This morning I gave a presentation to group of business leaders. And at the end I fielded questions from the attendees. And as is usually the case many of the questions had to do with nutrition.
One individual in particular asked for some help with portion control.
He said ‘I eat fairly healthy, I just eat too much’. What should I do?
This is not an uncommon problem many people face. They eat more than they know they should but find it hard to break the habit. And the answer to this guy’s problem is not to start weighing and measuring all his meals. Because although there are some people that will take the time and effort to do this, most will not.
And I want to provide solutions that will help the most people. I want to provide solutions that are easiest for most people to incorporate into their lives. And I want to provide solutions that don’t require an additional investment in time and money.
I know that’s asking a lot but if we can find a solution that satisfies all of these conditions than we probably have something that will be easy to get started on and continue with.
Curious what the tip was?
It was to use smaller serving plates.
And the reason is most people don’t weigh and measure their food. Most people don’t count their calories. And many people grew up in an era to finish everything on their plate.
So does this work?
Yes, it does. And it reminds me of a research study (I’ll dig up the citation for anyone that wants it) where a group of people were divided in half. The entire group was going to watch a movie and eat popcorn. Half of the group were given a small cup of popcorn. (imagine the Dixie cup you get at the dentist’s office) Now while this cup would only hold a couple of mouthfuls of popcorn this group was allowed to go to the back of the room as many times as possible to refill their cup of popcorn.
The other group of people watching the movie were each given a garbage pail full of popcorn. They were given more popcorn than one person could eat in a week let alone during a movie.
The key thing to recognize here is that both group were able to eat unlimited amounts of popcorn.
At the end of the movie the group with garbage pail of popcorn ate substantially more popcorn than the group with the Dixie cup that could be refilled as many times as they like.
So for the individual looking to reduce his portions this would be easiest thing for him to start doing. Instead of using a regular plate he should switch to a smaller plate. And if he needs to cut back further he could always to using a saucer.
What this study tells us is this guy will start eating fewer calories.
I like it when you can take the same idea and manipulate it somehow to get more effectiveness out of the idea.
Here’s how it works.
For everything that is good for you and that you are deficient (nutritionally) than you should use the largest dish or cup you can.
For example, if you never seem to drink enough water than first of all you need to start carrying a water bottle. Better yet, you should dig up the biggest water bottle you can find. The fine print is only do this with foods that are good for you and that you don’t eat enough of already.
A simple solution for portion control. And you can have your popcorn and eat it too.