The Truth About Portion Control

Portion Control

So many people say to me that they ‘have no control’ over how much they eat or describe themselves as ‘greedy’ about food, “If I have one slice I have to eat it all”. Does this sound like you? Well if it does then you aren’t alone. How many times have you been on a calorie controlled diet and white-knuckled it all the way through? Portion control is one of the hardest things for many people and there are so many different ways to do it. You have to find the one that suits where you are in your life right now!


The problem with diets is that when we are ‘on’ one, we are given an equation to calculate how much we ‘should’ be eating. The trouble is it simply is not normal to expect your body to have the exact same energy needs every, single, day! We do different things, our body goes through cycles, how much you need to eat and what is driving your appetite depends on SO MUCH MORE than that equation!


I am a short person. At 5ft 2 I am told that my energy requirements are 1500 calories-1800 if I want to lose body fat. Now I spent years and years on various diets and fitness plans and not once did that amount of calories satisfy me. I thought I was greedy, why can’t I just eat like everyone else? I started to think it was me! Now I can’t stand the words ‘portion control’ because it is associated with guilt and shame if it’s a ‘big’ one and restriction and disappointment if it’s a ‘correct’ one. In reality a portion is just a quantity and food is just food. Not good or bad!


If you are trying to find a way to be healthier and lose weight without dieting then start by doing a deep dive into what YOU feel and need. Think about what will really satisfy you. What drives your food choices and how much you eat? Your emotions? Your mind? Your body? The truth is it is different for every single person. In order to find what really works for you then you have to take a deeper look at how you want to approach your ‘portion control’! (lets never use those words again).


Lets take a look at weighing food. If you are reading this then it is likely you have been on your fair share of diets. You probably know the calorific value of everything you like to eat and everything you don’t! You might have spent hundreds of hours logging food and tracking it on apps like My Fitness Pal (which can be a fantastic tool). The thing is if that is making you happy and it works for you then GREAT! But it doesn’t mean that what works for you now will work forever.


Our health is a totally dynamic process and at different periods in our lives, different things work. It doesn’t mean you have failed, it simply means you have to move with the times.


Take the mindful approach to portions. To chew our food a thousand times and stop as soon as you don’t need any more. Well this is what a lot of people perceive that approach to mean. But to really be mindful about what you are eating you have to take into account all forms of mindfulness. For example, I know that if I stop eating as soon as I am slightly full, I will be hungry within a couple of hours. If I eat till I am genuinely satisfied then I will last longer. Now I also know that much as I would like to eat 6 meals a day, I can’t be bothered, its not who I am so I need to make sure I eat enough to get me to my next meal. See where I’m going with this?


The meal prepping approach to portions also works well for some people. At one point in my life it actually worked for me but it is not the right fit for where I am right now and that’s ok too! The problem I had in the end was time, effort, energy and I never felt like eating that same food. I hate eating something twice in a row. As a chef it was totally not in alignment with who I am as a person. Some people find this really helpful.


You have to become the master of figuring out where you are in your journey so you can plan for the next stage!


One of the best ways to eat better is to simply balance your plate. Protein, fat, carbohydrate (yes they aren’t the devil) and always try to include a vegetable! This way allows you to get all the right foods and feel full for longer. To do this it can be helpful to use the palm method as a guide. This is simply a way to use your hands as a guide to measure your food. If you are trying to stop dieting but afraid to lose control then this is a great way to keep in touch with how much you are eating without being obsessive about it.


Protein – palm size (the thickness and size of your palm without fingers)

Carbs – cupped hands (both hands cupped together)

Fat – thumb

Vegetables – as much as you can


Especially if you are starting out on your weight loss journey this approach allows you to eyeball your portions without having to weigh and measure everything. Ideally you would aim to eat this plate three times a day with two half size balanced portions in between. For a lot of people this is simply too much food prep and not that practical so I make those plates bigger! I add the extra half portion on to any meal I know I will be hungry for! You have to be flexible. If you are hungry eat!


Whatever approach you choose, it isn’t really about how much you are eating. Ultimately it is about what is driving those choices and finding a solution that actually works FOR you and not AGAINST you! The commitment you should make to yourself is not to try everything until the weight comes off but rather to embark on a journey to discover what truly works for you so that you can create your own healthy lifestyle that works for you!


There are so many ways to regulate our food intake but until we know why we eat what we eat, when we eat it then we are flying blind. Next time you have a portion you think is greedy, ask yourself why you think that was? Did you skip meals all day? Was it comfort eating? Is there that one food you have no control over? Then and only then can you start to take control of what you eat.


Measuring your food is a good tool for some people and for some periods in your life but it is not for everyone or forever. The real control of portions comes from identifying what is driving you to make the choices that you make.


As always, drop me comment below, plus don’t forget to join my private Facebook Group if you haven’t done so already……and remember The Full-Bodied Evolution Members Club has a wealth of materials and a growing community of like-minded people to help you on your weight loss journey! Plus, you can always find me on both Instagram and Pinterest for more lifestyle food and fitness tips!

….and don’t forget to listen to The Full-Bodied Evolution Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify!

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