Since incorporating more strength training into my fitness routine, first with Best Body Bootcamp and now with T25, I definitely feel a lot stronger. Even my running has improved. And there’s absolutely no way I would’ve been able to complete the Tough Mudder without it.

However, as I mentioned in my Focus T25 week 4 review, I personally don’t think I look any different. And the scale has stayed the same for a while now too (which is fine). Honestly, this doesn’t bother me all that much because I know that by working out and eating healthy, I am doing good things for my body whether it shows or not. But it does make me think – why haven’t I seen even a small change?

Well, after days of pondering that question, I think I have an answer. I have a portion size problem. Basically, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

Let me start off by saying that I love to eat. I have never been (except for period of time in my early twenties) one to shy away from food. And while I prefer to eat mostly healthy meals, I love delicious decadent foods as well. And that is a balance I think I have under control.

Let me walk through an example to illustrate what I don’t have under control.

On a typical day…

  • I drink a protein shake for breakfast, and everything is perfectly measured out because I like it to taste a certain way.
  • RED FLAG #1 – I normally don’t eat a snack between breakfast and lunch, so when lunchtime finally rolls around, I’m hungry…not starving…but hungry. I go home and throw something together – no measurements, just eyeball everything. And if anything, I am an over-eyeballer – a little too much cheese, more beans than I can probably stomach, a few too many veggies, a few extra squirts of a given condiment, etc.
  • Sometimes I’ll eat a small snack in the afternoon, usually a piece of fruit. If I wait until I get home, it’s a small bowl of yogurt with slivered almonds or carrots and hummus. No issues here.
  • RED FLAG #2 – Then comes dinnertime. When I cook at home, our meals are pretty healthy, so it’s not the quality of what I make that’s the problem…it’s how much I serve myself (which is more than I should). And the issue is that when food is on my plate (and it tastes pretty good), I like to eat it all. I rarely go back for seconds because I serve myself too much to start with.
  • RED FLAG #3 – My love for chocolate runs deep…a little too deep perhaps. After eating a savory meal, I like to have a few bites of something sweet. When we’re at home, the something sweet is usually a “few” dark chocolate chips. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating the serving size, but when you go back for seconds and sometimes thirds, you’re crossing a line. I am happy to report that I now have this somewhat under control. I no longer eat chocolate chips after dinner and instead opt for fruit or a date dipped in a tiny bit of peanut butter.

I think the whole controlling portion sizes when eating at home is going to be a somewhat easy fix. I just need to be better about serving myself a more reasonable amount of food with the understanding that I can always go back for seconds if I want.

What’s going to be a lot harder is controlling portion sizes when eating out. As we all know, most American restaurants serve waaaay more than one serving size. And unfortunately, my problem is that I somehow end up eating most of the food on my plate. But not because I am hungry, more so because I’m not paying attention to how much I’m eating and my internal hunger cues. I’d rather chit chat!

A good example to highlight what I’m talking about actually happened the other night. Vishnu’s cousin and his wife were in town earlier this week, and after giving them a tour of our neighborhood, we headed to our favorite local Italian restaurant for dinner. I ordered the eggplant parm, which came with a side of pasta. Well, not only was this dish finger licking good, it was huge. I didn’t touch the pasta at all, but I definitely ate all of the eggplant. And the funny thing is that about half way through I remember thinking to myself, “I am fullllllll.” But instead of packing up half the dish and talking it home, I ate it all.

And this isn’t a one-time thing (I can share plenty recent examples from my recent trip to NYC). But here’s the thing, I’m never going to be one of those people who orders a side salad and an appetizer as her main course (unless the salad and appetizer sound better than anything else on the menu). I’m also not going to ask for a to go container at the start of the meal so that I can pack up half of my dish before I even begin. It’s not necessary (for me) and it’s not me.

I think the solution is actually a pretty simple one in theory – I need to be more mindful and present when eating. And when my body says stop, I need to stop. That’s it. Now, it’s the actual doing part that’s going to be a little harder. But I have to try, right?!

