Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips, Weight Loss

The Best Portion Control Hack to Avoid Overeating


Figuring out how much you need to eat to reach your goal (weight loss or just maintaining!) is just as important as choosing what to eat.

And portion control is usually not for the faint of heart, especially when your stomach is sounding like bad radio static.

Have you ever noticed that the apple and peanut butter you usually have as a morning snack is sometimes perfectly satisfying? Sometimes that same apple and peanut butter doesn’t do the trick at all and you’re starvin (for Marvin) for lunch before 11AM OR you eat the apple and peanut butter and dig your spoon back into the pb jar for just a little more. And, then more, and then more, and then more peanut butter.

What’s the deal?  How much of this apple and pb goodness should you be eating?

Today I’m gifting you with one of the best hacks to conquer portion control: Hunger Quotient (HQ).

Your HQ is one of the more difficult concepts to wrap your head around (yes, it takes mental work!) when it comes to healthy eating. But you can do this, you can learn this, it eventually becomes easy, and it does work.

It will be one of your greatest nutrition tools in your knowledge base (regardless of the food you eat) and get you closer to the healthy eater you were meant to be.

What is Hunger Quotient (HQ)?

Your HQ is a number on a scale of 1 – 10: how hungry are you? It helps you figure out your appetite at any given moment.


When you were born, you had the ability to eat when you were hungry and stop when you were full. As you grow, that ability sadly diminishes.

As an adult,  you eat for so many reasons other than true hunger, and sometimes you eat without any hunger. Yes, we’ve all done that!  Many times!

Stress, your previous meal experiences, emotions and hundreds of other factors influence your appetite.

Quieting all of this “noise” that has a say (a big one, kind of like your mother-in-law-chiming-in size) in what and how much you’re eating, connecting with your true hunger and giving an objective number to your readiness to eat is essential to eating the right amount and for the right reasons.

This may sound easy, but it takes loads and loads of practice. The pay off? A lifetime of weight management once you conquer this. I promise. I live by it.

Your goal is to always be between a 4 and a 6 on the HQ scale at any given time. {Tweet this}. 

You do not want to be starving or stuffed — you want to feel empowered knowing that you’ll be eating again in a few hours, so there is no need to overdo it at this meal, or under-do it at the next.

At the beginning of each meal, you should be aware of slight hunger as you tuck your napkin onto your lap, take a sip of agua and pick up your (preferably not plastic) fork.

You should not be ravenous.

Being an 8 or higher on the hunger scale makes it impossible to be in the moment because you’re so hungry all you can do is focus on getting food in your belly.  Translation: head first into the leftover Chinese food container.

Every opportunity to eat is an opportunity to eat just enough to be comfortable — what I call slightly satisfied.

When you are at a 4, slightly satisfied, you are “just right” because you have eaten just enough to feel content without needing to loosen your belt or take a nap.

This may sound simple, but it can be the most difficult part of healthful eating. Understanding your HQ forces you to slllooooowww down.

If you need a good example of a healthy meal that is properly portioned, try my Dijon Salmon. Chefd will even deliver the ingredients directly to your door, so you don’t have to use brainpower at the grocery store.

Then, before you dig in, take a deep breath and a few sips of water.

Turn off your brain, which is telling you “I always have room for dessert.”

Shut down those childhood thoughts telling you “I must clean my plate.”

It’s not easy to get into this mindset of shutting down these thoughts, but you can do it! Take a few minutes to eat your food mindfully and check in with yourself as you go.

Is the feeling of hunger going away? Are you enjoying your soup? Could you stop eating now and be satisfied, even though there are a few bites left?

There is no true answer to the question, “how much should I eat?” It changes meal by meal and day by day. But conquering this feeling of being slightly satisfied will change everything.

Regardless of whether you’re eating a kale salad or Fetuccinni Alfredo, if you never eat past this feeling, you’ll never overeat too dramatically. (I’m not encouraging the alfredo fyi, just sayin’.)

  • Taking a minute to shut the voices in your head off, and listening to your HQ will help you figure out how much your body needs.
  • Use your HQ and not calorie counting to monitor your food intake. You are not eating numbers, you’re eating food!
  • Mastering your HQ will likely help you eat the proper amount of calories to meet your needs.
  • Today you might need half the meal to satisfy your belly, and tomorrow you might need to finish your plate, plus an extra serving. This is normal.

Become confident listening to your body. Don’t give up on this. It’s your secret weapon to finding your healthy weight.


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