Q&A With Susie
Hi Susie. I seem to have no willpower when it comes to portion control. If food is put in front of me, I eat it; it’s almost like my brain is in some weird kind of survival mode? “Must eat, just in case!”… Do you have any tips for only eating as much as I need, rather than devouring everything on the plate simply because it’s there? I’m not too bad at home because I can keep the portion sizes minimal, but when we’re out with friends or at a restaurant I can’t seem to resist temptation, sometimes eating so much I make myself feel ill. Can you help? Thanks, Emma.
Portion control, or more specifically self regulation is a skill that can take many years if not a lifetime to master. The ability to self regulate when uncontrolled portions of food is present is both innate and a learnt behaviour. As such, if you were taught to overeat in social situations as a child, it will take some work to break this habit and then work on cementing a new one.
The first step is to keep exceptionally mindful when eating in social situations - make a concerted effort to eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and only take more food when you are finished what you have on your plate. Next, always make sure the bulk of your plate is salad or vegetables, this leaves far less room for higher calorie food options.
Finally, the trick is to stop eating before you are full. The first time you do this, is will be difficult. The next much easier and over time you will slowly cement a new habit of not overeating simply because food is there. There are no secrets or tricks, it comes down to committing to change this behaviour and actively working on it.
One last strategy that is also likely to help, never go out to a restaurant meal hungry, also grab a soup or salad or shake an hour or so beforehand - it is much easier to eat less when you are not hungry.