Portion Control Tips
you know that consuming as few as 100 extra calories per day – the amount
found in 10 American-size French fries – can add up to a 10-pound weight
gain in a year? This is why nutritionist Catherine Reade says that learning
to control portion sizes is crucial to life-long weight management.
she warns that obsessively counting calories and measuring your food before
you eat is not healthy. In her article, “Less is More”, in the
Idea Health & Fitness Source Magazine, she gives practical tips that you
can use while eating at home, eating out, and while snacking.
Eating breakfast helps control your appetite. Studies show that breakfast
eaters consume fewer calories throughout the day.
Start meals with fiber-rich fruits or vegetables so you are not as hungry
for the higher calorie food.
- Reade recommends
taking the time to measure a teaspoon or tablespoon of oil to see what it
looks like in the pan. That way, in the future, you will not be pouring too
- Reade says that
serving foods family-style in the middle of the table makes it too easy to
take second and third helpings. Try putting the serving bowls in the kitchen
or on a side table a distance away from the dining table.
- To visualize
what portions on your plate should look like, Read suggests using the “plate
model” method. One half the plate should be filled with vegetables,
one-quarter with grains (like rice), and the remaining one-quarter with meat,
fish, eggs, tofu or legumes (like mongo). Add a fruit on the side and you
are good to go.
- Reade calls
using smaller plates a psychologically powerful way to decrease portion sizes
without feeling deprived.
The following tips
apply to both fast-food outlets and fine-dining establishments.
Start each meal with a big glass of water. And request for refills throughout
the meal, adds Reade, because water fills you up without adding any calories
plus it’s free.
you know you’ll be having steak for dinner, says Reade, choose light
fare for lunch – for example, a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato
and mustard and a fruit for dessert. In our Filipino setting, this would
be similar to having chicken tinola for lunch because you are going to have
crispy pata for dinner.
your time to ask how selections from the menu are prepared, suggests Reade.
You can also make a special request for a low-calorie meal. For example,
ask that steamed vegetables replace a side order of baked potato.
fast-food restaurants, Reade warns that although the biggest portions appear
to give you the best value, resist and opt for the smallest burger or the
plain grilled-chicken sandwich.
in doubt, order simple dishes. Saucy foods contain more calories than foods
that are simply baked or grilled.
salad dressing and sauces on the side to control the amount of fat you consume.
Reade reminds us that like all fried foods, French fries contain excessive
amounts of fat. She says that if you must indulge yourself, order the smallest
you adore crusty bread, go for it, Reade says, but round out your meal with
a salad and fruit cocktail. She also suggests skipping the appetizers and
bread and butter if you’ve got your heart set on having a large entrée.
If portions are big, share an order or take half home. When your meal arrives,
ask for a take-out box immediately, says Reade. Put away half your meal
before you even start.
Reade says that
many people believe that they should avoid snacking when they are watching
their food intake. Actually, she explains, a healthy snack once or twice a
day between meals can help ward off hunger and prevent binges. Once again,
she points out that the key is to choose the right snack and then eat it in
on fruits and vegetables are an easy way to eat your minimum five-a-day
eating, your snack, do just that – eat. Reade explains that watching
TV or reading a book while you snack leads to mindless munching and excess
calories. Other experts say that you don’t even feel satisfied because
your mind is not concentrating on the flavor and texture of the snack.
agree with Reade that when you indulge in treats, enjoy each and every bite.
Stop feeling guilty because you are eating supposedly “bad”
food. She points out that eating low-fat chocolate cookies is often unsatisfying,
even if you eat the whole box. Choose smaller quantities of the real thing
and savor the flavor. Amen to that!
warns that buying chips and cookies in bulk usually means eating them in
equally bulky portion sizes. If you buy in bulk to save money, divide the
chips or cookies into small plastic containers and store them away for future
use. Just don’t do this when you are hungry.
says that nuts are rich in fiber and protein and are a superior alternative
to chips. It’s true that they are high in fat but a handful of nuts
can go a long way in sustaining a feeling of fullness. She says you just
have to remember to keep each portion to one or two ounces (about 10 to
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