Tag Archives: portion control

12 Simple Ways to Eat Less and Feel Better

usda my plate-984891711_v2.grid-4x2Do you eat when you’re bored? Stressed? Or wait until you feel starved and then overeat? Is it hard to judge portions, or do you end up with super-sized meals at restaurants?

Many factors can contribute to how much you eat. The good news is that you can control most of these factors and eventually turn them into healthy eating habits.

Here are 12 simple ways you can eat less on a daily basis and feel better about what you eat:

Serve yourself healthy foods first.
Load your plate up with the healthiest food choices first. Whether you’re eating at home, a restaurant or a buffet line, dish up the veggies, whole grains, and fruits before the fattier meats or side dishes. Then, you can go back and sample a few less healthy options or have a small dessert.

Use smaller plates and bowls.
The size of your dishes gives your brain cues on how much you’re “supposed” to eat. The bigger the dish means that you can have more food. In a study, people at a Chinese buffet who got a large plate served themselves 52% more food, and ate 45% more of it, than those who had smaller plates.

Use taller glasses.
Just like less food looks like more food on a smaller plate, height makes things look larger than width, even if the volume of both glasses is the same. You can cut down on liquid calories by choosing taller glasses rather than shorter, fatter ones.

Eat protein for breakfast.
Most studies recommend eating breakfast every day to help kick start your metabolism. But, you only get the true benefits of breakfast if it’s high in protein. More protein can suppress your appetite and reduce subsequent eating throughout the day. Skip the pancakes and waffles, and grab an omelet instead.

Eat three meals a day.
While we’ve all heard that we should eat more, smaller meals throughout the day, research is showing that three bigger meals a day may still be the best way to control your appetite. However, skipping meals will make controlling your appetite more difficult. If you eat healthy at regular meals, you shouldn’t need any additional food.

Hide unhealthy snacks.
Studies have shown that people eat a lot more food when the food is visible, rather than putting it away where it can’t be seen. The harder food is to get to may also deter some of your snacking habits. Even better yet, keep tempting junk foods out of the house. And, on the flip side, keep healthy foods prominently displayed and easy to reach.

Order the “small” choice.
A larger container or plate can tempt you to eat more food. You may be full or even think it doesn’t taste that good, and still feel obligated to eat it. When it comes to movie popcorn, french fries, or fountain drinks, choose the smallest size option and you’ll eat less.

Take a doggy bag.
Restaurant portions are most likely going to set you up to overeat. You want a good deal for your money, but those large portions can contain more than 1,200 calories without including dessert. One trick is to divide the food on your plate in half before you start eating. Then stop eating when you’ve finished half and ask for a to-go container. You’ll have a healthier meal and leftovers for tomorrow.

Pack your lunch for work.
Even better than eating out for lunch during the week, pack your own lunch. You will be able to control the portions and select a balance of healthy foods. It’s also more cost effective and can help ensure that you eat those leftovers.

Know your weaknesses.
We all have food weaknesses. The food you can’t resist. The food you can’t stop eating. Or the food you eat even if you’re not hungry. Think about your food weaknesses. Once you recognize what they are, you can learn to avoid eating them. Don’t buy them at the grocery store. Bypass the co-worker who always brings yummy homemade desserts. You can avoid the food until you gain the strength to give up the craving.

Don’t eat from a package.
When you can’t see how much you’re eating, you’re more likely eat double or triple the proper portion. Who can eat just one potato chip out of the bag? Use a plate, bowl or even a napkin so that you can see how much you’re going to eat. And put the package away so you won’t be tempted to dump out more.

Eat slowly and savor your food.
Eating should be enjoyable. There is a benefit to slowing down and appreciating your food. Take your time between bites and chew thoroughly. When you eat more slowly, you can recognize when you’re beginning to feel full. You can stop eating before you clean your plate and feel too full. Drink water while you’re eating. These simple steps can help you cut back on unnecessary calories.

By following these simple tips, you can learn to eat less, still feel full and feel better about your eating habits.

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8 Secrets to Eating Smarter

empty-plate-with-forks-and-knifes-1357304-mLike most Americans, my eating habits need help. I am addicted to fast food, decadent desserts, sweet drinks and unhealthy snacking.

Most adults and one-third of the kids in this country are overweight. You can change your eating habits, but it means changing your lifestyle and learning to eat healthier on a daily basis.

You can replace the worst food offenders with healthier choices. It’s also important to watch portion control and pay more attention to your snacking.

Here are 8 secrets to eating smarter and changing your eating habits for life:

Control serving size
Most servings in fast food chains and even restaurants are over-sized. We have become accustomed to large servings and assume that this is the right amount of food to eat at a meal. Unfortunately, many of these meals contain almost all the calories and fat you need to eat in one day – packed into one meal.

