Avoid Portion Distortion

Want to try eating smaller? These tips from choosemyplate.gov can get you off to a great start:

We’ve all been guilty of “portion distortion” – of believing that we’re eating a lot less than we actually are.  Avoid that trap by figuring out how big your portions really are:

Pour into a bowl the amount of cereal you really eat. Then pour that into a measuring cup. You might be surprised. You can also do that comparison with your other dishes and portions. For example, measure 1 cup of juice to see what 1 cup of liquid looks like in your favorite glass.

Prepare, serve, and eat smaller portions of food. Give yourself some small amounts to eat and drink. Go back for seconds only if you are still hungry.  

Listen to your stomach. Pay attention to feelings of hunger. Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full. If there is still food on your plate or on the table, put it away (or throw it out). A simple trick to help you eat less is to use a smaller plate, bowl, or glass. One cup of food on a small plate looks like more than the same cup of food on a large plate.

Eating out can be a challenge if you’re trying to control your food intake. Order a smaller size option, when it's available. Manage larger portions by sharing or taking home part of your meal.

If you tend to overeat, be aware of the time of day, place, and your mood while eating so you can better control your eating pattern. Some people overeat when stressed or upset. Try walking, breathing deeply or eat a lower-fat option like yogurt.

Work on overcoming stumbling blocks. Here are a few:

I don't have time to measure out my foods all the time.

You don’t have to do it all the time. You just need to measure your portions once. And even if you’re not measuring your food, just eating or drinking less than normally means you’re decreasing your portion sizes.

I’m supposed to eat more of some foods but smaller portions. I don’t understand.

The recommendation to decrease portion sizes is particularly important for high calorie foods or for foods with a lot of empty calories, such as cakes, cookies, sugary drinks, and pizza. You can eat more of foods that are good for you: for example, eat a large portion of steamed broccoli (but with only a very small amount of butter or cheese sauce, if any). 

I like to eat a big burger every once in a while. Are there other ways to eat less?

You can occasionally eat or drink foods in larger portions, but not as part of your daily diet. Make that big burger a "once-in-a-while" special treat, and on most days choose the smaller options.

I was always told to clean my plate.

Resign from the "clean your plate" club now.  Stop eating when you are satisfied, not when your plate is empty. Start your meal by eating only half of what's on your plate. Stop for a moment and decide if you really want to eat more. Don't forget that you can save some leftovers for another meal or snack. Learn more about keeping food safe to eat. Nothing has to go to waste, and the food will taste better when you are hungry again!

For more information, tips and tools on eating right, visit choosemyplate.gov.


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