Trick Your Body into Eating Less: 55 Portion Control Tips

Trick Your Body into Eating Less: 55 of the Best Portion Control Tips

*Don’t try to follow all of these tips. Just pick a few that will work for you. In fact, some tips will not work with each other. For example one tip might say, “decide that you will avoid getting seconds,” while another tip might say, “get seconds of vegetables.” Obviously these tips would not work together. You pick and choose and customize a plan that works for you.

Below are a list of my absolute favorite portion control tips. I also included links to some of my favorite portion control tools and products! So here they are, 55 of the best portion control tips for weight loss.

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1. Don’t confuse thirst with hunger.

Drink a glass of water, first, when you feel hungry to see if water is what you are really craving. Sometimes we think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty

I like water bottles that help you keep track of how much water you are drinking like the 30oz Inspirational Water Bottle With Time Marker + Measurements | Goal Marked Times Fitness Sports Bottles Best For Measuring Your H2O Intake, BPA Free Non-toxic Tritan (Think Positive Purple)

2. Eat the lower calorie foods on your plate first.

After you have eaten the lower calorie foods like vegetable, you will feel fuller. Then you won’t feel the desire to devour the high calorie foods at the meal.

3. Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables first, then add meat and starches to your plate.

Sometimes we leave little room for the fruits and vegetables because we pile up the plate with other foods first.

4. Eat your fruits and vegetables first. 

This is a twist on the tip above. Vegetables are lower in calorie, so your goal could be, ” I will eat the vegetables and fruit on my plate first.”

5. Split your plate into sections:  Half the plate fruits and vegetables, 1/4 the plate meat, and 1/4 the plate starch.

Most meals are either divided into food groups like meat, carbohydrate, and vegetables. Sometimes our food groups are combined into recipes like in spagehetti. If you have a combination food, which is usually a meat, a starch, and maybe a few vegetables mixed in, then fill half your plate with only vegetables and fruit and half your plate with the combination food. Combination foods include foods like a spaghetti or casseroles. If you are eating any vegetables that are not plain vegetables like squash or broccoli casserole or fried okra place these foods on your combination side of your plate.

If you like this tip, but want to take the guess out of plating your food, you might want to try the Precise Portions 2-Go Healthy Portion Control Plates, Pack of 2, BPA-Free, 3-Section Plate with Leak-Proof Lids, Dishwasher & Microwave Safe, Helps Manage & Lose Weight, Metabolism & Blood Sugar. This plate takes the guess work out of portioning. You can even use the lid to prevent you from piling the food to high. The lid also makes the plate very portable. You can pack you  lunch for work using the portion plate!

6.  Limit the amount of sides you cook.

Don’t cook too many things.   All you need is a starch, meat (or combination food) and 2 vegetables or a fruit and vegetable. In other words, if you have rice, corn casserole, dinner rolls, hamburger steak, and salad for dinner then good luck trying to fit it on your plate. Even if you put a little of each on your plate you are going to eat way too much. All of a sudden your plate is piled high. Bottom line, if you have too many options, you often tend to eat too much.

7.  Buy a portion control plate.

These are plates that already have the portions divided for you on the plate. All you have to do is put the appropriate food on the appropriate spot of the plate.

8. Drink water as soon as you wake up in the morning.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling starved? You could be more thirsty than hungry. Drink a glass of water first, to avoid overeating your breakfast.

9. When you are snacking, make sure your snack is no bigger than your fist.

This is an easy on-the-go portion control tip.

10.  Don’t get seconds.

Need a little help resisting seconds? Before eating a meal, remind yourself of something you really enjoy doing and tell yourself that you will do that activity after you finish eating. That way you won’t feel sad that eating, which is many people’s favorite hobby, is over. You will have something else to look forward to instead of eating. So when you want seconds say to yourself, “I have something else fun to do.” Have you ever noticed that children are often ready for eating to end so that they can play? Their life doesn’t revolve around food. We can be like children again and really enjoy our lives. So if you enjoy looking at social media or texting a friend or looking at home décor magazines. Give yourself at least a few minutes to do something you enjoy after you eat.

11.  If you really want seconds, only get seconds of vegetables.

12. Use measuring cups to portion out your food on your plate and then do not get seconds.

I like collapsable measuring cups like the ones below:

13. Drink water before a meal and with meals to feel full.

Water is huge! Drinking more water can greatly improve your portion control.

14. Don’t eat the side bread with meals.

Don’t eat the dinner rolls or garlic bread with the meal.

15. After cooking, freeze or refrigerate the food that you aren’t going to eat right away.

Do this right away. Getting seconds is harder if the food is already in the freezer.

16. Before going back for seconds, wait 10 or 15 minutes.

You might not want seconds after all.

