One of the best ways to keep your body from becoming stressed is to feed it the way it wants to be fed. This process is not a matter of developing “will power” or dieting, but of finding out how your body is best able to manage food. Instead of focusing on what your brain thinks it wants, we need to learn how to listen to what our body tells us it wants.

Many people believe they will feel like they are starving if they eat less. This may be the case in the beginning, but your body will recalibrate. The best rule of thumb is to make gradual adjustments over time. To help you do that, I have created these seven steps for finding the perfect portion size for your body. 

Do not attempt to do all seven steps at once; rather, master step one before moving on to step two, and so on:

EAT FROM A PLATE - At the start of your meal, put your entire meal onto a single plate (or in a bowl), so you can see exactly how much you’re eating. Don’t eat out of containers, wrappers, cartons or serving dishes.

STICK TO WHAT’S ON THE PLATE - Learn to stick to what you’ve put on the plate. No matter what, resist going back for more.

LEAVE ONE BITE - As you get near the end of your meal, leave ONE bite on your plate. You could leave it for another meal, give it to someone else, or throw it out.

SWITCH TO A SALAD PLATE - Instead of using a large dinner plate for your meals, use a smaller salad plate, continuing to follow steps 1-3. In this way, you will probably eat about half as much as you did when you used the dinner plate. If, after 20 minutes, you still feel hungry, put half of the remaining food on your salad plate and eat it. Waiting that 20 minutes gives your body a chance to digest some of the food, making it easier for it to handle the next portion.

BALANCE PROTEIN, FAT, AND CARBS ON YOUR PLATE - Next, take a good look at WHAT you’re eating. If, for example, your meal is mainly carbs, swap out some of those carbs for protein and/or healthy fats. 

EAT EVERY 3-4 HOURS - Once you get to a point where you feel full when you eat only what is on your salad plate, eat at regular intervals of 3-4 hours – not the 6-8 hours to which so many of us are accustomed. Eating half as much, twice as frequently, is a far more effective way to digest food than eating three big meals a day, spaced out by many hours.