One the easiest ways to release that excess weight, and get rid of that extra fat on your body is simpler than you might think: It’s portion control.

One of the great things about portion control is you can do it without a major lifestyle disruption. Unlike crash diets that you can’t stick to, downsizing your portions is a reasonable change to make to your eating habits.

You all know that the reason for a that excess fat on your belly hips and thighs is too much food…that steady intake of large portions at home and especially when you eat out. So why, if you’re aware of the portion problem, is it so hard to fix it?

A lot has to do with Habit. The “clean your plate” mentality is very powerful social custom and often rooted in childhood.  I remember being guilt-tripped to finish my dinner by my parents, by being told that the poor kids in China were starving!

Studies show that people with more food in front of them eat more! And it doesn’t matter if it’s served on your plate or eaten from a container. Once your eyes and stomach become used to large portions of food, cutting back makes you feel deprived.

Environmental factors also conspire against you. The “more for your money” thinking has increased the portion sizes of restaurant meals, snack foods, and soft drinks. What makes matters worse, it’s often cheaper for larger portions!  This appeals to your desire for a bargain, so you get more than you really should eat.

In a world where gigantic super-sized portions have become the norm, you may have lost touch with what’s considered an appropriate, healthy serving size.

So a serving size is a specific amount of food defined by food guides, nutrition labels, and diet plans. A portion size, on the other hand, is the amount of food you eat in one sitting, regardless of how much your body actually needs.

So what is a serving size? What does it look like, and how can you implement portion control to eat healthy?

Here are a few ways to determine healthy portions so you’re getting what you need to nourish your body.

First figure out how much you need based on height, weight, age, activity level, and gender. If you’re trying to release weight and get rid of fat, you’ll need to eat fewer servings than recommended for your age and gender.

There are sites and apps that have calculators that can help you figure out your needs for the day.

Calorie Calculator – Daily Calorie Needs

My Fitness Pal

Choose My Plate

Make sure you eat a variety of foods and try to get as many food groups as possible everyday.

The first way I learned to monitor portion size was when I was 13 and put on a few pounds. I found a diet and exercise guide in the bookstore and followed it to the tee. It suggested that I measure or weigh everything to control portion size. It was very accurate but I found that all that weighing and measuring was a lot of work. I would get out my mom’s little food scale and dutifully weigh everything. Anyway, This food plan was really solid, and It worked really well.

Recently I tried the Beachbody 21 Day Fix Challenge  and I loved their system. It works on the same principle as that little book but it was a lot easier because they provide the color coded portion control containers. For example the Green containers are for veggies, Purple Containers for fruit, Red containers for protein etc. Then Beachbody provided a guide that showed you how many of each container you could eat each day based on your height and weight and goals. I loved this strategy. It’s a very easy system to follow and really works if you want to release that excess weight/fat and eat healthy portions.

Another way for you to get the proper portion size is to compare your food to everyday objects.

Fruit Portion = Tennis Ball

Vegetable Portion = Baseball

Leafy Greens = 2 Baseballs

Carbohydrates (like Pasta, Rice, or Bread) = Hockey Puck or Light Bulb

Hard Cheese = 1 Ice Cube or about 3-4 Dice

Protein Portion = Card Deck

Fish Portion = Checkbook

Nut butters = Ping Pong Ball or Golf Ball

Fat Portion = 2 Dice

So you catch the drift. Compare you food to these objects to get the right serving size.

Using your hands and fingers is an excellent way to measure portions. When I was taking a course in nutrition at the Ashram, where I also learned yoga, they were very fond of using hands to measure serving size. First and foremost your meal should be able to fit in your cupped hands for optimal digestion. Small meals were preferred. The exception to this was that you could have extra greens and extra broth.

Carbs, fruits, and veggies should be no more than a tightly clenched fist or what you could fit in one cupped hand. Proteins should fit in the palm of your hand. Nut butters the tip of your thumb, and fats the tip of your finger. It was an organic vegan diet, with food combining but that is a whole other story. Basically It was an extremely effective system and I got down to my optimal weight quickly.

Another way to figure out portions is to use divided plates. New dinnerware has emerged to help make proper portion control a daily success. Some of these divided plates even have printed pictures and figuring out how much of each food to eat is easy. Just look down at your plate and there’s a picture that mimics the exact portion for your protein, starch, veggies, and fruits.

Portion control is not about deprivation. Research shows that when you’re served less food, you eventually get used to it and don’t feel hungry with the healthy portions. When you add the many benefits of eating smaller portions – weight loss, better digestion, and more energy, it’s really worth the effort to eat the serving size.

If you would like to get a clean eating program, with recipes, menus, tips, and strategies to help you eat better portions, check out the meal plans in the Awaken Shop:

Awaken’s Fresh Start Program If you’re ready to change your life and start eating clean, this plan is for you. In this program you’ll get menus, recipes, shopping lists, tips, and strategies for healthy eating. You’ll also receive the guide to plant based proteins. If you want the healthy edge and vitality that clean eating provides, this is a great place to begin:  

Awaken’s Essential Detox is a clean eating program that provides that extra edge so you can meet and exceed your goals. In this plan you’ll get menus, recipes, shopping lists, tips, and strategies for clean eating. You’ll also receive extra guides on essential oils and how to use them to support your health. Get this program if you want the boost that essential oils add to your life:

Awaken’s Sizzling Summer Program is a plan that also provides menus, recipes, shopping lists, tips, and strategies, but it has an extra added dimension. You’ll get 4, private coaching sessions with me, via Skype. Conquer the issues and problems that are holding you back from ultimate health and vitality. Get the extra support that wellness coaching can provide:

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