Healthypedia
Anna Scheucher

Portion Control: Why Is It Such A Big Deal?

As our waistlines expand and our health deteriorates, a silent hero has been overshadowed, waiting patiently to reclaim its rightful place in our culinary journey: portion control.

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Portion control is a problem that many people face nowadays. It’s become increasingly difficult to stick to what is deemed a regular portion size, and there are numerous reasons for that.

On the one hand, portions have become increasingly larger in recent years, making it difficult to stop eating when full. On top of that, convenience foods are often designed to be addictive and highly available, so people eat quickly and end up eating a lot more than what they actually need to feel satisfied.

However, for a lot of people, emotional eating and a lack of awareness also come into play when it comes to the question of why portion control is an issue.

Why portion control is so important

Now, even though portion control is incredibly important (and we will talk about why in just a second), it’s crucial to understand that, while portion control is 100% under your influence and can be tweaked, there is no reason to beat yourself up for struggling with this very issue up until this point. Food culture nowadays is designed to make it very difficult to listen to internal hunger and fullness cues, so give yourself some grace when implementing any tips in this article.

So, why is portion control so important for your health?

The most obvious thought that comes to mind right away is weight management and portion control plays a huge role in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. Not only will this help with feeling better and healthier, but it will also help to avoid health problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

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On top of that, portion control will help you to balance your nutrition out a lot more. By not overeating certain foods, you get the chance to eat a more balanced diet full of nutrients.

Now, we can’t talk about portion control without talking about digestion. It might sound logical, but eating gigantic portion sizes is not the best for your gut. That doesn’t mean you should eat tiny portions all day long, but eating way beyond what your body needs at that moment, can lead to bloating and other digestive issues because your body might not be able to digest your food properly.

Lastly, portion control can help extremely when it comes to mindful eating, which is the act of eating while being really present with your food, acknowledging the tastes and textures and eating only when hungry, and stopping when feeling full. This practice is amazing for both physical and mental health, and portion control plays a big role in that.

Problems that develop due to the lack of portion control

So, what really happens to your body when you overeat continuously? Why is a lack of portion control so bad for you? Here are some of the most prominent factors:

Weight gain

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When you continuously overeat, there is a high chance that you are consuming more calories than your body needs, which puts you in a caloric surplus. Over time, this surplus will inevitably lead to weight gain, and as mentioned earlier, this can lead to issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.

Increased risk of chronic diseases

This point goes hand in hand with what was just mentioned – a lack of portion control can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, etc.

Digestive issues

Not only will eating giant portion sizes leave you feeling uncomfortably full, but over time, this habit can cause issues such as constipation, acid reflux, or other digestive problems, because your body has problems processing huge amounts of food at a time.

Fatigue

Whenever you eat, your body will direct energy and blood toward your digestive tract in order to digest the food that was just eaten. The bigger the amount of food you eat at once, the more work your body has to do right away. This is the reason why after a big meal, you will feel sluggish and tired, which can be avoided by focusing on portion control.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is yet another key factor in why a lack of portion control can be terrible for your health. Eating a lot of food, especially carbohydrates, at once, leads to a spike in blood glucose. When your blood sugar levels are constantly very high, your body’s receptors for glucose become less accurate, leaving a lot of glucose in the blood, which over time can be a risk for type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation

Due to all of these negative implications of overeating, your body can also become inflamed as a result of overeating and lacking portion control. Not only is this bad for your current state of health, but over time, this can cause negative implications.

How to move out of this habit – healthy ways to control portions

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Now that you know why portion control is crucial for your health, how can you begin to implement it?

Let’s take a look at a few tips for implementing healthier habits:

1Use smaller plates

It might sound silly, but using smaller plates can actually help you to be more mindful of portion control when eating. Using a smaller plate makes your plate look fuller, sending signals to your brain that you are getting more food than you are. Not only does it work on a subconscious level, but it adds an extra step when getting more food – it allows you to pause and ask, ‘Do I want another serving or am I full right now?’.

2Be more mindful of serving sizes

Serving sizes can look like a joke sometimes, especially when you realise that, on average, you eat a lot more than a single serving size of a product (especially cookies and chips, let’s be honest). Being more mindful of serving sizes can help to understand that maybe you don’t need the entire box of Oreos at once, and instead eat a couple of cookies and wait until later when you crave them again.

3Eat more slowly

We are a very fast-paced society. Eating on the go, while hurrying to the next appointment and gulping down the food, can cause us to overeat without realising it. The thing is, your brain needs a little bit of time to tell your body that it is full, so the slower you eat, the more accurately you will be able to stop when feeling full.

4Enjoy your food without distractions

Lastly, and this goes hand in hand with eating more slowly, try to enjoy your food and eat without distractions. It’s a lot easier to overeat and dismiss portion control when eating while watching TV or scrolling through social media. Not only that, but you will not be truly satisfied, because your brain didn’t have time to really appreciate the food you are eating. If, instead, you focus on your food and savour it, you will realise that regular serving sizes are actually enough to satisfy your cravings.

Fun & curios facts

  • There is a thing called the ‘French Paradox’, which refers to the fact that the French have much lower rates of heart disease and obesity, even though they consume a lot of high-fat foods and wine due to their smaller portion sizes and the fact that they savour their food.

  • Have you heard of the ‘Portion Size Effect’? Researchers have found that people will eat more when presented with large portions, even if they aren’t hungry!

  • Over the past few decades, food sizes have increased tremendously. For example, a typical bagel has changed from 3 inches to 6 inches in diameter!

Let’s sum up

Portion Control is incredibly important in order to live a healthy and balanced life. Whether you are struggling with portion control or simply want to become a tad more mindful when it comes to eating, focusing on the portion sizes of the food you eat can massively improve your life.

The good news? You don’t have to start with anything crazy, small changes can yield incredible results when it comes to this topic.

And the best part about it all? Once you learn portion control, you will realise that you can enjoy all your favourite foods in balanced amounts without needing to restrict yourself!


Healthypedia FAQ

Because portion control has become increasingly difficult with restaurants offering bigger portion sizes, unhealthy food becoming more available, and processed food being very addicting.

Because it will allow you to maintain a healthy weight, avoid health risks and simply feel your best.

Use smaller plates, eat more mindfully and without distractions, eat slower, and learn to enjoy your food.

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