Portion control is probably one of the most challenging things that dieters have to do, as they are SO HUNGRY that they want to eat EVERYTHING! That is the problem with many diets that people try, as they don’t get enough food to keep them full and thus they end up snacking. While eating the right foods to stay full without overeating is important, it is a subject for another time. Here we are talking about resisting the temptation to eat more than you should, and limiting the amount of food you put on your plate.

Limiting your food intake isn’t easy, but it is an important part of dieting. If you are serious about losing weight or getting in shape, it is essential that you do whatever you can to cut back on the amount of food you eat. Portion control will ensure that you are actually sticking to your lower calorie diet, and it will help you to have the self-restraint that you need to NOT eat that food that you REALLY, REALLY want to. It will be the challenge of your lifetime, but it will be much easier once you get in the habit of it.

Step 1: Use smaller dinnerware – Most people set the table with 12 inch plates, and you will be surprised just how much food can fit on a 12 inch plate – definitely much more food than you want to eat. There is something terribly hunger-inducing about seeing a lot of white space on your plate, and you will end up eating more if your plate looks too empty. The secret, therefore, is to change the size of your plates. If you can eat on a 9 inch plate, all of a sudden that small piece of chicken looks much bigger. If you eat with a smaller fork, much less pasta will fit on it at one time. Downsizing your dinnerware will not only help you to eat less, but will make it possible for you to eat more slowly as well.

Step 2: Clear out the fridge – If there is one thing that makes us eat more than we should, it is seeing that there are leftovers in the fridge. It is just too easy to mosey on over to the fridge, open the door, and reach in for some delicious slice of pizza or piece of steak that was left over from last night’s dinner. If you are serious about limiting your food intake, get rid of all the leftovers in your fridge and only cook exactly what you are going to eat. Fill your fridge with veggies that you can eat at any time, but make sure that there is nothing too delicious stored in the fridge that will tempt you to eat more than you should.

Step 3: Out of sight, out of mind – Once you have finished eating your allotted portion of food, either clear the table or leave. If you see the others eating their food, your stomach will tell you, “Hey pal, why aren’t you eating more?” You will be so tempted to eat more that you probably will end up doing so, which is why you need to get the food out of your sight and therefore out of your mind. If you finish dinner faster than your family does, slow down and eat slowly. If you relish every bite, you will be much more satisfied and less likely to snack. If staying at the table is just too tempting, leave the room and do something to keep your mind occupied.

Step 4: Eat more veggies – Everyone knows that vegetables are great for you, but it can be hard to stick with just veggies on your plate. However, eating a bit of protein and starch will be important, though the amount you are allowed to eat will be dependent on your diet. Still, if you want to get full and remove the temptation to snack, stock up on vegetables before eating your protein. Save your steak or chicken breast for last, and eat a few heaping portions of salad, cooked veggies, or vegetable sticks.

Step 5: Divide and Conquer – There is something about a bag of chips or a large roast that just makes you eat more than you should. If you are sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn in your lap, chances are you will end up eating the whole bowl. The same goes for tortilla chips, bread, and anything else you are eating. If you want to make it easier to resist temptation, divide things into smaller portions. Take that bowl of popcorn and divvy it up between each member of your family, keeping only a small bowl for yourself. Spread the snacks out into little bags, and only eat a single bag at a time. If you give yourself a limited amount of something tasty and make it difficult to eat more, you will find that it will be much easier to resist the temptation.

Step 6: Eat Small Meals – Most diet experts will agree that eating 5 or 6 small meals a day is a great way to lose weight and avoid the hunger pangs that make it so much more likely that you will cheat on your diet. It will take a while for your body to get used to it, but eating every 3 hours or so is a great way to ensure that you don’t eat more than you should. Make sure to divide your daily caloric intake into smaller meals, and only stick to those meals. Once your body has adjusted to eating more regularly, you will find that you have almost no desire to eat more because you know that your next meal is just a short time away.

If you can follow these six steps, portion control will be much easier for you. It is still going to be one of the most challenging parts of your diet, but at least it will be manageable and you will be able to overcome the temptation to eat more than you should.

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