12 Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know About Healthy Eating Habits

Keeping optimal body weight is essential for good health. Preventing obesity is proven to reduce the risk of premature death due to chronic illnesses.

However, this goal should not be achieved by restrictive diets or temporary regimes.

In order to achieve long-lasting results and improve your health in the long-term,   first, you need to develop a healthy relationship with food itself.

In order to stay healthy, you need to eat like a healthy person. In fact, a healthy person does not follow a specific or restrictive diet, but rather has healthy eating habits.

For example, routines that make it easier to control portion size and how much they eat.

If you have a problem developing such healthy eating habits and you struggle with different diets, this article is for you.

Here are 12 tips that will help you control your portions better.

12 Secrets They Don't Want You to Know About Healthy Eating For Women Controlling the size of your portions is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of food you consume, without restricting your dietary choices or getting obsessed with calories. There are many different habits and tricks which you can use to make it easy and sustainable for the long term and ultimately lead a healthier life. #healthyeatinghabits #lose weight #weightlossforwomen #nutrition

1. Measure your portions in order to develop an understanding as a start

First of all, you need to find out how big your portions should be, in order to keep optimal body weight.

Many people do not have the right idea about their needs and according to studies, this is one of the main reasons for lack of portion size control (1).

Further evidence suggests that a lot of people tend to underestimate the amount of their energy intake with food until they actually measure it (2).

This is why it is a good idea to weight your meals and check out the caloric density of the different foods that you often consume.

You will get an idea of your energy intake and where you should start, in order to reach your goals.

However, weighting every meal and counting calories are not sustainable for the long term.

It requires too much effort for most people and adds unnecessary stress.

It is a good idea just for the short term, in order to develop an understanding of the calorie content of different foods and eventually an “intuition” about the right serving sizes for you.


You should start controlling the size of your portions by weighting your foods and calculating energy intake until you develop an understanding of proper meal sizes.

2. Avoid eating from large plates or straight from a container

One of the most developed senses that we have is the vision. Our eyesight has such a large role in our lives that it even influences the amount of food that we eat.

Studies show that we use our eyes to count calories, not our stomach and we are much more likely to finish the meal when the plate is empty, rather than when our stomach is full (3).

This means the visual cue of a full plate can lead to unintentional overeating depending on its size.

A great idea in such cases is to use smaller plates and dinnerware. This will automatically reduce the size of your portions.

Of course, you should also pick more satiating foods and other tips to improve your feeling of fullness, otherwise, the cue will not work if you are still hungry.

Instead, you will simply take a second portion.

This visual cue also works when snacking.

Even though there is a normal portion size indicated on the package, if you start eating a snack right from the container, you will most likely finish the whole thing.

Scientific evidence confirms this and suggests you should reduce the size of snacks and don’t eat them straight out of the package, in order to avoid getting an excess of calories and body fat (4).


The size of the plate or package with food matters as we tend to eat everything we have served ourselves despite achieving satiety earlier.

3. Drink a glass of water prior to every meal

In order for a reduced portion to be sufficient for you, it also needs to be satiating.

One of the first tricks to increase satiation can be performed even before you start actually eating.

Such is the idea of drinking a glass of water or two prior to every meal. The effectiveness of this tip is strongly backed by evidence.

For example in one of the studies, twenty-four overweight and obese adults were given breakfast with either 500 ml water 30 minutes prior to the meal as a preload or no preload (5).

The energy intake during the meal was significantly less in the water preload condition as compared with the no-preload condition, representing an approximate 13% reduction in meal energy intake.

Another similar study with fourteen participants found the same results (6).

The study suggests this might be an effective strategy to suppress energy intake and possibly assist with weight management.

One study went further and assigned 48 overweight or obese adults to hypocaloric diets with either 500ml water prior to every meal or not for 12 weeks.

The “water” group showed a 44% greater decline in weight over the 12 weeks than the “nonwater” group (7).

A similar study was done on 50 overweight female participants, who were instructed to drink 500 mL of water, three times a day 30 min before breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

For 8 consecutive weeks, they had reductions in body weight, BMI, body fat, and appetite scores (8).

This makes drinking water prior to a meal a great aid in improving satiety and portion size control.

Some myths that consuming water before or during a meal dilutes stomach enzymes and disrupts digestion have been debunked by evidence.

Science suggests that the gastrointestinal tract is highly adaptive to any type of food consistency (9).


Drinking a glass of water prior to every meal can help with satiation and result in reduced caloric intake, better portion control, and weight loss.

4. Start your lunch and dinner with a salad

The second tip to improve satiation and the feeling of fullness is to add a salad prior to the meal.

It is again confirmed by evidence, such as a study involving forty-two women which either ate a salad prior to the main course or no salad at all (10).

It showed that when a low-energy-dense salad is consumed prior to the main meal, it results in a 7-12% reduction in the total amount of calories consumed (counting the salad in).

