It is a well-established fact that decreasing daily calorie intake and increasing the amount of calories burned through physical activities and exercise are very important if you really want to lose weight. Cutting down on calories is quite simple as you only need to skip high-calorie but low-nutrient foods, choose low-calorie food stuffs, and reduce your portion sizes. Managing your portion control is a lot easier for many folks as they can still get to enjoy their favorite foods, albeit at a much smaller portion. Here’s how.
- Always start your meals with water
One of the easiest ways to manage your portion sizes is by drinking a large glass of water even before you start putting food in your mouth. Water tends to fill your stomach which stretches it to some degree. When your stomach is stretched to a certain level, it sends signals to the brain telling it to stop eating. So, filling your stomach with water helps initiate the stretch and allows for significantly smaller amount of food to stretch it to its threshold level. Water doesn’t contain calories, too, yet it performs a lot of vital functions in keeping physiologic processes in their optimum levels. In some ways, filling the stomach with water can also help reduce the feeling of hunger.
- Learn to estimate portion sizes
If you are at home, controlling your portion sizes is easy as you can use devices to measure the ingredients accurately and then looking at your handy reference book the amount of calories that you may have for such a dish. Unfortunately, if you’re eating outside, you don’t have the luxury of these resources, unless you’d like to slip these into your bag. It is thus, crucial for portion control to learn some handy and ballpark techniques to estimating the amount of calories that you are consuming for a particular food without relying on standard measurement references. Here are some of them.
- A deck of cards is roughly equivalent to 3 ounces of your cooked meat, poultry, or fish
- The surface of an open palm, not including the fingers, is equivalent to 3 to 4 ounces of your cooked pasta, potatoes, meat, poultry, or fish
- A fingertip is equal to a teaspoon of mayonnaise, butter, or oil
- The entire length of the thumb is about the size of an ounce or about 1 to 2 tablespoons of salad dressing, peanut butter, or cheese
- An ice cream scoop is almost the same as a half cup of your food
- A tennis ball roughly estimates a cup of ingredients
- A closed fist is about the size of a cup of your food such as fresh vegetables and fruits as well as cereals
- A standard domino block is equivalent to about an ounce of cheese
- A cupped hand is a rough estimation of half a cup of cooked veggies, crackers, or even pretzels
It is important to remember that, if you choose to use the parts of your hands to estimate portion sizes, the palms is used for estimating proteins, the cupped hand is for carbohydrates, the clenched fist is for veggies, and the thumb is for fats.
- Use dishware designed for portion control
Sometimes you need some gadgets or devices to help you with portion control. There are plenty of dishware products in the market that are specifically for managing your portion sizes. These can be made of plastic, glass, or even stainless steel, but they all have one thing in common. They are all a lot smaller than conventional dishware. So, if you’re accustomed to enjoying soup from a 16 ounce bowl, you’ll have to discipline yourself to consuming only an 8 ounce bowl of soup. The same is true with plates. Additionally, you might want to consider using blue dishware. It has been proven that the color blue has a natural appetite suppressant effect. Have you ever seen blue foods?
- Prepare your own portion packs
When going on a picnic, hike, or any activity outside your home, it is important to prepare your own brand of single-serve packs rather than buying ready-to-eat meals. This way, not only are you able to exercise full control over the portions you are making, you are also able to choose those healthier ingredients that you want included in your dish. You can use the different portion control dinnerware, dishware, and storage boxes we have mentioned in the section above.
- Measure ingredients accurately
Whatever you do, it is imperative to measure your ingredients accurately. While the simple portion size estimation we have shared with you above can be very handy when you’re outside the home, we strongly recommend getting highly accurate measuring devices to help you observe strict portion control. There is a variety of digital kitchen countertop weighing scales that you can use to measure the weight in grams or ounces different ingredients. You can also measure liquids using such gadgets since 1 gram is equivalent to 1 milliliter of fluids. Measuring cups, spoons, and flasks can also help.
- Fill meat dishes with veggies
Vegetables are packed with nutrients necessary for a variety of functions. They also have fewer calories for every gram. Using this knowledge you can then include them in your dishes as fillers. These add volume to your dish so you’ll get more of its tummy-filling benefits than calorie-dense meats, poultry, and fish. Also, you might want to concoct a low-calorie vegetable soup before taking your main course. It distends your stomach so that you only need to eat less of your main meal to feel full.
- Be very particular about measuring oil
Whether it is healthy oil or a not-so-healthy version, carefully measuring it is the key to successful portion control. Fat has more calories on a per gram basis than carbohydrate and protein combined. That is why it should be used sparingly or in very modest amounts. This is where precision measurements are crucial.
Managing your portion sizes is an easy way to cut on the calories to help you lose weight. By adhering to some, if not all, of the above-mentioned tips, you can be more successful in your portion control efforts.