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Do you often overeat? Do you feel physically uncomfortable and depressed after overeating? If yes, then portion control is must for you. Isn’t it silly that now we fail to understand how much to eat? Look at babies, if they are not hungry, you will never be able to feed them an extra spoon. But even being adult and mature we lack in this basic sensitivity. We look for portion control tools, portion control diet and what not. Yes, we have mastered making simple things complicated.


What is portion control?

Portion control is a method of limiting your daily calorie intake. It is all about measuring food as per their calorie, carbohydrate and fat and deciding the serving amount. Basically in another word it ruin the entire fun of enjoying meal. Correct?

Portion control would not be required if we could have able to say NO to food at the right time. Now what is the right time? It depends on you, your hunger which again depends on your physical and mental state. But it is clear that our smart life has made us so dumb that we miserably fail to find our satiety at the right time. Not convinced? Look at the overweight and obesity data.

Why do you overeat?

We have a strong network between our brain and stomach. They communicate well and tell us when to eat and when to stop. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the satiety hormone) are the two hormones which play a major role in this entire communication. Most of the time we catch the hunger sensation easily (in fact half of the time we don’t feel hungry due to frequent snacking). But most of the time smart phone, laptop, television or social media keeps us busy and distracted during eating and fail us to find the satiety point.

Beside this, processed and junk foods are designed to make it addictive. Therefore, craving and temptation for sugary junk (or salty one) leads us to go overboard even after having guilt back of our mind.

How to do portion control ?

Portion control does not always need tools – portion control measuring cups, portion control plates etc. Following few tips can make the situation better for you.

Portion control starts from the basics tips –

1. Deep sleep for 8 hours

Good deep sleep has become a sheer luxury for most of us. But your body still treat sleep as necessity. Study shows that insufficient sleep increase the food craving next day. So be aware.


2. Drink enough water –  approx 3 liters a day

Water is life, we read it somewhere during the childhood but never realized the meaning though. If you are reading this blog now, you belong to the privileged section of this society. We never dream of water scarcity, keeping a long line for collecting water. But unknowingly we create water scarcity inside our body probably every day. Most of us forget drinking water where the fact is our body dysfunctions due to lack of water. In fact most of the time we misunderstood thirst with hunger. So next time if you feel hungry, try drinking some water.

Tips for portion control before eating –

3. Stop over cooking

No matter how much secure we are, we always feel insecure for everything. Many of us cook extra thinking of food shortage which hardly happen. And we end up eating extra portion for each meal. So stop being insecure and try to cook adequate but not extra.

4. Drink a glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before a meal

Yes, it works. Drinking a glass of water before your meal gives you a sense of satiety soon. So it is one of the most natural and great way to make your portion control.

5. Check the menu first

If you are the lucky one who get hot cooked food always in front, don’t forget to check the menu. It will help you to plan your meal portion accordingly.

6. Don’t eat straight from the food storing containers

This is the worst eating habit ever. No matter how much self-control you have, eating straight from the storing jar/pan will make you eat extra than usual. So relax. Take the food in a small bowl and then eat.


7. Take small plates

Eating in a big plate may be comfortable for few but there is every possibilities to end up eating more. So take small plates, self-serve little less food than usual, finish it and reload if needed.

8. Imagine dividing the plate as per the menu

This one is very effective. Do you often ask how much to eat? This trick gives you the correct answer. Always fill 1/4th of your plate with cereal (rice/ oats/ millets/ roti/ bread etc) and the rest 3/4th with legumes/ pulses, vegetables, fish/ chicken/ egg/ meat and curd/ buttermilk/or any milk product. Remember each item is important and has its own place in the plate. Try imagining a typical Indian thali.

Caution – don’t be smart (rather fool) by maintaining the 1/4 section with rice but increasing the height of heaped rice.

9. Take bowl

If small plates are not working, you may try taking food in a medium sized bowl. If you are a rice eater, this works great specially for dinner as we try to keep it simple. Let me tell you this one is my personal favorite. Fill the bowl with vegetables and then put the rice on top. Finish the bowl and if hungry go for the next helping.

