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Ten Tips to Reduce Your Portions

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

When it comes to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight (especially post-menopause), one of the single most important things you have to do is to eat smaller portions. Basically, eat less. You can work out until you pass out (not advisable!), but the truth is that weight loss happens in the kitchen, not in the gym.

So you need to re-evaluate your portions. It sounds very simple, however it's definitely easier said than done! We are bombarded with adverts and the allure of extra large everything, or increasing the size of a meal for a very small additional price that seems such good value! Before we know it that “extra large” applies to our waistlines to.

So, how do you reduce your portion sizes? Beyond the tried and tested methods of using smaller plates and eating more vegetables, how do you cut your portions to help get your waistline in to a more healthy measurement bracket?

Here are Ten Ideas to Help Reduce Your Portions

1. Take a break. When you finish your meal, push your plate away and take ten minutes to have a glass of water and a conversation, or read something, before you assess whether you are still hungry and need to eat more. More often than not you won’t head back to the kitchen for seconds if you give yourself a minute to digest.

2. Shake off the 'empty plate' mindset. Many of us heard all about the starving children while we were growing up. We were encouraged to be part of the “Clean Plate Club”, and commended when we'd cleared our plates, but as an adult that really doesn't serve us well. NEVER eat when you aren’t hungry. Don’t be afraid to leave some food behind. It can take some work to shift this mindset, but it's well worth it! At home, the easiest way to start is by actually serving yourself less, so you only have a serving that will be adequate to make you feel 'just full'.

3. Pack up the kitchen BEFORE you sit down. This one can get a little logistically tricky, and you don't want your food to get cold, but try packing up your leftovers, particularly leftover carbs, before you sit down to eat. When food is sitting on the kitchen counter calling your name, it’s much harder to resist a second helping than if you need to get it out of the covered dish or fridge and reheat it.

4. Never eat from a packet! When you are trying to reduce your portions you have to know how much you are eating. You could even get yourself some measuring spoons, pots, and a food scale, and start using them, just don't let it become obsessive. Sticking your hand in the bag or spooning up ice cream from the carton are recipes for disaster.

5. Carbs are a side dish! It's often habit, but we all tend to use starchy carbohydrates as a base for meals. To cut your meal size, condsider starting with carbs. Pasta, potatoes, and rice should not be the center of your meal. Make vegetables the star of your plate!

6. Single servings are your friend. If you want to eat something that doesn’t fall into the “Healthy Food” category, consider single servings. Just buy pre-packaged individual servings and limit yourself to one. If you want a cookie, stop at the bakery and buy ONE, not a pack of twelve! You can’t eat a dozen if you don’t have a dozen to eat. It just takes the temptation away.

7. Finish fruity! Re-train your taste buds to crave something fruity at the end of a meal. Instead of a super-sweet, dense dessert, aim to finish your meal with fresh berries or even a fruity tea. After a few weeks of finishing a meal with fruit you should start to find the craving for dessert after every meal begins to subside. Fruit is a lovely naturally sweet ending to a meal, as can a fruity or herbal tea be. If you do find cravings are a bit of an issue, then this is something we can work on.

8. WATER first. If you want to eat less, drink more water, especially if you're really not drinking enough. This tip is an oldie but a goodie. A nice tall glass of water helps fill your stomach so that a smaller portion of food feels more satisfying. Drinking up to 500ml of water thirty minutes before you eat can help you eat less.

9. Tight trousers. Here’s my favorite. Wear your tighter jeans to dinner. Jogging bottoms say, “Hey! You want that second helping? Go for it! I’m stretchy! I can take it!” Your tight trousers, on the other hand, say, “No more, pleeeeeeease! I’m about to burst.” Listen to your trousers ladies, and no cheating by unbuttoning the top button!

10. Ambience. A meal should be a lovely sensory experience. You will be more mindful of your serving sizes when you eat from a pretty plate that contrasts well with your food, in an uncluttered space, free of distractions. People tend to eat more when they are distracted, so stop watching TV or reading while you eat and focus on the task at hand. Enjoy your meal in all its small and beautiful proportions. If you want some tips on more mindful eating then check out my other article here.

Changing the way you eat takes some dedication, and it does take courage. It also takes a willingness to try doing things differently, and not give up at the first hurdle or set-back. As I always say, progress is never linear, there will ALWAYS be bumps in the road, if you're human that is! Just make sure you're getting enough nutrients, and a healthy proportion of macronutrients (this is something I can work out for you if you're one of my clients, as well as your calorie goal if that's something you want).

Steps to Eliminate Portion Distortion

Let yourself be creative. Share. Half a bag of chips, after all, has half as many calories as a whole bag. Generosity might be the key to reducing your portions?

If you eat out a lot and you know you're somewhere that always serves large portions, have a starter as your dinner. Or you could ask the waiter to pack half your meal to go home before you begin, or just ask for a take-away container at the beginner, and pack anything in to it that you know will be more than you need at the start of the meal (or as soon as you get to the 'just full' point). Even when you dine out you can find simple ways to control how much you eat if you put a little planning into it.

Living in a world of super-size, giant portions makes it hard to remember how much we should be eating.

At home or at a restaurant, if you can find a way to reduce your portions you’ll eat less and this can really help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

Let me know what works best for you as I love to hear about my readers making progress. You can email your success to me at

Please note: This article is intended to be for educational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or replace professional assessment or personalised advice.

I do not hold responsibility for the information on any links to external websites within this article and information within these links/websites may change at any time or no longer be accessible. Any website pages/links added are also for education purposes only.

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