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If You’re Looking to Eat Smaller Portions...

  • Eating

Assuming you generally overeat, becoming a “normal” eater will be easier if you reduce portion sizes. After eating smaller portions for a while, they will seem like just the right amount of food for you. Over time, less will become the new normal.

According to “Portion size key in tackling obesity, says study” by James Gallagher (BBC News, 9/1515), a “review of 61 studies provides ‘the most conclusive evidence to date’ that portion size affects how much we unwittingly eat.” The study makes the point that portion size has risen over the decades, be it bagels or chicken pot pies. One way to reduce consumption is to use smaller plates and glasses and to buy smaller packets of our favorite foods. The article says—in a lovely British understated way, I might add— that “People seem to be reluctant to leave or waste food and so consume what they are served or find larger portions more attractive.”

Overeaters are generally “reluctant” to leave food on their plates, often feeling driven to consume whatever is in front of them. I’ve written a great deal about what goes on to produce this reaction. The feeling that overeaters experience when they see food left on their plates is tension which rises the longer they gaze at the food and tell themselves not to eat it. Here are some tips to help you stop eating when you’re full or satisfied.
1. When you feel yourself approaching full or satiated, remove the food from your line of sight. If you see it, it’s more likely that you’ll eat it.
2. Reduce bodily tension. Think, why would you feel anxious about doing something to take care of your body, knowing full well you’ll be uncomfortable if you overeat? Pair the anxiety with finishing your food and pair pleasure with stopping at enough.
3. If you feel deprived, remind yourself that you can have this food another time and that you can eat more but choose not to.
4. If you think this will work, keep the food on your plate and do relaxation exercises and talk positively to yourself until you can look at the food and not want it. Consider how good it feels to have eaten the right amount for you and detach from negative feelings about leaving food on your plate. Start associating discomfort or shame with that behavior and pride with leaving some food on your plate every meal.
5. Make portion management (I don’t care for the word “control”) a priority. The more you practice eating just enough, the better you’ll feel in mind and body. Underscore feeling proud when you toss out food or don’t clean your plate. Make sure to focus on pride. Research tells us that intensely focusing on the positive feeling when you take care of yourself will prime you to do it again and again.