Currently about two thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. While there are a host of factors impacting weight and waistlines, a big contributor is over-eating. The average American adult consumes about 300 more calories per day, or about 100,000 more calories per year, than they did thirty or so years ago. Over the last few decades our portion sizes have gotten out of control. In fact, many restaurants have even started to lure customers in by touting their "generous" portions. Use the simple tips below to keep those portions in check.
1) Size Matters - Plate size that is. The size of the average dinner plate has increased by about 30% since the early 1980's. Unfortunately, ideal portions on an oversized plate tend to "appear" small. Eat on a smaller plate if you can. If a larger plate is the only option fill some of that extra plate real estate by serving your food out flat to make the plate look fuller. Avoid layering and stacking foods high on the plate. Fill most of the plate with nutrient dense, low calorie vegetables, and ditch the salad plate/bowl and put the salad right on the dinner plate.
2) Divide and Conquer - Use small snack bags or storage containers to portion out snacks and treats the day you bring them home from the store. When you are hungry for that snack or treat grab one of the already pre-portioned containers and have at it. Studies have shown that people unknowingly eat more when they are eating from a larger container or bag.
3) Order of Operations - Eat vegetables and low-calorie, high-nutrient dense foods first. By filling up on these options early, you'll be less likely to overdo it on the heavy starches and sweets. If you are eating out, avoid the basket of bread or chips, or limit yourself by setting a rule such as allowing yourself to eat one bread roll for every glass of water you drink, or no more than one roll for every 15 minutes. This way even if you are peaking on the hunger scale you're not shoveling down baskets of bread or chips before your main meal even arrives.
4) 50/50 - If you are eating out at a restaurant try to split an entree with someone you are with. More often than not restaurant portions are far too large for the average person. If splitting with someone else isn't an option ask for a "to-go" container when you order your food and slide half of your meal in the container before you take that first bite. And no, the idea is not to chow down your to-go food in the car on the way home from the restaurant.
5) Win the Race - Think of the old saying "slow and steady wins the race" when it comes to eating. It takes time for the satiety signals that tell us we are full to reach the brain. Eat slowly and wait 10-20 minutes before going back for seconds to allow time for those hunger and satiety signals to effectively communicate.