In order to keep the salad low-energy-dense, you need to limit the amount of dressing (such as oils) and cheese in it.

The reason for those effects of salad is contributed to two things – increasing the total volume of the meal, without adding too many calories and the high content of fiber in most vegetables.

Fiber is proven by science to help increase satiation and prolong the feeling of fullness after a meal (11).

Furthermore, adding a salad prior to the main course adds more color and variety to your meal.

Making a healthy meal more attractive is another tip to help you stick with your new habits for the long term.

Raw vegetables are also very dense in nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. The recommended amount is at least 400 grams of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.


Adding a salad prior to your lunch or dinner is a great idea to add more variety in your meals, add extra vitamins, and improve your satiety in order to control your portions more easily.

5. Fill up half of your plate with veggies

You can also reduce the energy density of your main meal by adding more vegetables to it, without sacrificing satiety.

Consuming more vegetables, in general, is shown by a systematic review of 23 studies to enhance weight loss and reduce the total amount of body fat (12).

According to the US department of agriculture (USDA), we should aim for specific ratios of the nutrients in our plate, in order to better control our portions (13).

For example, we should aim for having at least half of our plate filled up with vegetables and/or fruits.

The vegetables should be different than those you consumed in your salad. For example different beans, lentils, potatoes, mushrooms, grilled vegetables, etc.

The rest should consist of a quarter of protein sources and a quarter of grains, preferably whole grains.

The best protein sources are animal products, such as meat, eggs, dairy, and fish. We should aim for low-fat dairy and lean meat products.

The quarter of grains is going to be our main source of complex carbohydrates. Here we can include whole-grain bread and other similar products.

And finally, our fat sources such as different types of butter, oils, nuts, and cheese should not consist of more than a tablespoon on our plate.


It is important to learn the proper ratios that different foods should be presented on your plate. At least half of it should be vegetables, a quarter of protein and grains each and just a teaspoon of additional fat.

6. Choose more satiating foods, reduce the amount of unsatiating ones

We already mentioned one of the most satiating food groups – proteins.

Multiple evidence suggests that protein is great at creating the feeling of fullness, along with other benefits for improved weight loss (14).

Protein not only reduces the subsequent energy intake but also boosts our metabolism, by preserving our fat-free mass and increase in thermogenesis (15).

Another food that can help you control hunger and thus your portions are soups.

Studies show that if we compared solid food to its soup variant, the latter provides the feeling of fullness much faster and this results in a reduced total amount of calories consumed (16).

Another study showed that consuming soup prior to a meal reduces the subsequent and overall energy intake (17).

On the other hand, we should avoid foods that provide little to no satiety, especially the beverages rich in sugar.

Studies show that serving a caloric beverage with food increases the total energy intake of the person and might contribute to obesity (18).

Also, the size of the commonly used beverages is a problem, as people tend to drink large portions without any effect on their feeling of fullness.

Even beverages such as fresh fruit juices, which are considered healthy, can easily lead to calorie overconsumption because they are deprived of the fiber which whole fruits have.


Protein is amongst the most satiating nutrients and it should be present in every meal. Another great option is adding soup to your diet. On the other hand, sugary beverages should be avoided as they can quickly lead to overeating without any feeling of fullness.

7. Reward your self-control

Although you should reduce the amount of sugary and junk foods in general, as they are usually quite caloric and not very satiating, it is advisable to not exclude them completely.

In fact, if you try restricting your diet way too much, there is a higher chance you will break it and stop controlling your portions.

Instead, you can implement them, after you have achieved satiety with water, salad, and the main course.

This way they can act as a reward after you have consumed all the healthy foods and nutrients in controlled portions.

Rewarding yourself is a great way to create healthy and long-lasting habits.

Also, after you have reached satiety it is much easier to control how much sweets you consume.

You should focus on the quality of the taste, instead of the quantity, and savor it.

A great idea for a sweet is dark chocolate. Unlike other sweets, it is also very healthy as it has lots of antioxidants.

The health benefits are numerous, including a reduction in blood pressure and cardiovascular mortality, and reducing oxidative stress (19).


There is no need to completely avoid treats, such as sweets and candy, as long as you can control how much you will eat.

8. Make healthy food more accessible than unhealthy choices

Another secret to much easier portion control and healthy eating is to make healthy and satiating foods more easily accessible than unhealthy options.

A great idea is keeping sweets and junk food out of sight, for example in a locked cupboard or in a place that is harder to reach.

It is even better if you do not keep sweets in your home at all. This way you need to put in the extra effort to go to your local supermarket every time.

Increasing the effort you need to put in to eventually eat the junk food will reduce the chances of actually doing so.

On the other hand, if you keep healthy snacks such as fruits always in the fridge or somewhere else out of sight, you are very likely to forget they are even there.

Instead, put the fruits in a bowl and place it in a central place in your kitchen or living room.

You will notice that you will start eating much more fruits, and much less junk.