17. Have an afternoon prep day. Make 5 meals and 5 snacks in a bag or containers.

If snacks and meals are already bagged and pre-portioned it helps with portion control throughout the week.

18. Eat slowly and put your fork down.

Put your fork down between each bite. Chew each bite and swallow before picking up your fork for another bite. Pay attention to the flavors in each bite. Enjoy and notice each bite before going for the next bite. Take a sip of your drink before picking your fork back up. It takes your brain 20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full so take your time. (see How to Mindfully Eating for Weight Loss)

19. Every time you eat a meal, sit down.

Avoid stand while eating. Your body better processes that you have eaten if you sit down and slowly enjoy your food.

20. Hold a conversation while you are eating and eat slowly.

21. Eat your meals at home on a smaller plate like a breakfast plate or child’s plate and be sure to leave “white space” or open space on your plate.

Kid sized plates are often more appropriate sizes. Your plate looks fuller, and you feel like you are eating more when you eat on a smaller plate. If you are afraid you will defeat the purpose of a smaller plate by piling the food high, then get a plate with a lid and make sure you do not smash the food if you put the lid on the plate.

22. Use a breakfast plate as your personal serving plate.

If you have trouble appropriatley plating your food try this tip. Fill a breakfast plate with food and then take half of the food off of the breakfast plate and place that food on another plate. After you eat from one plate, pause to see if you are hungry before getting more food from the other plate. If you are full, save the other plate for the next meal This physical act of have to replate your food, forces you to pause to notice hunger cues before putting more food on your plate. For more portion control ideas like these read Migrate Fletcher also wrote a book entitled The Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: Professional Edition

23. Pause before you eat.

Pause and look at your plate. Think about your plate and how it looks before you eat. Would someone else think that your portion size looks appropriate? Then while pausing, pray and thank God before taking my first sip and bite. Remind yourself to be mindful of God’s presence. Eating can becomes an act of worship. Remind yourself that you are taking care of God’s creation (you).  Remember the words from 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “so whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Wow! What a great reminder!  Also look to 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 to remember that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that we should glorify God in our body. When we mindLESSly eat, we miss the opportunity to be in awareness of God’s presence. Finally, take your first sip of drink and only then begin eating. (See Mindful Eating)

24. Get someone else in your household to plate your food.

Plate each other’s food. We tend to add a little more for ourselves. Or pack each other’s lunches for the next day.

25. Try eating at least two vegetables with every lunch and dinner.

Remember the tip from above, fill half the plate with vegetables and only leave half the plate for other foods.

26. Notice your hunger cues.

Think about how your stomach feels when it is empty. When you are hungry, your stomach will feel empty; you may get a headache or feel weak. If you don’t have any of these physical hunger cues, think about why you want to eat. Then when you do decide you are hungry and you decide to eat, be mindful of the food you eat (not mindless). Really taste and chew and think about what is in your mouth and going down your esophagus. (See How to Mindful Eating to Lose Weight)

27. Use a kitchen timer.

If after eating a meal you want to eat more, set the timer for 15 minutes. Usually you weren’t really hungry.


28. Decide you are not allowed to eat your next meal until after a certain time.

An example would be I am not allowed to eat anything after lunch until after 4:00.

29. Use small bathroom cups for portion control.

Use it to portion out high calorie foods.

30. Use baby silverware so that you take smaller bites.

lose weight photo
Photo by Sole Treadmill

31. Use chopsticks to help slow your eating down. (This works better if you aren’t great at using chopsticks.)

32. Include foods in your meals that help increase satiety.

Protein foods like a handful of nuts and fiber foods help you feel full longer. Foods with healthy fats such as olives, salmon and walnuts help you feel satisfied as well.   (Remember to pre-portion your nuts and include them as one of your PLANNED snacks. Don’t just snack on nuts throughout the day)

33. Include liquid-based foods.

Including liquid-based foods such as natural smoothies and low-sodium soup into your meals can help you cut back on calories yet feel full.

34. Chew sugar-free gum after dinner instead of getting seconds.

35. Always have vegetables on hand.

Sauté a big bag of frozen mixed vegetables in olive oil and garlic. Add some red pepper for additional flavor and separate into portion-sized containers for the refrigerator. Then fill up half your plate with these vegetables at dinner.

36. Save the kitchen and the dining room table for cooking and eating.

Try not to use the table as a place to do work or other activities, or you may be tempted to eat more.

37. Keep track of what and how you are eating with food tracking apps, a  fit bit, food journals, or food diaries.

This will hold you accountable and help you see just how much food you are eating. Make sure you write down everything you eat, even little grazing bites that you eat here and there. Include how much you ate and don’t forget the condiments.

I use the Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Teal, Large (US Version).

