6 Easy ways to cut portions

Jen Klein

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It likely started slowly over time — your portion sizes, the amount of food you became accustomed to eating, grew. A lot. Now that you're thinking about eating healthier, it's time to address those larger portion sizes. It's time to shrink them. But how?

Woman cooking pasta

In a world where "bigger is better," it can be hard to embrace that smaller is often better on the plate. It's better for your calorie intake, better for overall health, better for your waistline and better for your food budget!

It's not hard, however, to shrink your portion sizes. A few simple acts can reduce your portion sizes and food intake, often dramatically! Even when cooking for a family, you can adjust portion sizes to healthier levels for all of you.

1. Make less food

It sounds so obvious, and it is. When you are making dinner, don't be generous with your ingredients. Whether you call it cooking for a teenager or planning for leftovers, you're likely making too much. Check the quantities in your recipes and don't make extra. If the recipe calls for a pound of chicken breasts, don't scale up for two pounds. If your teenager is still hungry at the end of the meal, he or she can make a sandwich.

2. Measure

Try measuring out certain elements of your meals. Actually measure a half-cup of pasta or rice before putting it on your plate, for example, or weigh the protein before you serve it. At first it will look like so little, but over time you will become accustomed to these smaller, more appropriate portions.

3. Use a smaller plate

An easy visual trick to eat less is to use a small plate. Instead of getting out the big dinner plates, try serving on smaller salad plates and use bread and butter plates for salad. Your eye will still see a full plate!

4. Pre-portion snacks

If snacking is your bugaboo, try pre-portioning snacks into plastic bags as soon as you get the snack home from the market. Read the label of your favorite cracker to determine identified portion size and put that amount of crackers into bags. That way you can grab your quick snack without over-grabbing.

5. Drink a (large) glass of water

Everytime you eat — whether breakfast, dinner or a snack — drink a glass of water first. It will help make you feel fuller to begin with and hopefully head off biting off more than you should chew.

6. Put a timer at the table

Whenever you sit down to eat, help ensure that you are fully enjoying your food rather than rushing through it by turning over an hourglass-style one-minute sand timer each time you take a bite. Chew your food for a full 30 seconds and wait a full minute before taking another bite. Consciously identify flavors and textures as you chew to help those seconds pass. You'll be full before you know it — and maybe even before the food is gone from your plate!

These small ways may seem onerous to start, but after a few short days, your body, your belly and your mind will begin to be accustomed to the smaller portions. You'll be eating healthier and enjoying it more before you know it.

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