Weight watching: Portion-Control Tips
Imagine your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant. Now picture it 75% smaller. Would you be a happy customer? It’s easy to understand why the food industry tends to serve us way more food than is necessary: We all love to feel like we’re getting more bang for our money. But that’s also why it’s important to take responsibility for our own portions and to help kids learn to do the same.
Here are some tips on portion control.
- Explain the concept of the “divided plate” to your kids and use it as often as you can.
- Serve food on smaller plates so meals look larger.
- When cooking large batches or storing leftovers, separate them into smaller portions before you put them in the fridge or freezer. That way, when your family reaches in, they’ll automatically grab a portion that makes sense.
- Dish out meals in the kitchen and avoid bringing the whole pot to the table. Not keeping the food at arm’s length can make your family think twice about reaching for seconds.
- Try single-serving sizes to help your family learn what an appropriate portion is.
- Aim for three scheduled healthful meals and one or two healthy snacks throughout the day. Skipping a meal often leads to overeating at the next one.
- Add more fruits to your family’s diet, especially at the start of a meal, which can help control hunger and give a sense of fullness while controlling calorie intake.
- Try not to rush through meals. Go slowly and give everyone a chance to feel full before serving more. Family sit-down meals also provide valuable opportunities to reconnect with one another.
- Be aware that most restaurant portions may be two, three, or more times the recommended serving size. Try sharing meals, ordering an appetizer as a main dish, ordering kids’ meals (especially at fast-food restaurants), or packing up half to take home before you begin to eat.
- Don’t serve kids large portions or expect them to clean their plates. Not only do kids need less food than adults, but studies show that toddlers do a better job controlling portion size when they’re allowed to serve themselves.
If you preach to your kids about portion control, chances are they’ll tune out . A better way to go is to get them actively involved in figuring out how much is a reasonable amount to eat.