Portion Control at Home: I Always Wanted the Biggest Piece

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big plate food

When I was a 300-pound woman years and years ago, I was always concerned about what food I was going to eat and how much I could have.

Would John and I go out to eat for lunch and/or dinner?

Would I take a secret trip through the McDonald’s drive thru after I went grocery shopping?

Would I be able to have the most food on my plate at dinner? 

I thought a lot about food and sometimes planned my day around what, when, and where I would eat.

If we weren’t going out to dinner that night, I’d do what millions of other people do every day. Stand in the kitchen and cook a meal for my family. Once I finally learned to cook, I found that I liked to try new recipes and experiment with different foods.

It turns out that it is a good thing that I know how to cook and like it considering we went on to have four more children after I lost all my weight. When I made meals for the family, I always thought about how much I would get. I’d look at the pan of chicken cordon bleu as it came out of the oven and mentally divide the meal into “their” portions and “mind.”

Mine were always the biggest. I am kind of ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. I always wanted to be sure that I had the most food on my plate.

I made sure this happened by being the one who served out the meals. I’d lay out the plates, dole out everyone’s food, saving my plate for last.  I’d load up my plate with the biggest piece of chicken or largest serving of pasta I could get away with, making sure to spoon plenty of sauce on top of it.  As we ate, I’d find myself surreptitiously watching everyone else eat, wondering if they would want more, or could I have the rest?  If they wanted more, I’d give it to them, but then I’d remind myself that there was plenty of chocolate cake sitting on the counter for me!

Dessert time came, and once again, the largest piece of cake or pie was reserved for me. To make matters worse for my weight, I’d also take little slivers of the cake and pop them in my mouth while I served everyone else their piece. That’s the cook’s privilege – right?

When I think back on that time in my life, I realize that I likely ate about twice as much as John did. I was so obsessed with food that I always ate more than I needed and served myself the largest portions of everything (except vegetables).

I changed that habit as I lost weight. I realized that my portion sizes were directly correlated to the number of calories I ate and decided to make a swift change.

I learned what appropriate portion sizes looked like and worked on reducing how often I thought about food. That took a lot of practice but over time I conquered it.

The concept of portion control at restaurants is important, but controlling your portions at home is equally as important. It is all part of the retraining process that naturally takes place as you shed extra pounds and change your life.

Learning to be satisfied with the right portion of food whether it is a small piece of dessert or a great whole wheat roll has made weight maintenance easier on me.

How do you do with portion control at home? Did you ever worry that other people were getting more than you were? Diane


  1. Mary Margaret says

    Hi Diane,
    This post made me weep. Not only do I relate to this completely, my tears were also came from gratitude because as I read, I found that it was not only me who did this. Thank you, I do not feel so ashamed and alone.
    Mary M

  2. says

    I struggle with this all the time. Granted since I started dieting again, its been better. But I still struggle with it. I’ve often thought about buying one of those portion control plates! Or at least a food scale for more accurate proportions. Thank you for posting this. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my thoughts.

  3. says

    I always serve my meals on a smaller plate than my husband. That way, I still feel like I’m getting a lot, because the plate is smaller, so the portion is smaller! I trick my brain.

    I use to and in some ways, am still obsessed with food. I eat breakfast and then think about lunch and then think about what I’m going to have for dinner. It sometimes irks my husband and in one way, it’s good, because plan healthy meals and know if I’m going to eat out for one meal, I plan healthy for the next one. In other ways, I know it’s a cycle I need to break. Still something I work on daily.
    Shannon recently posted…Weekly Battle Recap 40: Anotha Day, Anotha DollaMy Profile

  4. says

    I hate counting calories, but I don’t mind practicing portion control. In the end, I think it accomplishes the same thing, except with regards to heavy sauces and extra calorie-packed foods. I also report my foods to a friend most days. Vigilance and willingness are two principles that have helped me get better.
    L recently posted…3 Fears I have for my FriendMy Profile

  5. says

    I eat way more than I should – portion control is my weakest area (and the fact that I don’t always eat enough during the day so I’m starving by dinner). I try to justify it by all my work outs but…
    Kim recently posted…Friday Happy HourMy Profile

  6. says

    Great post! Even having lost my weight, I still look to food to provide bright spots in my day. I wish I were one of those people who get so involved in something they forget to eat!

  7. says

    I grew up with not enough food (even though we could afford it, my mom had an eating disorder that she took out on us, and there were times I ate fish food and dog food because I was that hungry) so I learned to hoard. It took a long time to break that hoarding pattern of hiding food, and I admit when I cooked something I liked it was hard to not “get enough”, but when it came to my kids I wouldn’t take anything away from them because I knew what that was like. Instead, I just got really anxious about it or started over-cooking just to make sure I’d have enough (and enough was WAY more than I needed, or even could eat. Enough meant having some left overs, because it was reassuring to know there would be enough.)

    I’m MUCH better now, but breaking that hoarding was how I started losing weight in the first place, I think. I still struggle, and those tapes and patterns are still there. It’s hard to let go of food, and even weirder to have worried about not getting enough to the point of obesity and realizing I was eating more than my fair share. Painful, really.
    Kyra recently posted…For The StarsMy Profile

    • says

      Oh, and smaller plates and bowls? They’re the ticket for me too. They make me feel like my plate is overflowing (which may be an avoidance of the issue rather than overcoming it, but hey, it works!)
      Kyra recently posted…For The StarsMy Profile

  8. says

    I’ve always eaten pretty healthy foods, and when I gained a lot of weight at one point, it was all because my portion sizes had become way too big.

    To turn things around, I started eating my dinner on dessert plates and use small ramekins instead of bowls for splurge foods. I also count out nuts, etc. Basically, I try to be very mindful whenever I eat something and keeping portion size under control is always on my mind.
    Andrea@WellnessNotes recently posted…Weekly Meal Prep 101My Profile

  9. says

    This is a really good point. I have struggled with it in the past. But, I’ve gotten much better with realizing that if I eat it slowly I am happy with only a few tastes of something. I eat dark chocolate at home now and I’ve gotten to the point where I can break off 1 oz. of dark chocolate and eat it and then stop. There was a time I couldn’t have done that. But, I realize now that I like it just as much if I eat a predetermined small amount as when I would eat all of it.
    Kitty recently posted…Up and Down and UpMy Profile

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