5 Tips to Trick Yourself to Eat Less!

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platesOne of the things I struggle with the most, in regards to my health, is sticking to portion sizes.  You’d think as a nutritionist I’d have that down pat.  Yea, no.  Definitely don’t.  I love food and more importantly, I love eating it.  Case in point, this evening I made pasta for dinner – whole wheat orecchiette with sautéed kale, onions, peas and sun-dried tomatoes.  Pretty healthy, huh?  I served myself a semi large portion, fully aware it was slightly too much, and just figured I’d “stop when I was satisfied.”  Ha, yea right!  Not when pasta is involved.  I ended up leaving about four orecchiette and a few scattered peas on the plate…guess that counts for something.
tips All joking aside, eating smaller or lets say, appropriate portion sizes is something I’ve been really focusing on lately.  Even if I have too much “healthy” food, too much is still too much.  I know smaller portions are key to maintaining my weight (or losing weight for that matter).  So over the past year or so I’ve been trying to find ways to eat less, but still feel satisfied physically and mentally.  Since I know for a fact that I’m not the only one with this love of large portions, I figured I’d share my tips and sneaky tricks for smaller portions and eating less, plus a few for overall good nutrition pointers.

  1. Use smaller plates.  I’ve been doing this for a while.  I serve all our meals (with the exception of dinner parties) on our “salad plates,” which are 8″ instead of the traditional 12″.  At first it was an obvious cut down in the amount of food.  But now that I’ve been doing it for a while, my big plates seem so huge.  
  2. Slow down.  My family is notorious for demolishing a meal in 5 minutes.  Physically, this fast chow down doesn’t give your body a chance to recognize its had enough.  So I try to take my time, talk, put my fork down, etc.  This was incredibly hard for me at first, but it becomes more of a habit the longer you do it.  Now I can eat less because I give my stomach enough time to tell me it’s full.
  3. Listen to your body.  Speaking of stomach cues, your body is an excellent monitor.  It knows exactly how much food you need and will tell you when it’s enough.  But you have to listen carefully.  This also took me a while to figure out.  But now I constantly look for the subtle mental and physical cues my body gives me to know I’m done eating.  I don’t wait until I feel “full.”  It’s a hard feeling to describe, but if you eat slowly enough, you’ll feel it.
  4. Outta sight, outta mind.  So this Easter I was kinda “bad.”  In the sense that I enjoyed one too many jelly beans and M & M’s peanut butter eggs (those things are SO good!).  Anyways, the problem there was that my Mom put candy out everywhere.  I couldn’t get it out of my sight.  I can go in with the mentality of “don’t binge on candy” but the longer I stare at it, the more my will power wanes.  At home, I don’t have anything out – ‘cept a fruit bowl.  That way I don’t have to constantly stare at food and tell myself not to eat it constantly.
  5. Keep a good mantra.  Over the years I’ve heard many a saying to help people eat less, pick healthier choices, snack less, etc.  One of my favorites, is actually something and RD said to a colleague at an office party.  He was asking if it was healthy to have a piece of cake.  Her response – “if you really, really want it, then eat it.  But if you’re just eating it because it’s there and everybody else is eating it, then don’t.”  So simple, but so smart!  Here are two more good ones – “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”  “Moderate sized bodies come from moderate sizes meals.”

I hope you try out some of these tips.  They’ve really helped me stick to healthy eating, appropriate portion sizes and great nutrition!

You tell me!  What are some tricks you use to stick to portion sizes?  What’s the hardest health habit you had to change?  Share you mantra!


  1. The Candid RD

    April 5, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Oh I like that mantra. I like to ask myself this; “is the only thing I really want to eat right now something sweet?” If the answer is yes, and it’s in the middle of the day, then clearly I’m not really hungry. If I were truly hungry than ANYTHING would sound good!

    • mewinebrenner

      April 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

      That is so true! I need to ask myself that more often!

  2. Simply Life

    April 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Great tips! We always use salad plates too and now the regular ones always look enormous! I need to get better at putting my fork down between bites and slowing down while I eat!

    • mewinebrenner

      April 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks! Putting your fork down really really helps. I try to drink water between bites so I’m not just sitting there staring at my food!

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