You can learn to judge the right portion size of the foods you eat. Here are some common foods, and the size you should picture in order to judge portion size:

  • Medium baked potato = a computer mouse
  • Pasta = 1/2 a baseball
  • Cooked rice = a light bulb
  • Waffle = size of a CD
  • Muffin = tennis ball
  • Bagel = hockey puck
  • Cheese = four dice
  • Meat or fish = deck of cards or palm of your hand
  • Peanut butter = golf ball
  • Portion of fat = poker chip
  • Dessert = 1/2 a baseball

Plan for dining out
It’s important to remember portion sizes when you are eating out at restaurants. As we mentioned earlier, when dining out the meals can be enough food for two or three people.

Here are some tips to curbing portion size at restaurants:

  • Order a half portion or kids’ meal
  • Box up half of a full-size entree before you even start eating
  • Split a dish with your partner or a friend
  • Eat a healthy appetizer with a soup or salad instead of a main entree

Use a smaller plate
As a kid, you may have been told to clean your plate. You may have been taught not to waste food. The problem is that dinner plates – at home and in restaurants – have gotten bigger. We also load them up with more food than we need. If you are cleaning your plate, you are probably eating too much.

The secret is to use a smaller plate. It may seem silly, but it can help. You are forced to take smaller portions, and you may make better choices knowing you have less room on your plate. Even if you go back for seconds, you are still eating less than you did with bigger plates. Put leftovers away right after the meal, so you aren’t tempted to come back and graze.

Look for whole grains
Pizza, pasta, rice and tortillas can load on calories and fill you up with white flour and refined grains. These flours and grains have been processed to remove the bran. The bran is full of fiber and vitamins. Choose whole grain wheat, rice, barley and other grains when you can.

Watch our for solid fats
Most saturated and trans fats are solid at room temperature. These fats are found in butter, margarine, shortening, coconut oil and animal fats. Creamy dishes, fatty cuts of meat, some cheeses, bacon and chicken skin all have solid fat. While some fatty foods are good for you, you may want to learn the truth about good and bad fats.

Cut back on sugar
As a whole, we eat too much sugar. It’s just so easy! We have sodas, sports drinks, cookies, cakes and every kind of yummy pre-packaged treat. Desserts have also become over-sized and packed with sugar and unhealthy fats. The average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day when we should only eat about 6 to 9 teaspoons. Artificial sweeteners may not be any better for us than real sugar. Read more in 6 Truths about Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.

Eat more nutritious foods
As you cut back on portion size, you can also add in more healthy and nutritious choices to your diet. Instead of fatty meats, choose lean protein and seafood. Fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Choose whole grains instead of refined white flour and grains. Add in more fruit and vegetables, eggs, low-fat dairy and beans. Cut back on butter and margarine, and choose olive and canola oil. These oils are good for your waistline and your heart.

Keep an eye out for food frauds
Many healthy foods can wreck your diet if you go overboard on the serving sizes. Here are some good for you foods that should still be consumed in moderation:

  • Avocado
  • Red wine
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Energy bars
  • Smoothies

It’s hard to change eating habits that may have been developed when we were kids. It takes practice and hard work to create healthier habits. By starting with portion control and thinking about the foods you eat each day, you can learn to eat smarter and create better habits for life!

11 Tips to Eating Healthy When Dining Out

rusted-neon-green-and-white-cafe-sign-1337952-mSummertime can mean more time spent dining out. With three kids in summer sports, we often end up eating fast food between games or going out to a restaurant after the evening’s activities are finished.

We also spend more time traveling, going on vacation or visiting family and friends. It can be tempting to indulge in foods that are not necessarily part of your normal eating habits. It is also easy to eat as many as 2,000 calories in just one meal.

While you may dine out more in the summer, it doesn’t mean you have to sabotage your healthy eating habits. The key is to pay attention to your food choices and make sure that you are choosing healthy options.

Here are 11 tips to selecting healthy food choices when dining out:

Think about your beverage
Sodas and sugary drinks are a huge source of calories. Stick with water, or you can order unsweetened iced tea or fat-free or low-fat milk.

Get dressing on the side
Salad dressing can also add unnecessary calories. Request that your salad dressing be served on the side. Then, you can use only what you need. You may also want to choose vinaigrette or oil-based dressing rather than creamy dressings to cut down on calories.

Request whole-wheat bread
If you’re at a restaurant that serves bread before your meal arrives, ask for whole-wheat bread. You can also request whole-wheat bread on your sandwich or as a bun. In addition, order brown rice instead of white rice, and whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

Find hidden calories
You can keep an eye out for the most fattening foods at restaurants by reading the menu closely. Watch for words like deep-fried, sauteed, battered, breaded, cheesy, creamy, buttered or creamy. These phrases are usually signs you’ll be eating extra fat and calories.

Ask how it’s cooked
How your food is prepared makes a big difference. If the menu description isn’t clear, ask how the item is cooked. For instance, baking fish with herbs and veggies adds very few calories and fat compared to deep-frying or even sauteeing in sauces or butter. Other great cooking options include grilling, broiling, roasting, poaching and steaming.

