You need to learn to listen to your body, which has a portion control feature already built in.
They’re called hunger hormones, and they’re truly amazing. When your body needs fuel, a hormone called ghrelin will alert you: time to eat! So you eat. Then, a second hormone called leptin will inform you when you are sated: time to stop eating! So you stop eating.
Boom. Portion control, straight from the source.
But an emphasis on thinness, rather than health, throughout the 20th century has led generations of people to ignore these hormones, and the ramifications are truly life-altering. (And a major source of income to portion-control peddlers like 21-Day Fix and Weight Watchers. But that’s a rant for another day.)
When you restrict your food intake because a diet told you to do so, your body begins to produce more ghrelin. That feeling of always being hungry? It’s real. It’s because your ghrelin and leptin levels are out of whack. Your ghrelin is always pumping, and your leptin is never satisfied. They think you’re stuck in a desert or a famine or a forest or something! They’re just trying to help you find as much food as you can because WHO EVEN KNOWS when you’ll locate your next food source!
Well. You aren’t in a desert or famine or forest, and I know what will happen when you find your next food source: a massive binge.
The more you buy into marketed portion control, the further you move away from thinking for yourself (“do I even WANT these 100-calorie Oreos that taste like cardboard?”) and listening to your hunger hormones (“My stomach is growling but I’m not allowed to eat any more for the day.”)
Yes, portions have gotten larger over the years, from the drinks we buy to the dishes we order in restaurants to the plates we eat off of at home. But if we weren’t socialized to depend on external cues, rather than internal cues, to direct our eating, it wouldn’t make such a profound difference. When our hunger hormones are allowed to do their jobs properly, “I am full” is more powerful than “There’s still food on my plate.”
The way to stop binge eating is to listen to what your body wants, and honor it. Your hunger will change from day to day, depending on how active you’ve been or how you slept or where you are in your menstrual cycle or what virus your body is quietly fighting off or any number of other factors. You can’t know. You just have to listen.