A lot of people tell me I’m so disciplined when it comes to what I eat. And while I am kind of picky about the ingredients I buy and the way I cook at home, the bottom line is that I LOVE FOOD. And when there’s good food in front of me, my discipline often goes to the wayside.

And it’s not just about seeing changes in my body that reflect the amount of effort I put into my workouts (although right now it’s a big part of why I want to get my potion problem under control). I also hate the feeling of being too full after meal. If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I feel like my stomach is going to explode. Not fun and kind of gross.

My action plan is pretty simple – pay attention to my hunger levels and eat accordingly. There’s no need to eat all the food because there’s always a next time.

I’ll be sure to write a follow-up post in a month or so to address how things are going. Cross your fingers for me!

Does anyone else have this problem? Any tips/tricks?

By Parita

8 thoughts on “I Have a Portion Size Problem”
  1. I understand this 100%! I love food and I love to eat. One thing I do is only keep healthy snacks around (this conclude dark chocolate). I won’t actually leave the house or a treat once I’m home. When I’m out, I try to remember to have a mint of piece of gum to signal to myself I’m done eating. This is something I need to get back in the habit of, actually.
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…France: What I Ate (and Drank) in BurgundyMy Profile

  2. Same story here – only in the reverse way. I’m okay at checking in with my actual hunger and fullness when at restaurants but not at all when at home. It’s something I’ve been trying to work on more consciously again lately, too. Because like you I’ve experienced the ‘about to burst’ feeling more often than I care to admit and clearly don’t enjoy it one bit.
    Regarding tips for eating out: Do you feel it might have to do with the others around you eating everything, too? How about putting down your fork, bringing up a new topic in the conversation you’re having at the point you think you’re full, engaging in it and then deciding if you still want to eat more? And maybe getting a box for your leftovers at that point after all? I don’t like the idea of wasting food, either, but restaurants don’t really offer the option to bag leftovers around here.
    Mindfullness – at home or when eating out – takes time to practice but it’s worth it. Fingers crossed for both of us.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted…Breaking breakfast habits and sun[chokes]My Profile

  3. very nicely written because i run into this problem on a daily basis as well. i go through phases with eating really good and then not so good. portion control has always been an issue for me too..i just try to be more mindful and make smaller changes.
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health recently posted…Recent HappeningsMy Profile

  4. I am not gonna be much help in this – I confess sometimes I eat less of a meal when I know the dessert is good…actually, that’s not sometimes but all the time! GAH!
    Kudos to you for recognizing your portion problems – one thing I do do on those rare easy days at work and feel the urge to snack when not bogged down with deadlines, is I chew gum – I have been trying to stop and chew less than I used to but it nips the munchies in the bud – as does coffee after a meal!
    Shashi @ RunninSrilankan recently posted…Chocolate Soup!My Profile

  5. That picture gets to me every time – hilarious! I completely share your love for food and there’s a lot of time when I’m eating out that I’ll keep eating past fullness because it just tastes so good..especially with dessert! While this might not worth for everyone, one thing that helps me keep my portion sizes in check is whipping out the food scales once in a while. The rest of the time I eyeball, but I know for me it’s all too easy to let portion sizes unknowingly creep up over time, hungry or not!

  6. I can definitely relate to this, and I often think alot has to do with my upbringing of finishing everything on a plate. I think I’ve slowly worked out what a typical meal portion is like for me at dinner when I cook so I have the standard protein, starch and veg and eat it all, regardless of hunger cues.

    The fact that I’m on the computer now with dinner by my side….oops.
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…I’ll let you PIN me if I misbehave….PinterestMy Profile

  7. Haha this is me! If my plate looks healthy then I feel like I should be able to eat as much as I want- this is not the case. I try to do 1/2 plate veggies, 1/2 whole grains, 1/2 protein but it ends up being the other way around sometimes.
    Tara recently posted…Westfield Food TastemakersMy Profile

  8. I think we all struggle with this from time to time…I avoid eating out of packaging (chips), try not to stock things that I can’t stop eating (chips), and try to control portion sizes of everything by using a smaller size plate.

    This has worked for me for the past few years…although I can’t stop eating the chocolate after dinner, no matter what….
    Ameena recently posted…thank you DeltaMy Profile

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