For the past three weeks, one of my dearest friends, M, and I have been following the Women’s Health Diet Challenge that’s supposed to shape your eating habits to be healthier.
I’ve been incredibly proud of our dedication: we’ve been recording every little thing we eat, including any late night snacks that we aren’t supposed to have, along with our exercise and how many drinks we consume. We encourage each other to meet our goals, like not eating sweets and running a certain amount of miles every week – and when one of us falls off the wagon… the other one helps them up…
…or you know, falls right down with them into a cave of red wine and brownies. Or tequila and cupcakes.
Though we’re only half-way through the cleanse, we’re both already seeing changes: losing weight, saving money (bringing your lunch and making it at home is so cheap!), running more and faster, and overall, just feeling slimmer. We’ve each had our own struggles but have pretty much kept to the diet, minus some exceptions that make sense with our lifestyle. (Girl’s night out must have some sort of wine! You can’t eat in every single night in New York City!) But the one thing that’s made the past few weeks so hard for me is portion control.
It’s a total bitch.
I never realized how much bigger my serving sizes were than the recommended amount – 1 cup of brown rice looks a lot different than the two cups the Chinese restaurants give you. And 25 almonds for a snack might seem like a lot, but if you grab a handful or two, you’re probably consuming 50 (and 500+ calories!). The first days of the challenge, I basically felt like I was starving to death because I was eating much less – but now, I noticed how much easier I feel full and satisfied compared to before.
N, my friend and the blogger behind Mrs. Healthy Ever After made an amazing transformation last year and lost weight by changing her eating habits. Since she’s my go-to person for making yummy, hearty but healthy meals, I asked her to give some awesome tips on how to manage portion control, make good choices and lose weight:
When I served my brother the same portion of pasta I had just served my then boyfriend (now husband), his eyes grew wide as if to say “Challenge accepted.” But half-way through, he gave up, groaning that I shouldn’t give him “Addison-sized” portions. It wasn’t until that moment did I realize I had inadvertently been trained horrible portion habits because of my garbage disposal man.
Once we got married, we vowed to get our eating habits under control, and thus, Mrs. Healthy Ever After was born. One of the first problems we tackled was portion control, and trust me when I say these really do work. Even my pasta guzzling husband agrees.
Plate size matters
We hear a lot about how half the battle of weight loss and health is psychological. It really is true. Plate sizes have grown exponentially over the years, making us think that we really need all that space for food. The truth is, most plates are more than double the size we need. If you put your food on a smaller plate, your brain will register it as a significant amount of food. However, if you put the same size food on a bigger plate, your brain will tell yourself that you are being deprived and need more. Reach for the smaller plates to help trick yourself into better habits. Half the time, my husband doesn’t even realize I’m using different sized plates.
Plan ahead proper portions
Buying individual sized, portion-controlled snacks can get pricey (and let’s be honest, who eats just one of those, right?). Save money by buying your snacks in bulk and researching portion size yourself. Separate them into little zip lock baggies (you can even get extra small baggies to go hand-in-hand with the psychology of tip #1). If you always have perfectly portioned snacks on hand, you’re not going to be tempted to eat the whole bag of pretzels—especially if you refuse to keep a whole bag in your house.
Do the Half-Plate trick
My husband really struggled with wanting to eat large portions of meat. For myself, as the Italian of the relationship, I was more carb driven and always wanted pasta or breads. When you have a meal that showcases something scrumptious but not necessarily healthy when eaten out of proportion, do the half-plate trick: fill half your plate with veggies. Have a separate bowl for salad when you’re eating pasta? Trying putting it on your plate next to your main course. Eating a steak dinner? Measure out your portions and place it alongside half a plate of grilled vegetables. Remember, you can never O.D. on veggies so take advantage!
Don’t trust restaurant portions
Very rarely do restaurants actually give you a human amount of food—in that, sometimes it’s even three times more than you should ever consume in a setting. If you don’t want to eat a “healthy” item on the menu or focus on a green salad, then opt to split your entrée in half. Most restaurants will even box the other half before serving you your meal if you ask. Two meals for the price of one? Yes please!
How can you eat proper portions if you don’t actually know what they are? Many people struggle with either eating too much or too little. Both can be detrimental to your weight loss journey. Do your homework. Learn that 4 ounces of meat equals roughly the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Still struggling? Invest in a food scale and literally measure your food until you teach yourself the visual cues you need.
Don’t think you struggle with portion control?
Try the sure fire test that will open your eyes! Pour yourself a bowl of cereal without measuring it, serving yourself your typical portion. Afterward, actually measure it out. Chances are, you will have served yourself between two to four times the amount recommended.
Check out N’s awesome blog here.
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Portion control is SO important. I feel like I’m pretty good with portions – I often get yelled at for not cleaning my plate, lol, but if I did the cereal test, I think I’d fail! Good luck with sticking to it!
xo Megan, Lush to Blush
I love food. So portion control is the hardest thing for me. I don’t eat many unhealthy foods. Actually I eat a good amount of healthy foods, I just eat a lot of them in one sitting.
I have tried portion control, sometimes I’m even very good with it, but other times, I’m horrible with it.
I wish you lots of luck! I know how hard it can be when you love food. XD
This is a great post! I’m definitely not good about portion control. I don’t eat a ton of meat, but it’s the carbs that get me. I should definitely try the half plate trick!