Making healthy food easier to reach and consume than unhealthy alternatives is a great way to implement another healthy eating habit in your routine.

9. Plan your meals ahead for the day or when going out

A great way to control your portions is to plan them in advance.

A study found out that amongst 40,000 people, meal planning was associated with healthier food choices and reduced incidence of obesity (20).

Planning your meals and snacks from the morning or even the previous day will reduce the risks for accidental overeating and weight gain.

Meal planning is much easier if you cook your own food.

According to studies, the more home-cooked meals we consume, the lower the risk to gain excess weight (21).

Furthermore, there are many healthy and high-protein alternatives to foods we all love, that you can prepare at home, such as protein pizza, pancakes, etc.

While it is a bit harder, it is also possible to plan your meals ahead when you are going to be eating out.

Many restaurants have online menus, which you can use to pick your foods and portions in advance.

Nevertheless, many restaurants are offering huge serving sizes, so it might be a good idea to ask the waiter to serve you just half your portion and pack the rest for home.


Taking the time to plan what you will eat makes it easier to avoid surprises and control your portions.

10. Be aware of the way you eat – eat slower and remove distractions

The biggest enemies of meal portion control are distractions while eating.

Such distractions can be your computer or TV for example.

The fact is that we are much more likely to overeat, while we are watching our favorite show and we have completely forgotten to stop eating when full.

Instead, avoiding distractions can help you be more mindful of your nutrition and ultimately prevent chronic overeating and weight gain.

As the data of some controlled trials previously has suggested, increased mindfulness ultimately results in a reduction of caloric intake and increased success in long term weight loss (22).

Also, it will help you eat slower and reach satiety faster.

According to studies, eating slower, helps with satiation and pleasure from food, while it is also helpful with reducing energy intake without restrictions on purpose (23).

Another study explains these effects by the increased synthesis of hunger-suppressing hormones (24).

Simply eating slower and chewing the food more, gives the brain more time to send signals for satiety.

Also, it gives more time to savor the food and thus receive pleasure without overeating.


Not paying attention to the food and your satiety when eating will prevent you from successfully controlling the size of your portions.

11. Do not use food to deal with emotions

Some people try to deal with stress and bad emotions by indulging in large amounts of food.

This is what we call binges in response to your feelings. It can occur even when the person is not hungry.

It helps the person to stop thinking about their problems or to stop being anxious about not taking any actions to solve those problems (25).

Usually, stress eating involves mostly unhealthy foods, since high-caloric and high-fat food provide much better taste and comfort.

This can put a person quickly into a huge surplus and result in a significant weight gain.

While food is indeed supposed to provide pleasure, we should rather focus on savoring the taste, instead of overeating.

There are other much healthier options to deal with stress and negative emotions such as sports, meditation, etc.

Do not indulge in self-pity if you overeat once. Instead, hold yourself accountable for your actions and simply go back into your healthy eating habits.

If you overeat once it is really no big deal, but do not do it twice in a row.

If you tell yourself that you already failed so you might as well keep overeating, this is what really stops your progress.

According to studies, people who aim for “perfection or nothing” are much more likely to fail on their journey for fat loss (26).

On the other hand, people who adjust around minor setbacks are much more likely to stick with their healthy eating habits.


You should not aim for “all or nothing” but rather leave minor setbacks behind your back and continue working towards your goals. Try managing stress in other ways than overeating, like participating in sports for example.

12. Keep a food diary

Finally, the best option to identify bad habits that prevent you from eating healthy and controlling your portions is to keep a food diary.

Such habits include snacking too much, lack of protein in the diet, lack of vegetables in the diet, or consuming too much liquid calories.

Evidence suggests that even simple tracking methods are effective in achieving successful weight management (27).

The study found a positive correlation between the frequency and consistency of food tracking with long-term success in weight loss.

Another study shows that food tracking in the form of food apps and other computerized methods is also an effective method for self-monitoring and leads to greater weight loss (28).

Keeping a diary will also help you identify your best options in terms of meal timing.

It is a great idea to eat at the same time every day because this way you will also experience hunger only during those hours and you will expect it.

Our bodies prefer routines, so you will easily adopt this trick if you are consistent with it.

This way you will decrease the incidence of unexpected hunger and cravings.


Keeping a diary can help you identify bad eating habits that you have not noticed before, as well as to create an eating schedule so that you can better control your portions.

The bottom line on portion control and healthy eating habits for women

Controlling the size of your portions is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of food you consume, without restricting your dietary choices or getting obsessed with calories.

There are many different healthy eating habits and tricks which you can use to make it easy and sustainable for the long term and ultimately lead a healthier life.

12 Secrets They Don't Want You to Know About Healthy Eating For Women Controlling the size of your portions is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of food you consume, without restricting your dietary choices or getting obsessed with calories. There are many different habits and tricks which you can use to make it easy and sustainable for the long term and ultimately lead a healthier life. #healthyeatinghabits #lose weight #weightlossforwomen #nutrition
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