7 Tips for Controlling Portion Size for Weight Loss

You've probably heard it a million times: Portion control is the key to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. It makes complete sense: Eat smaller portions, and you'll consume fewer calories. But it's easy to overindulge when we're surrounded by oversized restaurant portions, bulk sizes at the supermarket, and all-you-can-eat buffets. Try some of these tips to get your portion sizes under control.

Don't Worry About Cleaning Your Plate

Mature couple eating in a restaurant
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When dining out, some people will clear their plate no matter how big the portions. If you're one of them, try to eat a healthy portion, then stop. Ask your server to wrap up the leftovers immediately, so you're not tempted to keep nibbling. You'll save on calories and have another meal for the next day!

Buy Individual-Sized Snacks

You may save money buying bulk foods at Costco or the other warehouse stores, but it's not helping you cut back on calories. Once that enormous bag of potato chips is opened, it's very tempting to continue snacking. I especially have a hard time with this when I'm hungry after a run and I feel justified to eat a very large snack.

Try buying individual-sized snacks and limit yourself to eating just one. Or, if you really don't want to spend the extra money, divide your bulk-sized snacks into small baggies when you get home from the store.

Read the Nutrition Labels Carefully

Many packaged foods and drinks look as if they provide one serving, but they're actually two or more. Yet the calories and other nutritional information on the label are for just one serving, so unless you read carefully, you may be consuming more calories than you think. Make sure you check the number of servings per container first and then eat or drink just one serving.

Order From the Kid's Menu

Request an appetizer-size or child-size portion of your favorite dish, especially if you find it tough to stop after eating half a regular portion. You'll save money and calories! If none of the kids' or appetizer options appeal to you, ask the server to give you a to-go box with your meal, so you can pack up half of the portion even before you start eating,

Use Smaller Dishes and Utensils

Downsizing your dinnerware may help you consume fewer calories. Food psychologist Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating invited 85 food experts to an ice cream social for and gave them a small or large bowl and a small or large scoop. Even the experts, who should know better, served 31% more ice cream (127 more calories) in the large bowl and 15% more (60 calories) from the big spoon. Try using smaller plates, bowls, and glasses for your meals.

Even the size of your utensils can make a difference. Use small serving spoons to serve fattening topping like gravy, and large ones for low-calorie items like veggies.

Keep a Food Diary

Keeping track of your calories in a food diary or tracking app will help keep you more aware of how many calories you’re consuming. You'll less likely to reach for more servings when you know you'll be writing it down.

Wait Before You Reach for Seconds

If you're hungry for more, try waiting 10 minutes. Your stomach needs about that long to signal the brain that it's full. Instead of going for that second plate of pasta, distract yourself by talking to someone or reading, if you're dining alone. If you're truly hungry after 10 minutes, help yourself to more of a low-cal food.