As we age, maintaining a healthy diet becomes increasingly more important for our overall well-being. With our metabolism slowing down and our body needing extra nutrients, it’s vital to establish good eating habits. One key aspect of a healthy diet is portion control. Proper portion control helps seniors maintain a healthy weight, prevent overeating, and reduce the risk of chronic health conditions. We know it’s easier said than done, especially during the holiday season. But here are some practical portion control tips for seniors on managing portion sizes effectively and making informed choices when it comes to their meals.
Be Mindful of Serving Sizes
Understanding serving sizes is the first step to portion control. Familiarize yourself with standard serving sizes for different food groups. The MyPlate model, which divides a plate into sections for fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains, can be a helpful visual guide. Reading nutrition labels can also provide information on serving sizes for packaged foods. Click here to learn how to read a nutritional label.
Use Smaller Plates and Bowls
Studies have shown that using smaller plates and bowls can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are. Opt for smaller dishware to help control portion sizes. This simple trick can make a significant difference in your overall calorie intake.
Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals in advance allows you to control portion sizes and make healthier choices. Consider using a meal planning app or writing down your weekly meal plan. When you have a clear idea of what you’ll be eating, it’s easier to avoid overeating and make nutritious choices. Think about when you resorted to eating fast food or an unbalanced meal because it was quick. More times than not, it was probably due to a lack of meal planning. Plan ahead for healthy eating.
Divide Restaurant Meals
Restaurant portions are often much larger than you need when dining out. To control portion sizes, consider sharing a meal with a friend or asking for a to-go box before you even touch your food. Alternatively, choose appetizers or smaller dishes from the menu, or look for restaurants that offer smaller portion options, such as lunch portions.
Pay Attention to Hunger Cues
Your body talks. And when it does, you must listen to it and pay attention to hunger cues. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not when you’re overly full. Eating slowly and savoring each bite can help you recognize these cues and prevent overeating.
Portion Your Snacks
Snacking can be a challenge when it comes to portion control for seniors. To avoid mindlessly munching on snacks, portion them into small containers or snack-sized bags. This not only helps with portion control but also makes it easier to choose healthier snacks like nuts, fruits, or yogurt.
Be Wary of Liquid Calories
Beverages, especially sugary ones like soda and fruit juices, can contribute to excessive calorie intake. Instead, reach for water, herbal teas, or other low-calorie drinks to stay hydrated without adding extra calories to your daily intake. Also, staying hydrated will help prevent you from overeating or eating when you’re just thirsty.
Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
When selecting food, choose nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals without excess calories. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet. These foods can help you feel full and satisfied while controlling your calorie intake.
Practice Portion Control as a Lifestyle
Portion control for seniors is most effective when it becomes a long-term lifestyle rather than a short-term diet. By consistently practicing these tips, you’ll develop healthy eating habits that will benefit your overall health and well-being.