You shouldn’t always go for the smaller plate.
It doesn’t matter what diet you follow. To lose weight, you’ve got to know when to pump the breaks on your portions. But, of course that’s easier said than done when faced with a giant bowl of pasta.
Portion sizes have increased so drastically in past decades that our eyes don’t know what “just enough” actually looks like. The result: We overeat more calories than we think and wind up derailing our weight-loss efforts.
Weighing and measuring your food can certainly help. But weighing and measuring is also cumbersome. Instead, use these crazy simple cues to keep your portion sizes on track and make losing weight so much easier:
1.) Start Cooking with Condiments First
Try dishing out however much butter, oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise, or any other extras you plan to use in your dish, and then put the bottle away before you get cooking. You’ll automatically end up using much healthier portion sizes. That’s because most people don’t realize that they’re going overboard on the sauces and sides when they’re topping off their food. It’s a small change that can lead to a big reward in the long term.
2.) Fill Half of Your Plate with Veggies
When piling food onto your plate, follow one simple rule: Fill half of it with vegetables, one-quarter with protein, and one-quarter with starches. For most women, increasing vegetable portion sizes automatically decreases portion sizes of more calorically-dense foods, like pasta and steak. Vegetables play a crucial role in maintaining proper portion sizes. Veggies take up space on the plate, leading to psychological satiety, and are full of fiber, leading to physiological satiety.
3.) Avoid “Diet” Foods
Fat-free, low-cal, and gluten-free basically mean super-easy to overeat. Many packaged diet foods are so low in one nutrients—like fat, sugar, or calories—that they’re ridiculously high in the other two or leave you hungry. The result: Your portions get out of hand.
4.) Cut Up Your Food Before Sitting at the Table
When you chop up a chicken breast or sweet potato, it automatically takes up way more space on your plate—which can help you feel like your portion sizes are more satisfying. And, since satiety is as much in your head as it is in your stomach and that makes a big difference.
5.) Know When to Use Bigger Plates
Yeah, you’ve heard that eating entrees off of smaller plates can help you cut back. But not all portion-control strategies should be about eating less. When you’re preparing a fresh salad, a large pasta bowl can serve as a wholesome amount for a meal. Just make sure that the bulk of your salad is actually veggies.