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Having a balanced diet is one of the fundamental ways to keep your body’s well-being. A healthy diet is not just about picking the right food to eat. It’s also about identifying the correct amount or size of your meal.
As much as malnutrition causes harm to the body, overeating can also impose negative effects on it. This is especially true when you take certain nutrients excessively over a long period.
Whether it is for losing weight or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, food portion control is essential. Read on as this article tackles the importance and ways of upholding portion control on your diet.
What is Portion Control?
First of all, portion control is a way of determining the right amount of food that you eat in a single sitting. It also involves choosing a healthy variation of food intake.
Portion size is quite different from a serving size. Portion size is the total amount of food that you eat in one meal. On the other hand, a serving size is the amount of a particular food recommended by government health agencies. However, these two are correlated as you have to be aware of the serving size to successfully uphold portion control.
Why is Portion Control Important?
To answer the primary concern of this article, here are the benefits of portion control that explain why it is vital to incorporate the idea into your diet.
1. Helps in Losing Weight Healthily
However, excess calories are stored in the body as fats. That being said, the number of calories is directly proportional to your weight. That is, the more calories you ingest, the more weight you gain, unless you’re doing workouts that could decrease those calories or burn the fats.
Naturally, if you are served with larger portions of food, you’ll likely ingest more calories from it. Eating smaller or balanced proportions helps in controlling the calorie count, thus contributing to effective weight loss.
Through this, you’ll need lesser activities and workouts to burn the stored calories. Obesity is a critical health concern commonly associated with other illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Therefore, it is crucial to pick the right kind and amount of food to maintain a physically fit body.
2. Better Digestion Process
Whenever you happen to excessively eat or ingest more than usual, do you feel bloated afterward? That is a sign that your digestive system is having a hard time processing your food, which is not a good thing.
Overeating can cause indigestion that is characterized by pain or discomfort in your upper abdomen. It may also be accompanied by heartburn and bloating. Consistent excessive food intake can damage the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) over time.
A normally functioning LES stops stomach acids from moving to the throat, which is when heartburn occurs. The greater the volume of food you eat, the more the stomach stretches. This will cause more pressure induced on the LES, thus disrupting its function.
Giving your digestive system a break between meals by consuming the right amount will ultimately make you and your stomach feel comfortable. It is better to be mindful of the quantity of the food you ingest to achieve proper digestion.
3. Controls Blood Sugar
If you don’t mind about the type and amount of food you eat, you’ll likely ingest more sugar. Most processed and packaged foods nowadays contain added sugar, which is not beneficial to the body. Overloading of glucose can create blood sugar imbalance that may further lead to insulin resistance.
Binge-eating of food, especially high-fat ones, can impair the body from regulating blood sugar effectively. Because of this, overeating does not only cause obesity, it could prompt the onset of diabetes as well.
With portion control, you’ll be able to manage the amount of glucose you take by selectively identifying which food to eat and how much of each is recommended for a balanced diet.
4. Improves Satiety
Satiety is the feeling of fullness after a meal. It suppresses hunger for a specific period, thus prompting you to eat less. You’d probably think that if you eat more, you’ll feel satiated for a longer time. But actually, if you eat that much food too quickly, you wouldn’t be able to notice that you’re stomach is already full.
Try to eat a smaller portion slowly and see if you still feel hungry readily. Many researchers are studying the correlation between the size of the food and the occurrence of hunger afterward.
Large portions don’t always mean more nutrients. It is better to eat moderate sizes that are high-quality, that is, with more essential nutrients packed in them. Regular and adequate amounts of protein, fats, and carbohydrates help in making you feel satiated.
5. Quality Over Quantity
Eating less does not necessarily mean missing out on essential nutrients. If done appropriately and adequately, it could actually urge you to take the most nutrients out of the minimal volume of ingredients.
Some dishes in large quantities often contain auxiliary substances, such as added sugar, excessive carbs, and calories. Most of them are needed by the body in a regulated amount.
Too much of which is unnecessary, if not harmful. Limiting and planning your diet will actually allow you to select which food could give you more essential nutrients in a lesser volume.
6. Saves You Money
Aside from the health benefits, portion control can also offer financial advantages. Sticking to a healthy and balanced diet is often deemed costly by other people since many healthy foods are somewhat pricey.
However, if you minimize or control the size, you’ll tend to save money. Basically, when you eat less, you’ll also spend less. Furthermore, it helps reduce food wastage and set your budget according to your meal plan with the desired proportions.
7. Promotes Discipline
When you have a goal and set of rules to follow, you tend to get more disciplined and responsible. Portion control is one way for you to be accountable for your own health. It urges you to be particular and mindful about what you eat. It is counted as a benefit as it contributes to your overall well-being.
