Portions Aren’t a Small Thing

It seems like a small thing when you think about it. After all, we should easily be able to control the amount of food we put it our bodies. When I was morbidly obese, well-meaning friends would often tell me, “It’s really simple. It’s all about moderating your portion sizes!”

It seems like a small thing when you think about it. After all, we should easily be able to control the amount of food we put it our bodies. When I was morbidly obese, well-meaning friends would often tell me, “It’s really simple. It’s all about moderating your portion sizes!”

I’d look at them and think, “It’s simple for you. But it’s hard for me to eat just one portion of the foods I love the most.” And unfortunately, the foods I loved the most were not baby carrots and apples. The foods I loved the most were high in fat, calories, and sugar.


When I began my final weight-loss journey, I remembered their advice and decided to start practicing proper portion control. It was hard at first. I began by learning what a portion of common foods looked like. I used visual cues, such as a serving of pasta shouldn’t be larger than my fist, and a correct portion of cheese was no bigger than a domino.

I measured out cereals, fruits, crackers, and weighed my chicken pieces. Time after time, I was shocked at how small a normal portion was. I was embarrassed when I finally acknowledged to myself that I had been eating 4 or 5 times the amount of food I should have been to maintain my body weight.

During the year of my weight-loss journey, portion control became a part of my new lifestyle. The first month or 2 I fought with myself over the desire to eat more than I should. But I quickly learned that if I ate the proper portion sizes of healthy foods then the scale would move in the right direction much faster than if I continued eating entire sleeves of chocolate chip cookies!

The scale moving was great, but even more rewarding was the feeling of control I began to experience. In the 10 years I had struggled with obesity, I never felt in control of my food choices. Instead, I felt frustrated with myself when I couldn’t seem to stop eating foods I knew I didn’t even need to be consuming in the first place. After all, no one needs ice cream every day!

Every time I made a good portion choice, it was like putting a puzzle together. Eventually enough right choices created a picture of a woman who was eating proper portions of healthy foods and looked better than ever. It was a picture I loved looking at.

If you are on your own journey to get healthier, I’d encourage you to look closely at your portion sizes. Take a few days, and weigh and measure everything you put in your mouth. You may be surprised as I was to learn what a portion of your favorite foods really looks like.

Taking control over my portions was one of the keys to my success. And after maintaining my 158 pound weight loss for 12 years, I’d also have to say it was one of the best lessons I ever learned.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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