how to eat less: the art and science of portion control

From Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Four Tips for Regular People:

  1. Get small plates. I use my sons’ Nemo and dinosaur plates.
  2. Practice Chewdaism. Hard-core chewers recommend as many as fifty chews per mouthful. I strive for fifteen or twenty.
  3. Turn off the TV. Studies show that we eat up to 71 percent more when we’re watching TV.
  4. Put the fork down in between bites.

Six Tips for the Obsessed:

  1. Bring your own tiny fork wherever you go. Or better yet, chopsticks.
  2. Repackage your pantry food (e.g., cookies, dried fruit, candy) into small Ziploc bags, so a portion is barely larger than the dime bags that pot dealers used back in the innocent eighties.
  3. Write a hundred-dollar check to the KKK. Or any other equally noxious group. Then make a deal with yourself or your friend: if you eat another Ho Ho, you will have to spend that check off.
  4. Look at yourself. Research shows we eat less when we eat in front of a mirror.
  5. Respect your elder. Digitally age a photo of yourself (you can try Keep it in your wallet so that you’ll remember to eat for your future self.
  6. Consume an apple, a bowl of soup with cayenne pepper, two glasses of water, and a handful of nuts. They have all been shown to suppress the appetite. Some more details below, starting with the one I found most effective, and ending with the one I found least effective.
  • Apple: A Penn State study showed that those who ate an apple fifteen minutes before lunch consumed 187 fewer calories than those who had applesauce.
  • Nuts: Or beans. Or pretty much any protein makes you feel full longer than carbs. Which is why I force eggs on my kids in the morning.
  • Water: A Virginia Tech study found that drinking two eight ounce glasses of water before a meal helped obese people lose weight.
  • Cayenne pepper: Spicy foods might help us lose weight, partly by curbing our urge for sugary, salty, and fatty foods. A Purdue University study showed cayenne pepper lowered appetite.
  • Soup: Another Penn State study recommended a small bowl of clear soup, such as bouillon, before a meal. The soup eaters consumed 134 fewer calories.

About Annika Voelpel

* former director of health & fitness programs at the sutton place hotel * former head therapist of duquette strength clinic * entering 10th year as a professional trainer * registered kinesiologist and active-rehabilitation specialist * level 1 track & field, gymnastics, dance, and aquatics coach * certified in the postural reprogramming system (PRS) * certified pilates instructor and acupressure massage practitioner * sports nutrition and healthy-cooking expert * seminar speaker and former presenter at the global youth assembly * former national level gymnast and competitive dancer * former varsity track and field competitor * experienced fitness model
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3 Responses to how to eat less: the art and science of portion control

  1. This is GREAT! Portion control (and environment) has been something I’ve been working on for a long time. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Amber says:

    Great help!
    I am going to put these into practice this next week and see how I do.

    Thanks from Amber

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