Tips for Serving Foods to Help You Eat Less
Learn to recognize signals that may make you want to eat more—and how to control them
PAUSE FOR A MOMENT
Just thinking about food can make you want to eat. Ask yourself these 5 questions to see if you react to the sight, smell, or thought of food.
- Do you feel like eating dessert when it looks good, even if you aren’t hungry?
- Do you always have room for something you like?
- Do you get excited about a buffet?
- If you drive by a bakery or fast-food restaurant and smell food, do you want to eat?
- Do you feel like eating when you see a picture of a yummy dessert in a magazine or on TV?
If you answered yes to these questions, you may be sensitive to certain signals, such as the sight, smell, or suggestion of food. You’re not alone; there are millions like you, in all shapes and sizes. It’s good to know this, because limiting your contact with food may help you control your eating.
KNOW HOW YOU REACT TO "FOOD SIGNALS"
There are ways to control your eating when you are exposed to food signals. Some tips we offer can apply to you more than others; some may work for you and some won’t—or, you may find other ways that work for you. You can limit your contact with these food signals using the following strategies:
- Start your meal with a small salad or a cup of soup. Salads or broth-based soups generally are low in calories. People who eat salad or soup before their meals tend to feel full earlier, eat less food, and take in less calories
- Serve yourself a smaller portion. Serve yourself only one portion of food at a time. If you want 2 pieces of toast, make one and eat it before making another. If you want a container of yogurt, put half of it in a bowl and return for the second half if you still want it. You may pass up the second portion because you’re not hungry. Doing this can help you separate hunger from habit. Just because you’ve eaten one container of yogurt every morning for the last 10 years doesn’t mean you need that amount every day. Consult with your healthcare provider
- Follow the 5-minute rule. Wait 5 minutes before going back for extra helpings. This can help you eat slower and can give you time to decide how much more food you really need
- Remove serving dishes from the table. After first helpings, remove the serving dishes from the table. Having the food handy is asking for trouble. If the food dishes are in another room or on a counter top, you can decide if you are still hungry before taking more. This doesn’t mean you cannot have seconds, but it can stop you from automatically eating what is left on the serving dishes
- Leave the table after eating. This may sound antisocial, but for some people, leaving the table after they finish eating is helpful. This limits contact with food. If you finish your meal earlier than others at the table, you may be eating too fast; slowing down will help. If not, maybe others at the table can join you in another room after the meal. This strategy can complement our previous suggestion to remove serving dishes from the table. If all the dishes are gone, you may not need to leave the table because your contact with food signals will be low
- Avoid being a food dispenser for others. Do you prepare all the food at home? Do the kids get their snacks from you? If so, it isn’t helpful because your routine can put you in contact with food many times each day. Have the children pack their own lunches, if possible. Your spouse may also be willing to help by taking on some of your food duties