Practicing portion control can help you learn to be satisfied eating less food, which can help you both physically and financially. The Weight Control Information Network recommends that you learn the difference between a serving and a portion -- although those words are often used interchangeably -- a serving size is the amount of food listed on the nutrition facts of the label and a portion is the amount of food you choose to eat.
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Glucose and Insulin
Your body turns the foods you eat -- especially carbohydrates -- into glucose, your body's primary source of energy. When you eat a large portion of food, glucose levels rise quickly. When your bloodstream is flooded with glucose, your pancreas releases insulin to move that glucose into your cells for use. But the faster glucose levels rise, the more likely it is that your pancreas will produce too much insulin, leading to low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia. Your brain is tricked into thinking you need more glucose and you start to feel hungry, often with a craving for sugar. You can avoid this negative cycle of high and low blood sugar by eating small frequent meals. Eating smaller portions, but eating more often, will keep glucose and insulin levels stable.
Regulating glucose and insulin production usually reduces food cravings, because your body doesn't experience hypoglycemia. Eating smaller portions can curb cravings and help reduce overall caloric intake. Weight loss is simply a mathematical equation -- eat fewer calories than you burn and your body will breakdown stored fat to use as energy. Creating a calorie-deficit results in weight loss. To lose 1 pound of fat, you need to trim 3,500 calories from your diet. Cutting 500 calories every day should result in losing 1 pound every week.
Eating smaller portions can help you physically and financially. One of the ways to practice portion control at restaurants is to order kid-sized meals, which are generally less expensive than adult meals. Because portion sizes at restaurants can be two, three or more servings, when the food is delivered to your table, ask your server for a take-away container immediately and remove at least half of the food from your plate. Although you will be paying for one meal, by taking at least half of your entree home, you will be getting two -- or more -- meals for the price of one.
An easy way to learn portion control is to compare food portion sizes to every day objects. For example, a serving of baked potato is the size of your fist and a serving of cheese is the size of a piece of dice and a serving of peanut butter -- which is 2 tablespoons -- is the size of a ping-pong ball. While you adjust to eating less, switch to smaller plates; the same amount of food looks like more when the plate is smaller. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the more food you are served, the more food you eat. If you buy food in bulk, divide it into smaller snack-size bags in advance, which will make it easier to eat only one portion at a time.