38. Avoid eating meals while doing other things like surfing the Internet or watching television.

You eat more when you aren’t thinking about the food, and you end up enjoying the food less and tasting the food less when you are doing other things while you are eating. Enjoy and pay attention to your food.

39. Take 30 second breaks sporadically during your meal to access how full you are.

This will also slow down your eating, which makes you feel full faster. Better yet, take 30 seconds throughout the meal to pause and remember that you are God’s creation. By eating, we are taking care of God’s creation and when we mindfully pause, we are taking hte time to appreciate God’s gift of food as well.  (See How to Mindful Eating to Lose Weight)

40. Turn dinner from the night before into a healthy lunch, by putting a serving of your dinner into light whole wheat wraps and take that to work.

41. Pounding out your meat will make your healthier portions look visually larger.

42. Save a portion of your food for leftovers.

Instead of wanting to finish all of your food at one meal, think of it like you still get to have all that food, you are just splitting it between meals. Just tell yourself, “I can have more later. I still get to eat all of this food, I am just taking a break until the next meal.” Even if you only have a small amount left, SAVE it for leftovers. Too often we say, “Well, there is not enough to save so I might as well eat it.” Don’t fall into that trap. Add all your leftovers together and you will have a good meal. In other words, if you love eating and find yourself not wanting the meal to end, think of yhe end of the meal as just a break from eating. You will resume eating at the mext meal.

43. Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal.

44. The more variety of foods we have to more we eat; therefore, don’t have too many choices at your meals or have more choices of your fruits and vegetables.

45. Have at least 2 or 3 fruit or vegetable options at meals but only one starch and protein option at dinner.

Since we tend to enjoy more variety, we may eat more fruits and vegetables when that is where we can get most of our variety. In other words, we will get bored of the starch and protein quicker if they lack variety.

46. Eat veggies galore.

Eat veggies for snacks. Eat a large quantity of veggies at meals and smaller amount of your favorite foods at meals.

47. When eating a sandwich, take one piece of bread off, and eat an open face sandwich.

You still get the flavor and texture of the bread, but less calories.

48. Add red pepper to your meals, especially breakfast or lunch.

Red pepper may suppress your appetite; thus, reduce the amount of food you’ll eat later.

49. Don’t serve the food at the dinner table.

Keep it in the kitchen or better yet; measure out your food to fix your plate and then put the food away in the refrigerator before you eat.

50. One day a week or even better one day a month, cook all your food for the week or month.

Then go ahead and preportion your food before freezing them. Now you are making your very own healthy homemade preportioned frozen dinners. If you want to thy this, you can purchase [10 Pack]3 Compartment Meal Prep Food Storage Containers with Lids/BPA Free Bento Lunch Boxes/Divided Portion Control Container Plates-Microwave, Dishwasher Safe, Free Cutlery

51. Use house hold items as a serving guide; know how to approximate serving sizes.

Always try to make all your servings on your plate about the sizes listed below:

Estimates of Serving Sizes Using Household Objects:

  • Meat = the size of a deck of cards
  • Cheese (1 oz) = the size of 4 dice
  • Skim milk = the size of a tennis ball
  • Fruit = about the size of a tennis ball
  • Pasta or rice = the size of a tennis ball (1 cup) or lightbulb (1/2 cup)
  • Oil = the size of a marble

52. Or go a step further and fill a box with household items like a deck of cards, dice, tennis ball, lightbulb, and marble to gage serving sizes and keep the box in your kitchen for reference.

53. Divide your plate. 

If you and your spouse are having trouble with portion control, fill one plate with food. The divide that food onto to smaller plates. You are both now eating half of what you usually eat.

54. Take a picture of your plate.

Take pictures of your plates at every meal. You can show your pictures to someone for accountability or keep a chart for yourself. This will really hold you accountable, and if we look back at our pictures we can really see where we cheated. With pictures we can’t lie to ourselves.

55. Follow recommended servings per your recommended calorie range (See chart below)

Find your height below to see the amount of servings you should be eating per day if you are lightly to moderaltey active (this is an estimate; the more you exercise the more you will need to eat and the less you exercise the less you should eat. However, if you eat too little you can slow your metabolism and lose muscle mass. Avoid eating less than 1200 a day): 




Remember this is an estimate for lightly to moderately active males and females. You may eat more when you exercise more. This may seem like more servings than you would think; however, serving sizes are often smaller than people realize. Check out the serving size chart below

* Serving Sizes:

-Starch serving (pasta or rice) = 1/2 cup or the size of a lightbulb

-Starch serving (bread)= 1 slice

-Fruit serving= 1 fruit or 1/2 cup or the size of a lightbulb

– Milk serving = 1 cup – 1 meat serving = 3 ounces or the size of a deck of cards

– Vegetable = 1/2 cup or the size of a lightbulb


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