Eating out often causes stress and anxiety for individuals who are watching their weight and trying to eat healthily. With a little practice at home, though, you can learn how to estimate serving sizes and then use this skill when eating out.
Measure the food, put it on a typical plate or in a bowl, and then take a good look at it. Note how much room it takes and how high it is piled. You can start out by measuring foods all the time and then taper off to just once a week or when you need to check a certain food. I wouldn’t recommend doing it on a regular basis, because it can become an obsessive habit, and as you point out, it is not easily transferable to other situations. You’ll find that with practice, you’ll be able to “eyeball” portion sizes accurately.
Another important tip when eating out is to decide how much you’re going to eat before “digging in.” Once you’ve received your meal, decide if the portion size is appropriate. Restaurant portions are usually excessive! Remove some of the food from your plate until you feel you have reached the proper portion sizes. Be sure to give the food to your dining companion or ask the waiter to remove it so that you won’t be tempted. If you prefer, you can take your leftovers home in a “doggie bag” for a meal tomorrow.
When eating at a buffet, plan what you are going to eat and take food for each course just once! It’s very easy to lose perspective on how much you have eaten if you fill your plate a number of times with small amounts rather than seeing your full meal at once.
And finally, enjoy your meal. If you do overeat, don’t berate yourself. Just get right back on track eating healthily with the next meal!
Article by: Judy Chodirker, RD, MHSc