Session 2:
Eating the Foods You Love

Do I have to give up my favorite foods?

Usually not. In fact, sometimes trying to go “cold turkey” is unrealistic option because depriving ourselves of something makes us want it all the more. So in many cases you don’t need to cut out a food entirely, you just need to cut down on your portion sizes. On the other hand, if you find you are just unable to make strategies like this work, then it’s more effective to avoid those foods completely. We’ll talk about avoiding dangerous foods later in this session.

Smaller portions

You might already know that average serving sizes at restaurants have expanded enormously over the past 20 – 30 years.


CDC Time to Scale Back


And that’s not just for foods. The average drink size has also more than doubled.

But here’s something you might not know: the expanding portion size problem is lurking inside your home. For example, the average dinner plate is about 70% bigger than it was 30 years ago!

Studies have shown that the larger our plate, the more we eat. So to limit how much you eat, start using smaller plates and cups.

Another helpful tip: We only remember the first bite and the last bite of the food we eat. Everything in between is quickly forgotten.

Here are a few more ideas for how to reduce your portion sizes of food and drinks:

  • Don’t eat out of a large bag or bowl and avoid “family style.” It’s too hard to keep track of how much you’ve eaten.
  • Eat a small amount of healthy fat at the start of a meal; it will help your hunger go away faster.
  • Focus on your food – the way it tastes, smells, looks, and sounds.
  • Try not to read, drive, or watch TV while you eat.
  • Eat slowly. Try putting the fork down in between bites to slow your pace.
  • A lot of us were raised to feel guilty if don’t eat everything on our plate. It’s time to flip that upside down. It’s ok if you don’t eat everything.
Portions on Nutrition Facts Labels

Pay close attention to Nutrition Facts labels on your beverages as they can be rather confusing. For example, here’s the Nutrition Facts label on a 20-ounce bottle of soda pop. It says that one serving is 8 ounces. It tells you that there are 2½ servings in the bottle and it lists the calories in one serving as 100 calories. To figure out the calories in the whole bottle, multiply the calories in one serving by the number of servings in the bottle: 100 times 2½. So if you were to drink the whole bottle, you would take in 250 calories.

If you instead choose a 12 fl oz can or bottle you’ll drink 140-180 calories, for a savings of 100 calories from the bigger bottle. That’s the good kind of downsizing!

A picture of Health Coach Emily smiling for the camera
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN​

on May 29, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.