I talk a lot about healthy foods a lot but being careful of portion sizes is very important, regardless of what you eat. For most Australians dinner is the biggest meal of the day. After a long day at work there is nothing like sitting down and relaxing to a hearty serving of tasty food. And if the food is really good then who can resist seconds?
Many clients I speak to admin that controlling portion sizes, particularly at dinner, is a challenge. What can make this difficult is the fact that our bodies get used to a certain level of fullness, and anything less may seem un-fulfilling. In this blog I provide some useful tips to help reduce portion sizes at dinner without sacrificing enjoyment.
Why portion control matters
But firstly lets briefly consider why large servings at dinner can be a problem? Because the evening is usually when we need energy the least. It’s usually at dinner when our body starts to unwind and relax, both physically and mentally. Therefore our energy requirements drop. Providing an excess supply of energy in the form of calories when we are unwinding seems a little counterproductive. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like and prince, and dinner like a pauper”, it actually really good advice because it reflects our energy demands. Overeating at dinner can lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight, because most of what we eat will be stored rather than burned.
4 tips to reduce portion size at dinner
1. Eat more during the day. Ok so this is really obvious, but its probably the best way to eat less at night time. Start with a good breakfast and mid meal snacks and your extreme hunger at nighttime will turn into nothing more that a generous appetite, and the result will be less food.
2. Use smaller plates and bowls. Studies have shown that our brains can’t tell the difference between 20% fluctuations in portion sizes. In other words if we serve 20% less food we wont know the difference. A simple way to trick your brain further is using smaller plates and bowls. Saving 20% may just be enough to get the scales moving in the right direction.
3. Eat mindfully. Mindful eating basically means thinking more about your food. The taste and texture of each individual mouthful. This usually means eating slower, but this is simply the byproduct rather than the intention. Becoming more attuned to food is a powerful way to enhance the enjoyment of a meal whilst eating less.
4. Wait 5 minutes before seconds. Before diving into a second helping, give yourself time to register fullness. Often this is all it takes to realize that you actually don’t feel like any more. The other option is to put the leftovers in the fridge immediately after serving up. This will take away the temptation.