Order sauces on the side
Even if you’re ordering a salad or a fish dish that appears to be healthy, be wary of the dressing or sauce. You may be getting tons of calories without even realizing it. As we mentioned earlier, you can request to have these add-ons served on the side. Better yet, you may find that some dishes taste great even without the added sauces. It’s also best to choose marinara or tomato sauce over an alfredo or cream-based sauce.

Choose fruits and veggies
Pick vegetables sides, such as broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas or lima beans. You may be able to select a fruit as a side or even for dessert. Just like at home, try to make fruits and vegetables half your plate.

Substitute
You can make substitutions if your meal comes as a platter or combination. Ask to substitute a vegetable for french fries. Or, if your main dish comes with coleslaw, ask for a salad or fresh fruit instead.

Mind your portions
Portions have gotten out of control over the years. It is even more likely you’ll be served an over-sized portion at a restaurant. You can control your portions by splitting a dish with someone else, ordering appetizers as your main dish, or taking home leftovers.

Share dessert
While extremely tasty, desserts at restaurants are typically loaded with calories and fat. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can split a dessert with a dinner companion. Or, if you’re dining out with a group, order a few desserts to share. You can also order fresh fruit to help balance these more decadent desserts.

Eat slowly and enjoy
Take the time to enjoy your food. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you’re full. If you eat quickly, you are more likely to overeat. Chew your food slowly and be mindful of what you are eating. Savor your food. Eating should be relaxing. When you enjoy your meal, you digest better and feel more satisfied.

You can also prepare ahead of time when you know you might dine out. Plan a light lunch if you know you’re going out to eat for dinner.

You should still eat regular meals rather than skipping meals and over-indulging later. You also don’t want to go to a restaurant starving and then eat too much. Balance your meals throughout the day so you can enjoy eating out without overeating.

7 tips for healthier eating habits

healthier eating habitsAny time I hear someone say, “I’m on a diet,” I want to cringe. To me, “dieting” is almost a dirty word.

Dieting generally has a negative connotation because it conjures up ideas of fad diets and unhealthy weight loss. Going on a diet means you are temporarily depriving yourself of some type of food. A diet is not something you sustain over time.

When you go on fad diets, you are typically leaving out necessary nutrients. Dieting can make your body think it’s starving, and it actually starts to store fat. You can also become food obsessed – worrying about counting calories, carbs, proteins or fat. When taken to the extreme, dieting may be doing harm to your body and putting you at risk for illness.

The best diet is not a “diet” at all but a way of life that lets you eat the nutritious foods your body needs to thrive. By creating healthy eating habits, you can lose weight, tone up, feel better and have more energy. It may mean changing your mindset from dieting to eating a healthier, more balanced variety of foods.

Here are some tips to help you develop healthier eating habits and stick to it:

Tip 1: Start slowly
It can be overwhelming to think about overhauling all your eating habits at once. Trying to change everything at once can be hard and often leads to cheating or simply giving up. Start by adding a salad once a day. Or, make it a point to cut down on fried foods.

Tip 2: Think smaller
A key foundation for eating healthier is portion control. Over the past few decades, serving sizes have grown to huge amounts. One way to reduce your portions is to switch out your dinner plates for smaller plates. Think about moderation as you fill your plate. It can be especially hard to eat a normal-sized portion in a restaurant. Choose a starter or an appetizer instead of an entrée. Or, split a large main dish with a friend.

Tip 3: Eat your fiber
You can eat plenty of high-fiber foods – this means fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These are “good” carbs and are nutritious, as well as help fill you up. They are also relatively low in calories. These foods can provide important vitamins and minerals.

Tip 4: Everything in moderation
Well, mostly limit the bad things. We all know what they are – unfortunately most of them taste really good! Limit your intake of sugary foods, refined grains like white bread and salty snacks. In addition, cut down on trans fat, which comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils and many fast foods. It’s also important to cut down on animal fat. It is high in saturated fat. Cutting down on fats may even help you lower your cholesterol. Also, if you drink alcohol, it should be done in moderation.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a cookie, slice of cake or some potato chips. It just means to eat these things in moderation.

Tip 5: Add more fruits and vegetables
Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. You should be eating 5 servings or more a day. Try to add more color in your fruits and vegetables – include greens, oranges and yellows, as well as purples, blues and reds.

Tip 6: Take your time
Slow down and think of food as nourishment, rather than something you eat between meetings or grab on the go. Sit down and eat at the table. If you eat in front of the TV or computer, you aren’t thinking about how much food you are actually consuming. Eating with others leads to conversation and helps you take breaks as you eat. Also, if you eat more slowly, your body will tell you when you’re full.

Tip 7: Keep it all in balance
The best tip for healthy eating is to keep it all in balance. Eat a wide variety of foods and think about smaller portion sizes. Try to add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.

And remember to take small step and make changes to your eating habits over time. The next thing you know you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better!