Portion Control Ways and Tricks
After knowing the advantages of applying portion control, it’s now time to discover its ways. The list below enumerates the tips and tricks on successfully controlling the portions of the food you eat.
1. Plan Your Meal
Planning your desired recipes in advance helps in attaining consistency in adhering to the rules of portion control. Prepping your meals include dividing the portions into different containers and storing them properly.
Make sure to follow your plan to achieve the purpose of your preparation. Planning will also help you in determining which ingredients to buy and how much of each is needed.
When you plan your meal, ensure that each recipe has the proper proportions according to your choice and to the serving size recommended. View the dietary guidelines offered by different associations to help you discover the respective serving size concerning your age.
2. Measure Your Food Intake
The purpose of portion control is to specify the amount of food intake. Therefore, for a more effective output, it is just right to be meticulous about it. During preparation, measure the food according to the serving size desired.
Use tools, such as measuring cups, tablespoons, and food scales, to have accurate measurements. This may take time, but the benefit you get from it is worth it. That is why it is also advisable to prepare your meal beforehand for you to be able to grab and go in cases of busy schedules.
Consistent practice will gradually allow you to estimate rather than actually measure the food or ingredients. This will make the preparation easier and less time-consuming.
A useful idea for estimation is the hand method. Here are the estimations on the equivalent measurements and amount of nutrients taken through the hand method:
- 1 palm = a serving of protein (100 to 150 grams)
- Tip of an index finger = one teaspoon (5 grams equivalent to a serving of fats)
- 1 thumb = 1 tablespoon (15 grams)
- 1 cupped hand = one cup or a serving of carbs
3. Use Smaller Dishware
According to some studies, the size of the plates, spoons, and glasses can apparently influence how much food you eat. Large containers seem to make your food appear smaller. Subconsciously, because of this, you tend to get more servings and then overeat.
In its reverse manner, smaller plates or any dishware will make your food look fuller and will therefore trick your mind into thinking that you actually have more food. For consistency and easy tracking, you may also use the same dishware or maybe a different one but of the same size.
4. Read Food Product Labels
Another way to uphold portion control is by reading the labels on packaged foods. Since you did not prepare it yourself, you have to refer to the serving sizes displayed on the package. After recognizing the information on the labels, divide the food according to your desired proportions.
5. Add Extra Vegetables
Vegetables are mostly low in calories but high in fiber and other micronutrients beneficial to the body. Hence, it is recommended that if you’re going to overeat any, it should be veggies or, more specifically, non-starchy greens.
Fiber aids in digestion, while the micronutrients stored in vegetables help in preventing or overcoming certain deficiencies. This is the reason why salads are stapled dishes, especially when on a weight-loss diet. You may also add some greens and tomatoes to your sandwiches or pair your breakfast meal with some cooked veggies.
6. Drink Water Before Eating
Having a glass of water before eating is a nifty trick to make you eat less. This is because your body is sufficed with water to stop you from experiencing dehydration that is sometimes mistaken for hunger.
Drinking water before a meal creates a satiating effect, thus reducing your appetite. It will further prevent you from overeating and stick to the controlled food intake.
7. Set Aside a Portion of Your Meal
If you feel like you’re already full, but you still have remaining food on your plate, set it aside for later when you feel hungry again. Or even before you serve the food, you may also put aside a portion of it to avoid seconds that can happen instantly when the food is right in front of you.
Hunger sets in for about 20 to 30 minutes. With this in mind, wait for such a length of time, and you’ll realize you’re already satisfied and are not hungry anymore.
8. Eat Slowly
As previously said, hunger takes a certain amount of time to set in. Thus, it is advisable to eat your food slowly. Aside from the fact that eating in haste could impose indigestion, it could also prompt you to miss your hunger cues.
Additionally, you’ll also be able to savor each bite and enjoy your meal. Sit down and have your food. Minimize eating on the go or with distractions as it could make you less aware of getting full.
9. Avoid Eating Straight From a Container
When ordering from a food chain, it is smart to transfer only the preferred amount of food from its container to a smaller bowl or plate. Eating from a larger package tempts you to have an increased intake.
So, you should re-proportion the snack or meal to control the amount you eat. When eating outside, you may also ask for a half-portion of the dish. Some restaurants allow that request.
10. Be consistent
In every diet plan, consistency in adhering to the rules is necessary. You have to conform to the above ways and be responsible for the way you eat. Avoid mindless eating that could generally inflict harm to the body. Remember that every food is good when taken in moderation.