When you think of portion control, you think of your fist, a thumb or deck of cards to correctly learn how much food you should be eating. We know how much we are “supposed” to eat but we just can’t seem to stick to that magic number. The USDA says Americans eating 500 more calories today than we were in the 70’s but why can’t we stop? Is it really our fault or can we blame to food industry, stress or food science?

The consensus is that environmental influences have changed our food intake.

To beat the growing calorie trend, we need to create an environment where we don’t always have to be on all the time.

Willpower is like a muscle and with constant exercise, it experiences fatigue.

On Wednesday I flew down to the Hilton Head Health Resort for 3 nights to experience the Live Well program. I sat in on a Portion Control lecture that was fascinating to me. I thought I would find it boring, talking about correctly measuring food but really it was about how to eat less mindlessly. Forget eating mindfully – yes, we should do that – but it’s hard and requires practice. Make things easier for yourself. Bypass will power and make it easy to eat less with these tips.

#1 Re-engineer your home and office environments for success.

Keep danger foods out of your house or at least out of sight. Make it mindless by never thinking about your trigger foods. Keep healthy snacks out in the open. Buy single serve quantities for snacks if possible. Never eat directly out of the bag. “We have to be mindful to create an environment where we can eat mindlessly.”

“In the contest between the environment and willpower, the environment always wins.”

The bigger the container, the bigger the portion, the more available and convenient, the and the variety, the healthier it sounds, the MORE WE EAT.

Will power is like a muscle and with constant exercise is experiences fatigue.

#2. Use Small Plates and Glasses.

People serve themselves 20-30% more food on larger plates than smaller plates. Diners who ate off a 9 inch plate ate 48% fewer calories than those who ate off a 12 inch plate. When eating cereal out of a 8 oz or 16 oz bowl, children from preschool to age 10 asked for more food and ate 52% more out of the larger bowl while wasting 14% more.

Damn you FroYo joints who only offer large bowls for self serve!

Getting married soon? Register for 9 inch dinner plates and tall narrow glasses for everyday use. People drink 30% more from short,wide glasses. Not getting married in the near future or already are, hop over to the Christmas Tree Shop for cheap new dinnerware or store away the big guys.

#3. Read labels and look at serving size.

Some foods look like they might be one serving but read the label. You would be shocked. When comparing items, look at the weight in grams. A label’s serving isn’t always a portion we would eat to feel satisfied.
Even when looking at labels on a protein or snack bar, look to see the weight in grams when comparing two side by side. Some bars may have the same nutrition information but one has a greater volume which will help you feel more full than the smaller bar most likely. I am a volume eater. I like volume which is why I would rather eat a big salad and a cookie vs a plate of pasta.
Also read labels because claims made on the front can be bogus. Right now, 44% of food packages have some sort of healthy claim! The product below is not still on the market thank goodness.

#4. Buy smaller boxes.

When preparing dinner for two, people used 29% more spaghetti from a 2 lb box than a 1 lb box.

While watching TV, overweight people ate twice as many crackers out of a 400 calorie bag than out of four 100 calorie bags. I think we all know not to eat directly out of a bag or box but really, don’t eat out of a large bag or box.

#5. Keep treats out of sight and located inconveniently.

Out of sight. Out of mind. Secretaries ate 9 Hershey kisses when the dish was left on their desk, 4 when it was 6 feet away. The reduced consumption by 75% when it was put in a drawer.
Remember this, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” Thanks Beth for that one!
To read more on this topic, check out Mindless Eating by Dr Brian Wansink.

How To Eat Mindlessly Without Gaining Weight

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