I don’t usually dictate portions for my clients. When we rely on measuring utensils and scales, we risk developing perfectionist-type tendencies that often create unsustainable habits. Rather, I teach my clients how to reconnect to their innate feelings of fullness. In other words, we learn how to control portions from within.

The “serving size” listed on packages is a good place to start, however, these servings are not always appropriate and most often, they’re impractical. For example, “an ounce of chips” is hardly satisfying. Similarly, a “100-calorie snack pack” is rarely enough. Furthermore, dishes when dining out are often larger than usual ” serving sizes,” and in these instances, we’re forced to depend on our physical sensations of fullness.

Learn how to dictate your portions using mindful eating techniques that help to increase your attunement to feeling fullness and satisfaction. Here are a few tips to consider:

#1: Balance is Key

Especially for snack-type foods like chips, pretzels, fruit, and popcorn, these are often unsatisfying when eaten alone. Incorporate these foods as part of a balanced meal or snack to encourage a satisfying experience. This will allow you to mindfully eat and as a result, feel fullness appropriately.

#2: Avoid Mindless Eating

When possible, make your meals and snacks the focus of your attention. Save your screen time for afterward. Tune into your food; from its tastes and its textures to its aromas and its appearance. This will help you feel fullness as it approaches. Working on your “mindful muscle” prepares you for instances when serving sizes may not be clear… such as when dining at restaurants.

#3: Practice Visualization

A few well-known visualizations can help you start the process of natural portion control. However, even these can be arbitrary and impractical (1 ounce of chocolate may be a “standard serving,” but it’s just not enough for my sweet tooth!). A few examples include:

  • One serving of meat, fish, poultry measures about the palm of your hand or a deck of cards
  • One serving of nuts measures about a handful
  • Once serving of seed or nut butter measures about the size of a golf ball
  • One serving of fresh fruit measures the size of a tennis ball
  • Two servings of cooked vegetables measure about the size of your fist