6 Ways to Prevent Portion Distortion

Want to have your cake and eat it too? Don't we all. The problem is that if you randomly carve a slice of cake for yourself, you just might be eating for two. And that's a problem if you're trying to control calories and watch your weight.

But you know what? Part of the problem is portion distortion. Ever go to a restaurant and marvel at the amount of food you're served? If you order a soft drink, what size is it, or does it come with unlimited refills? Starting to see the pattern?

Serving sizes have changed dramatically over the last 30-plus years. And it's one reason more people are overweight or obese. For example, in the 1980s, a typical turkey sandwich was a reasonably healthy option at 320 calories. But put in an order for a turkey sandwich today, and the typical feed-your-face sandwich contains 820 calories. The standard size of a soda at a fast food restaurant used to be a small 8-ounce cup. Now it's 16 to 32 ounces and usually includes free refills. More empty calories.

Fortunately, you don't have to be a victim of portion distortion any longer. Here are some smart ways to control calories, eat healthier, and practice portion control.

1. Size up every serving

Your hands can help you determine what a healthy portion size really is. Check out this serving size chart. It's a better way to estimate serving size than just guessing.

2. Read food labels

There's actually really useful info on food packages. At a glance, you can see how many calories are in a serving, along with carbohydrates, fats, protein, and other macronutrients. Where a lot of people go wrong is assuming that the whole package is a single serving. But a lot of times it's actually two or more servings.

3. Buy in bulk, then repackage

Everybody likes a good deal. And buying in bulk is one way you can save a little on your food bill. But if you're not careful, you could easily munch your way through two or three servings in one sitting. Go ahead and buy in bulk. Then read the food label, and repackage into single serving sizes.

4. Split a meal

Make this the standard rule anytime you go out to eat. Why? The vast majority of restaurant meals contain enough calories for two. If you're dining alone, or don't plan to share with someone else, ask for a to-go box when you place your order. When the food arrives, put half the meal in the to-go box for later.

5. Use a smaller plate

A family dinner, office pot-luck, or buffet restaurant where you dish up your own food can be a disaster if you're trying to practice portion control. But it doesn't have to be. Use a smaller plate, like a salad plate, when you dish up your meal. You'll eat less. If you're still hungry when you're done, you can probably have seconds without a calorie surplus.

6. Chew your food

A lot of people operate on a go-go-go-always-in-a-hurry schedule. It can trickle down to eating meals way too fast. If you want to control calories, take time to chew your food. Enjoy conversation at the table. Give your food time to digest. You may find that you're not even hungry for seconds.

There are a lot of different ways you can practice portion control to keep your calories in check. And there's at least one other way that works. Pick your meals from the Portion Control menu. The entrees are all made from fresh ingredients and contain just the right amount of food to satisfy your hunger and keep you on track.