5 Practical Tips For Portion Control

Parul Dube

September 29, 2021

Our eating habits need help; we consume fast food, high-calorie desserts, sweet drinks, and more. This unhealthy food habit induces obesity, and most adults and 1 in 3 children in most developed countries are overweight or obese. However, you can change these eating habits. To start with, opt for a healthier lifestyle. It is essential to understand and learn about some of the worst food offenders and replace them with healthier choices. One of the tricks to changing the way you eat for good is portion control.

Portion control should be a lifestyle. You can expect to lose weight if you begin cutting down your portions. It may be challenging initially, and especially being consistent with portion control in all your meals. But within a few weeks, you would start seeing results, and that is extremely rewarding. Of course, it would help if you consistently ate smaller portions of higher-calorie foods to keep extra weight gone for good. Here are five tips on controlling portion size every time you are eating at home or eating out.

5 Tips for Portion Control

1. Load Up on Colourful Veggies

It is the basic and the most important way to control portion size. Loading up on veggies helps you shed those extra kilos and helps improve your overall nutritional status. In addition, you do not have to compromise on your bowel movements or skin health or hair health when on a weight loss journey. 

Let a good 50% of your plate be full of vegetables. More the colours on your plate, the better your antioxidant flavonoid and polyphenol intake. Make sure you include them even in your mid-meal snacks. It can be as simple as vegetable sticks with hummus or guacamole or hung curd dip instead of vapours and mayo. Starting small will take you a long way in your fitness journey.

2. Eat Before You are too Hungry

The fundamental reason why somebody would overeat is because of a lack of discipline. Being disciplined towards meal timings and, in general, towards having a schedule is always good. Our biological clock, the circadian rhythm, works best when you have a plan in place. We mostly feel hungry around the same time every day, but we do not eat on time because of work meetings or other reasons. 

When we realise, we are hungry and sit down for a meal; we are probably famished. Low blood sugar levels coupled with dehydration will make us polish off the plate in no time. Before we realise it, we would have overeaten. Then the guilt factor kicks in, signalling the body to store more fat and becomes a vicious cycle to break. The best way to tackle this is to eat before you are too hungry. 

Eat before you get into a lunchtime meeting instead of eating after the session. If you do not understand your body signals too well, start maintaining meal timings diligently. Also, eating slowly and taking a long time to finish a meal is another simple yet practical way to cut down bigger portion sizes.

3. Don’t Eat from a Bag or Box Directly

Are you someone who has the habit of snacking directly from the packet or bag, or box? If so, this could be the biggest reason why you are overeating at snack time. It is especially true when you’re watching or working while snacking. 

Research at Cornell University concluded that people ate 50% more when given no visual cues on portion sizes. So, if you cannot do without your favourite chips or cookies, divide the content into small serving sizes of say five to ten beforehand. This way, when you are hungry or eating out of boredom directly from a bag or box, you will not end up eating the entire portion.

4. Take a Tour of Your Buffet

If you’re someone who ends up with buffet meals as part of your work profile and finds portion control the biggest challenge in such instances, we have a simple yet practical tip for you. Take a lap and look at all the foods your buffet offers before you start serving food on your plate. Research at Cornell University concluded that people often fill two-thirds of their plate with the first three foods they encounter in a buffet. So it could be irrespective of how healthy or unhealthy these foods are. 

So, taking a stroll till the last food option in the buffet will help you consciously choose the foods you like and save you from eating foods that you do not enjoy or would like to avoid.

5. End Your Meal with Fennel Seeds or a Cup of Peppermint Tea

Most of us go weak in our knees when we see a desert in the buffet or on the menu card, right? But, if there is one habit you would have to get rid of, that is ending a meal only after a dessert or popping in a piece of chocolate after a meal. Sugar is addictive. It is tough to let go of this one. 

We have a simple and effective tip for managing your sugar craving. End your meal with fennel seeds. Isn’t this age-old practice in most Indian households? But, with the significant western influence on our food choices and methods, we have lost touch with this. Just half a teaspoon of fennel seeds after a meal not just helps you curb your sugar craving but also aids in digestion, prevents acid regurgitation. It also enables you to feel fresh and active after a heavy meal. 

If you prefer a hot beverage after a meal to stay active, skip the dessert and sip on some warm peppermint or spearmint tea. You could even try DIY cinnamon, cumin, or basil tea to support good digestion and avoid unnecessary emptying up on empty calories.


Practising mindfulness, which is, in turn, a result of eating without distraction, is an age-old Indian food wisdom. It is practical and effective. We are so engrossed in our phones or watching television that we pay the slightest attention to what we are eating and the quantities we eat. Say no to distraction while eating. Instead, eat with all your senses and start using smaller serving plates and spoons, along with taking a long time to finish a meal.

While there are many tips and steps available on the internet to control portions, it is always advisable to consult a diet professional. With portion control and the right balance of nutrients, weight loss can become a cakewalk. 

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About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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