One of the most important skills I’ve picked up during my weight loss journey is the gradual sizing down of the portions I eat. I used to eat two eggs for breakfast; now, just two. I used to eat the king-sized candy bars, but now I eat one or two of the fun size bars instead. I would eat gobs of salad dressing before, and that’s now down to two tablespoons with the help of my measuring gadgets. I used to eat with abandon at buffet restaurants, but now I steer clear of them to avoid the temptation.
When I first started on Weight Watchers, my biggest fear was being hungry. I thought of Weight Watchers as a diet, and to me, that meant deprivation. But two funny things happened: first, I found that when I picked the best foods in appropriate quantities I didn’t feel hungry or deprived. Then, I came to realize I really didn’t need as much food as I thought I did. (I also don’t think of Weight Watchers as a diet now, but rather a way to train myself to eat better.)
Here are some things I’ve learned to improve portion control:
Bring it down over time. When I first started Weight Watchers, the program started you out with a certain daily eating allowance that became slightly smaller with every 10 lbs. you lost. I’m not sure if the program is still set up that way for anyone (it isn’t for me), but consider doing something like that with your weight loss efforts. You will ultimately train yourself to eat less, and bring your eating more in line with where it should be.
Use measuring devices. I would not have been able to keep myself honest without measuring spoons, cups, and a food scale. These items are key to gaining an accurate perspective on what 3 oz. of chicken or 2 tablespoons of salad dressing really looks like. The numbers don’t lie.
Not finishing everything. One piece of advice on eating out and maintaining weight loss that you may hear is to ask for half of your order to be packaged up before you ever get to eat. I’ve never done that, but I do try to control it on my own. If I get a big sandwich, I save half for later or, if I’m hungry, I eat one half as-is and discard the bread when I eat the innards of the second half. I also don’t force myself to clean my plate anymore, or to finish dessert.
Portion control is hard, because most foods a packaged in gigantic quantities that skew our perceptions of how much we should be eating. But no one will argue with the fact that to lose weight, you have to eat less. Coupling an accurate perception of portion sizes with a mind to only eat as much as you need physically, as opposed to mentally, is the best way to get your weight number trending downward.