Portion control

“Eat the right things…Eat the right amount of those things”

Many of us have forgotten how much food is “enough” because of the sheer abundance of food today. Just some of the reasons for this include:

  • We should “clear the plate”
  • Portion sizes in shops/restaurants have increased over time

We hardly ever eat because of hunger, but because of tradition, habit, culture, social cues etc. This disconnect has led many people to develop various “eating styles”.  This is why, in the food diary, we ask you to make a note of your emotions/feelings around your meals.

Eating styles

How we feel has a huge impact on what we eat and how.

Our eating style says a lot about us.  Do you recognise any of the following eating styles?

  • Unconscious eating – Eating while doing something else at the same time. eg – grabbing a snack while watching a movie or working at a spreadsheet.
  • Chaotic eating – Where you are too busy to stop to eat. eg – grabbing a Gregs on the way to work because you didn’t have time to make a proper brekafast.
  • “Can’t say no” eating – When you can hear the food calling to you… eg – the chocolate is just sitting there, so obviously you have to eat it!
  • “I don’t want it going to waste” eating – When the food is cheap/free, so you may as well have it. eg – you weren’t going to buy any chocolate, but its Buy One Get One Free, so it would be rude not to!
  • Emotional eating – When you are feeling strong emotions and food comforts you. eg – you are depressed so eat all the ice cream, or your team just won the championships, so you drink everything.
  • Careful eating – When you want to get fit/healthy, so must…not…be…bad! eg – when you weigh/measure everything that passes your lips, but you accidentally have one too many olives, so you must punish yourself with an extra 3 hours of cardio!
  • Professional dieting – When you have tried every diet book in the library. eg – you jump from one diet to the next, depending on the last article you read… but you never actually achieve anything.

The hunger scale

This is a rough and ready way to figure out if you are actually hungry or not.

The Hunger Scale

Before and during your meal, ask yourself:

“On a scale of 1-10, how full do I feel right now?”

It won’t work first time. It will take a few goes to get the feel of things, but with practice you will start to recognise what the different numbers on the scale mean to you, and just how hungry you really are.

  • Avoid reaching 1-2 on the scale. When we are very hungry, we tend to lose willpower and just eat the nearest, easiest thing available.
  • Avoid reaching 9-10 on the scale. There is no need for it. There is plenty of food available. This is just greedy.
  • When eating your meals, stop when you reach 8.


  • Slow your eating down, so you stop, breathe, look around and talk every mouthfuls.
  • Use the hunger scale above and stop when you reach number 8.
  • Use a smaller plate.
  • Choose multiple small servings, instead of one big one.
  • Keep food/drink out of sight, out of mind.
  • Load up your plate with plenty of veggies first.
  • Use spoons to measure out any dressings. 
  • Slow your eating down!

Your Fresh Start

Your Fresh Start

If you want or need help changing your eating and exercise habits for the better, make sure you click here to check out Your Fresh Start – My Healthy Behaviour Coaching programme to help you change your life for the better.