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portion control food

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“Eat when you’re hungry; stop when you’re full.” I don’t remember who gave me that advice, and I also don’t know what planet they lived on, because eating is never that simple. For many, many reasons, we can be out of touch with our hunger cues. As humans, we’re social eaters, which means many of our meals are set based on the “normal” time to have them, and not necessarily based on our body’s clocks. You might just have to eat lunch at noon because that’s when your lunch break is, but that may not be when you’re hungry, so that can throw your entire appetite schedule off for the day. When we eat with others, we chat, and lose track of how much we consume. Then there are ingredients we consume today in processed foods that mess with our hunger cues, and even hormonal imbalances that can make it difficult to assess hunger levels. It’s a mess. So “Eat when you’re hungry; stop when you’re full” is a pipe dream for many.


When you can’t fully rely on your brain or stomach to tell you when to keep eating or stop eating, you may need to lean on your eyes. Visual cues play a big role in our eating habits, too. What your food looks like can determine how much of it you eat, and much of that comes down to how food is plated and served. Here are plating and serving tips that help with portion control.


portion control food

Source: BRETT STEVENS / Getty

Start with smaller serving platters

It all starts with the serving of the food. Before food even hits individual plates, there are things you can do to help you put less on plates, like using smaller serving platters. If you have set out five-quart platters, then you’re going to feel pressure to fill those serving platters. The larger the platter, the easier it is to look at it and think, “We’ve barely made a dent in that,” and keep eating. You may have made tons of food in pots and pans to eat for days, but you don’t need to transfer them to equally massive serving platters. Smaller serving platters give the visual cue of, “We’ve eaten a lot of food already” since they empty out quicker.

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