One of the most common nutrition questions I get asked is on portion control
Many of my health coaching clients lead with, “I just can’t do portion control”, almost accepting defeat or taking it as a given that portion control would ever work for them.
Most of us experience this challenge on occasion, and if not, all the time.
Some of us start eating and just can’t stop. Some have the issue where eating food only makes them want to eat more food. Ever started snacking on something and just could not stop?
You’re not alone.
Over the past 10 or so days, I was put through the ultimate test confronting my own challenges with portion control.
For some reason, my body developed this insatiable hunger and my appetite became unrecognizable. It lasted over a week, but felt like much longer.
Nothing else was going on with my body or environment to explain this change. My body just seemed to need much more food than usual to get through the day. I could not go for more than 30 min without eating something.
When I tried to go for longer breaks between eating (I’m used to eating every 2 to 3 hours), I was so distracted by my hunger that the only solution was to eat.
I could not shut off my appetite, even before bed.
My best conclusion after all this? Sometimes our bodies simply need more food to convert into energy to get through the day.
I thought it would be timely to feature this week’s blog post on this issue of portion control, which is more common than you may think.
I’ve also recorded a vlog on this (below) to share my personal and recent struggles with overcoming this.
The first step to portion control is actually letting go of the limiting belief that you cannot do portion control. Let go of any other negative emotions like guilt or shame associated with your portion control challenges. I know it’s easier said than done, so just bear with me for a moment and simply imagine that it is possible to be in control. Now set all that aside.
Once you’ve done some of the mental preparation to get in the right mindset, try the following action steps to see if you can reach a point of being in a little more control despite your circumstances.
Negotiate with yourself set times or intervals during which you will eat. Every two to three hours is usually a good interval. For others, committing to specific times to eat meals and snacks is easier to manage.
When you do eat, make it count. Make sure you’re eating enough so that you can take that 2–3 hour break between your meals and snacks. Eat slower – as slowly as you can, so that you give your stomach enough time to signal to your brain that you’re reaching fullness. As a rule of thumb, eating until you’re 80% full is ideal for energy and metabolism. More than that and you’ll start to feel sleepy or uncomfortable.
If you’re not feeling full yet, try adjusting your ratio of proteins to fats to carbs. These are the three macronutrients that should make up every one of your meals and snacks so that you are getting what you need from the food to energize you and balance your blood sugar.
If you’re still burning through the food, that’s ok too. Just try opting for less processed, whole, nourishing foods every time you do eat so that at least you walk away knowing you did what you could to minimize discomfort and maximize nutrients.
Sometimes our bodies simply need more to get by than other weeks. At this point, you have really tried everything you can. The worst thing you can do if all else fails is to deprive yourself of food. Listen to your body and honour your hunger and fullness.
Let go of the outcome. Stop worrying. You’ll bounce right back. Have faith that this will pass.
In this vlog below, I explain my two biggest lessons learned from my personal experience with portion control issues this week. I could not go for more than 30 minutes at a time without eating. Despite not feeling myself, I was able to strategize a bit to regain some, albeit not all, control.