10. Take half food

Trust me food is not going to get over. So go slow. Take half the amount of food than your actual hunger. Finish it slowly and if you are still hungry, go for the second helping. We get impatient, excited seeing food. Most of the time we lose control. So try this portion control technique. It works.

Tips for portion control during eating –

11. Relax, chew and eat slow

Yes, stop always being in hurry. Remember foods eaten in hurry always makes you fat. No, I am not kidding. If you eat fast, you eat more for sure. So relax, chew your food. Let the saliva mix with your food and start the digestion in your mouth itself (remember amaylolytic enzyme in saliva…10 th standard biology?)

12. No gadget, smart phone, television, laptop while eating

I know you are busy, in fact very busy. But you must take out 10-15 minutes to finish your meal, free from all gadgets. Concentrate on your food. Eat slow and be mindful to understand the communication which your body is trying to set up with you for long. Identify your satiety point and stop eating. If you are busy on Whats App or Facebook you will definitely eat until you start feeling physical discomfort.


13. Think twice or thrice before taking the second helping

Very important tip for portion control. Always think twice rather thrice before you take the second helping. Most of the time we take it not out of hunger but out of greed.

Tips for portion control after eating –

14. Sweet craving? Try mukhwas

For many of us entire effort for portion control go for a toss after finishing the meal. Yes, because this is when we start getting the sweet craving. Don’t feel alone. Being a Bengali, I can completely relate to your struggle. That is why my list of portion control tips does not end with finishing meal, rather it starts after finishing the meal. If you crave for sweets after meal, try a teaspoon of mukhwas. It is the mixture of Indian spices which helps to get rid of this craving.

15. Write diet diary

What !! after such a hectic day, now writing diet diary !?? Yes, I know it is a bit too much but friends this works wonder. No matter if you have followed the tips above, this one is the killer. Why? because writing diet diary makes you remember every single bite of food you had throughout the day. So after writing this, you need no dietitian to tell you where you have gone wrong. Trust me, this is the most powerful self monitoring as well as self motivating tool ever. Forget your food app/ health app. Just take a small note-book and pen, spend 3-4 minutes every night before bed and write down all your dietary achievements and sins.


Bottom Line

Portion control is must to keep the checks and balance in place. Even junks are still okay if taken little and good food is harmful if eaten too much. So it is necessary to know when to open your mouth and when to shut. The dream of weight loss or healthy life is meaningless until we learn to strike the balance.

I am nobody to tell you how much you need to eat. Portion control should be done by you, your brain and by your stomach. So have some respect and trust on your own body. Your body constantly communicating with you. Pay attention to listen to it. You don’t need any portion control measuring cups or portion control tools to stay in shape. Just be little mindful. Is that very difficult?

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty has done her Ph.D. in Food and Nutrition in 2017. She is based in Hyderabad. She has 12 yrs of working experience in nutrition. Dr. Soma guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve the goal of wellness. She believes in a sustainable diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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  • Anonymous , 31st July 2019 @ 12:15 pm

    Very useful tips👍🏻

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 31st July 2019 @ 12:15 pm


      • Eve , 9th October 2020 @ 4:29 pm

        what a revelation! Fat not weight loss! Thank you so much for your suggestions! I’m only eating healthy foods but too much! My body mind is out of touch with each other and I have a feeling your advice is just what I needed to hear!

      • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 9th October 2020 @ 6:41 pm

        Thanks a lot.

  • Anonymous , 31st July 2019 @ 1:46 pm

    Thank you Soma for your wonderful suggestion

  • Sukanya Ghosh , 31st July 2019 @ 1:47 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful suggestion

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 31st July 2019 @ 2:16 pm

      Thanks for your comment….. don’t forget to apply these tips…keep supporting us.

  • Anonymous , 31st July 2019 @ 5:35 pm

    Very useful and practical tips. Thank you Soma.

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 31st July 2019 @ 5:53 pm

      Thanks for your comment..
      Keep supporting us for evidence based doable tips for smart eating.

  • Nirman , 1st August 2019 @ 10:03 pm

    Very important information

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  • Anonymous , 27th August 2021 @ 11:55 am

    Excellent Article. It will surely guide people uto the right direction.

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