Portion Control Tips — Without Counting Calories

Do you follow proper portions?

Raise your hand in you've tried counting calories or monitoring macros before. I, Kalie, am guilty on both accounts. I've tried both methods in an attempt to combat things like:

  • Continuing to eat when I'm full 
  • Sneaking a nibble of something I know I shouldn’t eat
  • “Taste testing” while cooking
  • Skipping meals, ultimately causing me to overeat later

Sound familiar?

The thing about tracking every single calorie and macro (in my experience) is that you inevitably end up getting frustrated because you can't keep up with it OR you become so obsessed with tracking every last detail of each meal that it becomes exhausting and takes the fun out of eating. Neither of these are beneficial OR necessary to maintain a healthy weight. 

Rather than counting macros or calories, use the following tips below to make healthy changes!

Tips to practice portion control without counting calories or tracking macros

Spread your meals out.

When you spread your calories over the course of a day by eating several small, nutritionally balanced meals, or by including snacks to bridge the gap between meals, you’ll have less of a desire to cheat knowing your next meal is only a few hours away. You’ll also keep your metabolism elevated, feel more energetic and help keep your blood sugar regulated.

Drink water. 

You can never indulge in too much water. Not only is thirst often confused for hunger, drinking water before a meal aids in portion control because it helps you feel full.

While cooking, only taste test when it’s absolutely necessary.

When it comes to portion control, this is one of my biggest struggles. I LOVE to try what I'm cooking. When I began paying attention to how many times I tasted “a bite,” I quickly realized I ate half a meal before it was even plated! Since becoming aware of this, I make a conscious effort to keep my sampling to a minimum and only do so when I'm unsure of flavor combinations.

Use a small plate.

Eating off of a smaller plate not only reduces the amount you serve yourself, it tricks your mind into thinking there’s more food portioned out on your plate. Rather than taking into account the size of the plate, your mind pays more attention to how much the plate is filled, even if it’s the same amount of food.

While I often give my hubby a large plate to eat off of, I always choose a small-size plate for myself. This has helped me grasp proper portion control without feeling like I'm just eating a snack.

Start paying attention to your serving sizes and the balance between food groups on your plate.

Whenever plating your food, take a look at how much of each food group you're including. If you're a visual gal like myself and being able to look at your hand to determine how much of something you should be eating (a palm-size amount of meat) or relate portions to tangible things, such as a ping pong ball-size amount of fat (like nut butter), the guides in our digital download bundle Well-Balanced Meals Made Easy will become your new best friend. 

Take a few minutes before serving yourself seconds. 

On average, it takes 15 minutes for your brain to realize you are full. Therefore, stop eating before you actually feel full! When you’re finished eating a meal, immediately put the leftovers away and out of sight.

Don’t deprive yourself of certain foods so you're driven to binge eat later. 

It's important to allow yourself an irresistible meal or delectable treat on occasion to help keep you satisfied. That’s where The 80/20 Approach comes into play (80% of the time aim to eat healthy, 20% treats). The math is simple: If you eat three well-balanced meals a day, four meals a week are reserved to indulge in your favorites. This rule teaches you balance and moderation, a concept that doesn’t exist in fad diets. 

We don't believe in blacklisting foods; instead, we believe in balance.

By allowing yourself treats 20% of the time, you feel satisfied without the crazy cravings or the need to count calories. Remember, balance is key!

Determine where your struggle stems from and address it.

If you binge eat because you skip meals and have no self-control when it comes to meal time, stop skipping meals. If you get home from work late and overeat out of pure hunger, start packing a small mid-day snack instead. Take a look at your patterns and determine where you're struggling. Then come up with a plan of action to address your struggles. 

If you thrive off of accountability, try one of our resources.

  • FfL's Healthy Living Log: This is a great tool to track your general eating patterns and create accountability. You'll make space for healthy habits and personal goals in a way that actually works.
  • Break Free from Emotional Eating: If you struggle with emotional eating, this proven method will help you to identify the underlying issues behind your food struggles and say goodbye to emotional eating so your mind is free to focus on bigger and better things.
Let's simplify portion control so mealtime becomes a joyful experience — together!


Cheers to a healthy lifestyle and living FULLforLife!

xo, Pam & Kalie

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