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Many of us grew up in households where, as children we were required to eat everything on our plates before we could be dismissed from the table. I am sure that my mom had this rule to ensure we ate. We (my brother and sisters) never wanted to sit down and eat. There were too many trees to climb, ballgames to be played and neighborhoods to explore on our bikes. Eating was not a top priority for us.

In the adult world the mindset is different. Food seems to be front and center in every aspect of our lives. From the commercials on TV, to the fast food restaurants along the roadside, to the “quick, easy meals” in the grocery store. Most of our social & work functions are centered around food. We have become accustomed to eating and drinking throughout the day. It’s not surprising that trainers, doctors and dieticians are frequently asked about portion control.

Below are four tips that can help prevent binge and overeating.

  1. Never wait more than four to five hours between eating a small snack or a meal. It’s almost impossible to eat sensibly when you’re starving (or should I say hungry?). If you tend to forget to eat, set an alarm or leave a sticky note to remind you to eat.
  2. Make your meals a combination of protein and fiber. They both keep blood sugar levels stable and aid in satiety to fight off that ravenous feeling that leads to overeating.
  3. Drink water throughout the day. Hydrate more and you might end up consuming less food. It’s all too easy to confuse feelings of thirst for hunger. You end up consuming too much food when you really just need to hydrate. If it’s hard for you to sip on water try adding slices of fruit to your water.
  4. Fill up on fiber—especially veggies. When you’re feeling full, you’re a lot less likely to overeat. Veggies are packed with fiber and are low in calories, so load up on them.

In addition to these four tips, give these portion-control strategies a try and see what works best for you.

  1. Cut your food into very small, bite-size pieces. Do this with everything—salad, burritos, pasta, apples, cookies, etc. Researchers are trying to figure out exactly why this works, but they theorize that cutting up foods into multiple, bite-sized pieces may perceptually look like more food and, therefore, elicit greater satiation than a single-piece food portion.
  2. Eat off salad plates. They’re smaller than traditional plates and if you tend to overfill your plate, you’ll do less damage with a salad plate.
  3. Slow down. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to receive the signal that the body has received food. We all tend to eat quickly when we’re hungry and it’s easy to overeat before you even get close to 20 minutes.
  4. Plan in advance what you will and will not eat. If you go to your meal knowing that you’re having a salad for an appetizer and eating only half of your entrée, you won’t overeat your main course simply because it’s in front of you. Instead, you’ll be conscious and have a plan as to when you’ll stop eating.