Portion Control: How to Tell If You’re Eating Too Little or Too Much

Everyone aspires to have the perfect diet, the magic solution that’ll help you lose or keep weight off, the perfect formula for longer life and more energy. The reality is that there is no simple fix or shortcut to healthy eating. The best way to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle is to eat balanced and maintain proper portion control.

Most people think portion control means eating too much, but it’s also possible to eat too little. Controlling your portions is critical for getting the proper amounts of different nutrients daily. Portion control also helps regulate your caloric intake and balance your diet. Instead of simply eating less or any other form of food restriction, portion control is a way to enjoy all the foods you love but in a manner that won’t compromise your health. Portion control is a matter of balance: involving the foods you love, the foods that will give you the nutrients you need, and the foods you might not eat enough.

There are several strategies you can employ to help control your portions at mealtimes:

1) Don’t skip meals
We often associate eating healthier with eating less. Whether that means eating less frequently or less food, this mindset can be damaging and have adverse effects. Skipping meals sounds like a good way to remove calories from your diet; however, the longer you wait to eat, the more food you’ll need. Delayed eating can lead to larger, unhealthy portions when you finally decide to eat. In order to prevent this, make sure to eat three balanced meals every day with limited snacking in between. Also, stick with a routine and try to eat meals around the same time each day.

2) Maintain a healthy level of hunger
Making sure you maintain a comfortable hunger is important when it comes to portion control. When you let your hunger get to the point where it is uncomfortable, you are more likely to overeat and overindulge often with unhealthy food choices.

3) Skip the salt
Try to reduce the amount of salt in your meals. Salt in your food can impact your appetite, as it is an appetite stimulant. Meaning, the more salty food you eat, the more you’ll want to eat even though you are already full. Paying attention to the content of your meals is just as necessary as paying attention to your meal sizes.

4) Use a portion plate
There are many different portion control tools available for those who want to start managing their portion sizes. One of the most common is a sectional plate that illustrates what size portions each nutrient should take up on your plate. Additionally, try using small bowls for meals or smaller cups for drinks.

“Take it one meal at a time,” said Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Gale Pearson of TPMG Nutrition Services. “Try not to skip meals or wait too long to eat.”

Even taking the time to think about your portions is a step in the right direction. Healthy eating is really a matter of balance and it looks different for different people. There is no one-size-fits-all diet, however, as long as you remember to be thoughtful with your portions and keep a balanced and diverse range of foods with all different kinds of nutrients, you’re headed on the right path for healthy eating. To learn more about portion control and healthy eating, make an appointment with a registered dietician at TPMG Nutrition Services.

Gale Pearson

About Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES

​Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 25 years of experience working with patients on dietary and nutrition wellness planning. Gale received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University and her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Howard University.

With extensive experience in nutrition counseling, Gale works with her patients to develop strategies to improve their eating habits and lifestyles, in turn helping them to manage their weight and medical conditions. She credits witnessing her patients’ symptoms and overall health improvement as a result of the lifestyle changes as one of the most gratifying and rewarding aspects of her career.

At TPMG Nutrition Services in Newport News and Williamsburg, Gale provides one-on-one consultations, nutrition and weight management counseling, and diabetes education.

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