Practicing portion control can help you learn to be satisfied eating less food, which can help you both physically and financially. The Weight Control Information Network recommends that you learn the difference between a serving and a portion -- although those words are often used interchangeably -- a serving size is the amount of food listed on the nutrition facts of the label and a portion is the amount of food you choose to eat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people tend to unintentionally consume more calories when they are served more food. Portions can easily be double the amount that you should actually eat, meaning you'll consume double the calories. According to the National Institutes of Health, twenty years ago, a typical serving of spaghetti was 1 cup of noodles with sauce and three small meatballs, totaling a healthy 500 calories. Today, a serving of spaghetti is often 2 cups of pasta with sauce and three large meatballs, containing more than 1,000 calories, which can be more than half of your daily calorie allotment for the day. As the American Cancer Society states, eating smaller portions can be the easiest way to cut calories. By trimming portion sizes, you can cut down on hundred of calories per meal, leading to weight loss or weight maintenance.
Eating large meals can leave you feeling tired and sluggish, due to blood sugar spikes and dips. When you digest a meal, glucose is released into your bloodstream. In response, your body releases insulin, which clears the glucose from your bloodstream by allowing it to enter into cells and be used for energy. When a large meal is eaten, your body releases a huge amount of insulin to clear the surge of glucose entering into the bloodstream. Once the glucose is cleared, you may suffer from a glucose crash, which leads to a feeling of lethargy. Eating smaller, more frequent meals, however, can help to ensure your blood sugar is kept at a steady level, as suggested by . Small meals are not associated with the huge glucose/insulin surge or corresponding dips, meaning your energy levels are kept even throughout the day.
Eating smaller meals doesn't just mean improved health -- eating less will also help you to save money. When eating out, ordering an appetizer for meal can be much less expensive than ordering a large dinner. If you just can't pass up the large dinner, eating half and saving half for another meal can also contribute to cost savings. The concept works for dining in, too; by only eating one serving of food for a meal or snack, you will have leftovers for other meals or snacks leading to less frequent trips to the grocery store.
Whether eating in or dining out, there are simple ways to cut portions to save calories and money. When dining out, choose the smallest of the portions offered, whether it's an appetizer, lunch-size entree or small fast food order. When at home, don't be tempted to snack out of the package when enjoying foods such as chips, cookies, crackers or candy. Instead, read the nutrition label to determine what a serving is and serve yourself that amount in a dish. At meal time, dish your food onto smaller salad plates that don't hold as much food. You can also limit portions by serving yourself in the kitchen, rather than having second helpings right in front of you at the table.