9 Portion Control Tips To Help You Eat Less (& Slim Down)


Written by: Shelby Torrese - Nov. 12, 2020

Portion control  

Food can be my best friend at times. Okay, a lot of the times. And I’m completely okay with that. I LOVE to love food. But then, the food coma hits. What a terrible predicament I find myself in. When I was younger, it wasn’t an issue, but as I age, I realize that I shouldn’t be in a food coma the majority of the time I’m eating—no matter if I’m eating veggies or pizza. 

I eat healthy 80% of the time, but still, I often find myself overeating. Sometimes, keeping the pounds off isn’t just about what you eat, it’s about how much you’re eating—a plate full of broccoli or a plate full of french fries, doesn’t matter.

Coming to this realization had me taking a hard look at my portions, and in doing so, I was able to teach myself how to eat less. If you’ve ever found yourself in the same boat, check out these easy-to-apply portion control tips for overeaters!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

How To Eat Less & Still Feel Full

Not all calories are created equally. Eating less while still feeling satisfied and full is all about the types of food you’re eating. If you find yourself in a situation where there aren’t too many healthy options, consider eating smaller portions of the main event, like a half slice of pizza at a kids’ birthday party, and then pair that with a side salad or any small side they have to offer. This will keep you full without the guilt, rather than having 2 or 3 slices of pizza.

If you have full reign over what you eat, try these portion control tips: Incorporate a solid mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This fool-proof macro equation will keep you full and satisfied.

Psychology of eating

While food is one of our basic needs as humans, everyone has a different relationship with it. Some people have fond memories of cooking and eating with family, and it’s become sentimental. Others have a negative, restrictive relationship with food due to past abuse or trauma, or self-inflicted disorders. One person may eat to cope, while others may simply use food as fuel, with no pleasure involved whatsoever.

Research shows that eating habits and portion sizes may alter depending on whether an individual is alone versus social eating. Food and dietary choices are also strongly influenced by environmental factors. Everything from lighting to colors in a restaurant can alter our choices. [1]

So the first step to any healthy relationship, is finding out how you feel about something without outside influence. Ask yourself what foods you enjoy, what foods make you feel bad, how much fills you, and what leaves you feeling hungry, etc.

Understanding the gut-brain pathway

The gut and our brain are like inseparable twin sisters. Even when they are apart, they’re still communicating in that crazy, telepathic way that only twins are gifted with doing. When one needs some uplifting, the other is already on its way with their favorite pick-me-up treat. The #twinning victory dances are truly exemplary of the gut-brain pathway dynamic. Magically in sync.

The dance doesn’t just happen, though. We have our enteric nervous system (ENS) to thank. Our ENS is located in the lining of our gastrointestinal tract and contains over 100 million nerve cells. So if you have ever thought to yourself, “I think I have a sensitive stomach”… no kidding! [2]

Our ENS is responsible for digestion, the releasing of catabolic enzymes, and surrounding activities like blood flow. While, yes, the brain is the outgoing, overachiever of the two, the gut does just as much heavy-lifting, but in a more introverted manner. They both work to regulate hormones, like serotonin and even stress hormones. They work in harmony to ensure that they’re supporting each other, because they know if one of them is thriving, the other shouldn’t be struggling. [3]

When tackling how to eat less, the gut-brain pathways is one communication stream we should heavily tap into. Tying it into the psychology of eating, when your brain is saying one thing, like “Pizza will make this stressful day better!” and your gut is saying “Dairy doesn’t make me feel my best,” it’s up to you to make a decision. When you listen to the gut and brain, you can more easily come to the conclusion that a) you’ve had a long day and b) your body deserves to be taken care of. By choosing a healthy, well-balanced meal you will convey the message that you are worthy, and in control, to your body. The more you strengthen that trust with your gut-brain pathway, the more easily you will be able to make good decisions for your body.

9 Portion Control Tips 

1. Use smaller plates and bowls

If it’s on a plate in front of me, I’ll eat it. Big, small, blue, red, doesn’t matter. By using smaller kitchenware, you won’t be able to pile your plate quite as high. Forced portion control is a good place to start when training your brain, and belly, on eating smaller portions. 

2. Incorporate more protein

Remember, not all calories are created equally. Eating smarter doesn’t mean 24/7 salads, it’s about eating smaller portions! You will be just as full after a single serving of protein and veggies (think grilled chicken, broccoli, and carrots) as you would with two servings of starch-heavy carbohydrates (like french fries or pasta). 

3.Reduce your grains and carbohydrate intake

Eating big bowls of rice or starchy vegetables like potatoes are doing you more harm than you realize. Also, not all starches are created equally. Complex carbohydrates, such as quinoa, enter the body at 2 calories per minute, whereas sugar-y, “empty calorie” starches, like oily potato chips, enter the bloodstream at a whopping 30 calories per minute! [4]

4. Mindfully chew your food

You’ve heard it before⁠—do one thing at a time. Eating is no exception. When you can mindfully eat and chew your food, really taking in every flavor and crunch, you will be more aware of your body’s internal, “We’re satisfied!” cues. 

5. Stay hydrated

Drinking more water, and staying properly hydrated is a great tip for eating smaller portions. This is because oftentimes, our hunger hormone is really just saying our body is thirsty. The trick to deciphering hunger versus thirst is to drink a full 8 ounces of water and wait 30 minutes. If you’re still hungry, go for the snack. If not, you were just thirsty! [5]

6. Up your veggies

This may be the most important of my portion control tips. Vegetables are high in fiber, water, and nutrients, but low in calories, making them the perfect food for weight management and weight loss, without the negative, restrictive effects. [6]

7. Know your type

Do you need snacks or can you eat 3 meals a day and be OK? Knowing your body type and meal style is important so you know how to portion out your meals and how to eat less. A person that only has 3 meals a day should portion differently than someone who has 4 or 5 smaller meals per day.

8. Slow it down

Whenever I go out to dinner with friends, I’m always the first one to finish my food. I look around and my fellow table mates are not even halfway done. Talk about embarrassing! Hey, what can I say, I LOVE food, remember? Studies show that eating slower, chewing your food more, and waiting to even gather a forkful of food until you’re done with your last plays a major role in eating less! Giving your brain and belly time to digest what is happening (literally), you will be better equipped to pass on seconds. [7] These portion control tips, this one in particular, have helped me immensely on how to eat less! 

9. Exercise

When wondering how to eat less, getting moving is an amazing way to naturally do so. When you exercise, your body releases all the different kinds of happy hormones that make you feel more confident, and naturally want to nourish your body properly. Some studies even show that regular, aerobic exercise helps reduce overall unwanted hunger cravings. [8]

10. When in doubt, call in backup

You can exercise, use smaller plates, and drink all the water in the world in an attempt to improve your self-control. Still, if you’re struggling, recognize it and just ask for support. Just like the gut and brain are constantly reaching out for help, call in backup when necessary! There are amazing supplements available to help curb cravings and reduce unwanted hunger. Super Youth’s Mutl-Collagen Peptides are a great way to help you answer the question on how to eat less, because it contains filling protein that helps you eat less throughout the day, without even trying! Call it your new best friend, it’ll be strict when you need it to 😉. 

The Bottom Line On Eating Smaller Portions

When wondering how to eat less, check in with how you feel after every meal. You can follow all the portion control tips above, but if you’re unhappy after every meal—physically, emotionally, mentally—it’s time for a change. Remember, everyone is different, so be kind to yourself throughout the learning process, and find acceptance in any downfalls. Refer to these tips when you need a little support, and ask a friend to hold you accountable for your goals. You may just inspire them to tackle goals of their own!