When I was struggling with weight issues and trying to drop the excess pounds, portion control was one of the strongest weapons in the arsenal of healthy habits that I unleashed against my obesity.
With a goal of dropping below 200 pounds and needing to strike out the equivalent of four, full-weight bowling balls to get there, I decided that one area of my life in which I could make drastic improvements was not just in what I ate, but also in how much I consumed.
So, I started to take stock of what and how much I ate, and soon decided that my success would come with portion control.
Of course, cutting back on how much I ate would only help me wage half the battle. The rest of that fight would mean my having to find a way to stave off hunger without piling on the carbs, fats, and sodium that I so desperately was trying to cut back on.
Here’s what I did to cut back on the portions without feeling constantly hungry:
#1 – Graze like the cows.
I always swore by eating three squares growing up, but what ended up happening as I got into my late teenage years is that those three meals started looking bigger and bigger… and far less square.
I found that by ditching the three big meals a day and aiming for five or six mini meals, that I actually began eating less of the unhealthy food, and that vegetables and handy fruits (raisins and bananas, for example) started constituting more of my snacks.
#2 – Ramp up the water intake.
With less food on my plate, I feared that I would soon face the beast of hunger. And, I quickly did.
I soon offset the feeling of hunger by drinking more water, which not only is a far healthier choice than sodas and sugary juices, but also helps to hydrate the body and cleanse it of toxins. I always aimed for 8 glasses of water a day, which I easily got in by spreading them out over the entire day, particularly right before and just after meals.
#3 – Know what real serving sizes are.
Portions are the amount of food you eat, but servings refer to how much food one is recommended to eat. Learning that difference was a major revelation for me, because it then sparked a desire to learn exactly how much (or little) I should be eating.
Guidelines set by the American Dietetic Association were especially helpful, because they compare the various sizes of food servings to those of everyday items. For example, a serving of:
• Pasta equals the size of a baseball, or 1 cup
• Fruit is also equivalent to a baseball
• Margarine is the size of a single dice, or 1 teaspoon
• Meat comes to the thickness of a deck of cards, or 3 ounces
• Cheese compares to four stacked dice, or 1-1/2 ounces
So, did my portion control efforts help me to lose weight? I am proud to resoundingly say, “yes!” In fact, I have not only reached my weight loss goal, but I have also managed to maintain it for 3 years now and counting. However, remember that portion control cannot in itself help you shed the pounds.
In addition to keeping a vigilant eye on how much I ate, other healthy habits I adopted in my daily routine included exercising more, reducing the length of my sitting periods, choosing healthy fast food options when I had to eat on the go, and sleeping at least 7 or 8 hours a night on a regular basis.