It’s pretty obvious that standard food portion sizes have greatly increased in recent years. It’s also no secret that we are weighing more and have bigger waistlines than ever before.
Portion sizes started getting bigger back in the 1970’s and really took off in the 1980’s… and it’s just been increasing from there. For example, the “Supersize” fries at McDonalds in the 1990’s weighs the same as the “Large” fries sizes today.
To give you an even better idea, here are some more examples of how food portion sizes have changed (from the National Institutes of Health):
- A 5-ounce muffin:
- had 190 calories 20 years ago but has 500 calories now.
- A 3-cup chicken Caesar salad:
- had 390 calories over 20 years ago but has 790 calories now.
- A large cookie:
- had 55 calories 20 years ago but has 275 calories now.
- A bagel:
- that was 3 inches wide 20 years ago had 140 calories but a 6-inch bagel has 350 calories now.
Shockingly, average caloric consumption has increase over TWICE as much in common foods people order every day. And we know that obesity is a big problem because people aren’t exercising enough and are eating too many calories. (For some quick and fun exercise, check out this post.)
That’s why you hear all this talk of portion control—because the average person is eating too many processed, packaged foods—and eating more of them than they really need.
If that sounds like you, don’t worry! There are some habits you can develop to be more aware of your food and naturally reduce you portions, which is what is causing the weight gain.
Here are those tips:
#1 Slow Down Your Eating
This is number one because it’s the most important tip. Most people will describe themselves are fast eaters—and it makes sense. Life these days is so rushed and everyone’s in a hurry: rushing to work, rushing through short lunches, rushing home, hurrying out to get groceries, etc. Rush, rush, rush!
But rushing through your meals doesn’t allow your body time to know it’s full at the correct times. The key is to focus on slower, more mindful eating.
Next time you eat, take a moment to appreciate the look, texture, and smell of the food. Take smaller bites and chew thoroughly so you can get the most out of each bite. Let yourself enjoy whatever you’re eating.
Pay attention to your fullness signals so you know when you’re full. And when that happens, it means you’ve found your right portion size!
Mindful eating is also a great tool for beating closet eating.
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#2 Let Yourself Leave Food
Most of us were told to clean our plates growing up, and that “rule” carries over into adulthood. The problem with this is that, as discussed above, portion sizes are generally way too big.
So, if you clean your plate just because you feel like you have to, you’ll be ignoring your natural fullness signals and eat an excess of calories every time. And unfortunately, that leads to weight gain.
Work to re-program your mind that it’s completely okay to leave food on your plate. Check in with yourself halfway through and see if you’re still hungry. If not, stop! It’s okay, I swear!
If you’re worried about wasting food, put the rest in a container and save it for leftovers the next day. There’s no shame in that.
#3 Split it Up
An easy way to instantly decrease the amount of food in your meal is by splitting it up. For example, if you go out to eat with others, see if a friend wants to split a meal. Then, order a soup or side salad to have before your meal so you get a bunch of filling veggies. You’ll be eating more nutrient density from healthy, naturally low-calorie foods and avoiding overeating on your richer restaurant meal.
If no one’s up for splitting a meal, have the waiter simply bring a to-go box out right off the bat and add half of the meal to the box for later. You’ll be more satisfied with half when the rest is out of the way… AND that means lunch or dinner for tomorrow!
Large food portion sizes are a problem nationwide, but they don’t have to be an issue for you. Use these tips to help you cut down and listen to your body next time you are faced with a lot of food!