How Do I Portion Control For Weight Loss?

how to have self control with food
How to have self control with food

I had to have weight loss surgery to learn how to portion control. Even WITH gastric bypass, I still had to learn it. But the real question I didn’t realize was actually, how to have self control with food after I portion controlled.

As gastric bypass patients get farther away from our surgery date, this gets harder to do. We either stretch the pouch, or we eat more slider foods (the kinds of food that slips right through the pouch).

So, I had to figure this out. And FAST!

No way was I going to go through life-altering surgery and then eat through my tool. That was my biggest fear.

And so what I’ll do is answer these two questions for you to really give you what you came for, even though you’ve only asked one.

How Do I Portion Control?

  • Cook foods where protein is the star and fiber carbs/vegetables are the supporting characters. This will help you achieve the feeling of full on smaller portions.
  • Buy multiple small containers in the portion size you want to achieve, with lids. (Aim for containers the size of your palm, or even half that size! These glass ones with snap on lids are pretty awesome. Things have to be dishwasher AND microwave safe to last in my house…

  • When you cook dinner, scoop the portion into the container for tonight and serve everyone.
  • Then, immediately scoop all the left overs into the other containers. Snap the lid tight, and put them in the fridge.
  • Include these portions in your meal planning for lunches over the course of the week, so you are less inclined to eat them tonight. Let everyone else know they are for lunches, too.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after your meal (unless you’ve had gastric bypass, then only before your meal) to fill the spaces
  • Eat a small salad (only with balsamic or olive oil based dressings) before or after the meal (unless you’ve had gastric bypass, then listen to your restriction and practice making the portions big enough so you are full).
  • Practice your self care routine after dinner to signal to the brain you are full.

But you can learn how to portion out your foods, and still end up binge eating. So, then we have a new question.

How To Have Self Control With Food?

See, we can make 6 portions out of one normal bowl. But, how do we keep from eating all those 6 portions in one sitting? Or going back for even more after we’ve tucked the leftovers away in the fridge?

It’s a different question, with some different tactical steps.

Step 1 – Portion out your food. Try to keep it half the size of your palm (“That’s not enough!” Your brain will scream.)

Step 2 – Get something near you to satisfy your other senses, like essential oils or smelly hand sanitizer or a fluffy blanket. Grab a stick of gum.

Step 3 – Eat slow, and think about what you’re eating. Take tiny, dainty lady bites. And really make the effort to chew slowly. (I still wolf things down. I’ll be practicing this the rest of my life).

Step 4 – Listen to your stomach. What does it actually FEEL like? Are you feeling full? Have the actual hunger signals stopped yet?

Step 5 – When you’ve finished your portion, engage your other senses.

Smell the things you gathered. Touch the textured items.

Tell your brain “We will eat again, but for now, this is enough.” Your brain will protest… loudly. Fight it off with the gum if the urge is too much.

I’ve literally watched my hand reach for the food, as if I wasn’t controlling it, and I had to yell at myself to stop. “You” are not “Your Brain”.

Sometimes “You” have to take control in ways people who don’t fight addiction can never understand.

Step 6 – Set a timer for 5 minutes, eat again only when the timer goes off.

You’ve promised your brain that you will eat again, and you’ve set the timer. Likely, you have more food available that you portioned your smaller, step 1 portion from.

In 5 minutes, you will allow your brain to eat another half the size of your palm portion.

Step 7 – Increase the timer by 1 minute at every meal, until you are spacing 6 palm sized meals 3 hours apart, 3 times a day.

Don’t let yourself get so hungry that you cannot control it. Be the one in control.

Step 8 – Follow your self-care routine for after dinner to help control the night time binge.

Related: How to Stop Bingeing at Night: My 8 Step Night Time Routine

Practice In Order To Have Self Control With Food

This is the way… and it’s going to take a lot of practice. The good news? I bet you’ll be eating meals from now until the end of your story.

There’s plenty of time to practice and get it right.

You’ve only got yourself to be accountable to here, so if you mess up don’t be hard on yourself. Just keep trying until you get it right.

Or, you could get gastric bypass like me, and STILL have to learn this. But have intense pain and dumping syndrome when you get it wrong.

Either way is the right way. There is no wrong answer.


Make eating intentional. Work at it like you’d work at creating any habit. The things we want take intention, the things that just happen are usually the things we have to work hard to fix.

I’ve lived my own life letting things just happen. And then complaining about how I always have to work so hard to get things to go right.

Yes, when I let go of my intentions, the Universe pushes me around like a ship lost in a storm.

Take back your control over your life. Go toward your goals with intention and purpose.

It’s not the easy answer, but it’s the answer that will solve the actual problem.

Happy weight loss! <3

Related: How To Stop Failing At Weight Loss


For most of my life I was overweight. In my 30s, I became morbidly obese, tipping the scales over 330 pounds. After trying and failing at every diet, I decided to get gastric bypass RNY weight loss surgery. Since 2016 I have been living a much healthier life, I hit my weight loss goals, but more importantly, understand weight loss now. I am determined to share what I now know.

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