AS THEY SAY, GO SMALL PLATES OR GO HOME!
Controlling your portion size is the main tenant of flexible dieting. Achieving your long-term weight loss goal is about retraining your habits and ensuring that you're only eating as much as your body needs. That being said, a popular weight loss hack has always been to eat using smaller plates. This is because larger tableware causes you to underestimate portion sizes of food and alcohol. In fact, a study performed at the University of Cambridge in the UK confirmed just that.
Researchers' data showed that people consumed more food when offered more. Now at first reading that you may think "uh duh.." However, the key here is understanding that most people when merely exposed to more food don't make the conscious decision to eat only until full. Therefore, it's important to remember that not only do your hormones and genetics play a role but also your environment affects your relationship with food. Yes, something as seemingly harmless as your dinnerware could make changing your eating habits that much more difficult. Consistently underestimating portion sizes impacts even the most well-intentioned fitness aspirant. In that same study, researchers found that Americans, on average, could be eating 527 excess calories per day by underestimating portion sizes. That amounts to an extra pound of body fat in a week.
My mantra is, in order for fitness progress to be permanent, it must be sustainable. Therefore your relationship with food and exercise often must change. This requires a shift in perception. Without changing your perception, a crucial habit like portion control can feel like deprivation. Yes, portion control could feel unfavorable and like you're denying yourself pleasures. Or, it could feel positive, like you're eating say...tapas.
I'm old enough to remember when Tapas restaurants began to appear in American culture. They had a slow start as U.S. culture tends to favor overindulgence. Tapas restaurants emerged everywhere and the reviews went something like "the food was good, but we left hungry." Still, tapas style eating thrived in the U.S. and became a restaurant staple. Tapas originated as a way to solve a need. In Spain prior to the 19th century inn-keepers largely could not read or write. Therefore offering a menu to travelers was sort of out of the question. Tapas became a way for those inn-keepers to allow travelers to sample foods before ordering entire meals. Over time, the method evolved into appetizers, and eventually restaurant goers began ordering many different tapas at once to make one full meal.
Present day, the appeal of tapas is largely due to the environment. They're usually highly culinary dishes that are shared and provide a social setting over food. Everyone is nibbling on different small plates, and trying many different dishes together. The serving sizes are small and they foster a habit of snacking. This is a departure from traditional American restaurant-style eating of large plates filled to the brim with food. You might even leave with a doggy bag to take the leftovers home in. Instead, tapas style eating seems to embody the main tenants of portion control like eating from smaller plates, snacking, and eating more slowly through socializing.
So If you struggle with portion control, try replicating this method at home. It's a creative way perceive portion control and change to your eating environment. Ditch your larger plates, glassware and bowls for smaller options. Nibble on smaller meals and don't think of it as a diet. It doesn't have to feel like deprivation.
You're just eating tapas.