, according to registered dietitian and founder of online program Shape Me, Susie Burrell, if you’re trying to lose weight or develop healthy eating patterns, it’s more important to have a good idea of what a healthy portion looks like, rather than eat clean.
It does not matter how healthy your food choices are, if you are eating more than you need, you will gain weight. The exception to this rule is vegetables and salad. Generally speaking, vegetables and salads have very few calories and for this reason, you can literally eat as much as you like. One of the biggest issues in relation to portions is that the portions of our food, from the sizes of the slices of bread that we eat to the serving sizes of fast food and cafe meals, are much, much larger than they were 20 years ago. As we find ourselves less active, and as such burning fewer calories, larger portion sizes are a significant contributor to weight gain – Susie Burrell, R.D.
To help set us in the right direction, Burrell graciously shared her top five portion control tips. Bonus: they’re all extremely doable.
“Generally speaking, for a small female, a plate should be made up of 1/2 vegetables or salad; 1/4 protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, eggs or dairy and then 1/4 of good quality carbs such as starchy veggies, brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain bread or crackers,” says Burrell.
If half of your plate is already filled with salad or vegetables, which are low in calories and fat, it’s hard to fit other foods that may not be as good for you.
“Don’t pour sauces or dressings straight from the bottle, because you’re likely to overpour,” says Burrell. And, overpouring could turn your healthy meal into a calorie-laden mess.
Preparation will keep you from overeating, and it’s also a huge time-saver throughout the week. “Keep measuring cups and scales handy so you can always check portion sizes for things like protein, cereals, and grains” suggests Burrell.
Eating off smaller plates essentially tricks your mind into thinking you’re eating more than you are. And when in doubt, Burrell recommends smaller serves of food, like a smaller piece of fruit.