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August 12, 2012

Portion Control

Self discipline requires practice

What it is


Strategy to self-regulate food consumption. 

Why it's Important

The ability to self-regulate is a by-product of understanding your needs and clearly defined goals.

The Problem

It takes time to learn what you need and even more time to understand why you need it.   

The Tip

Help your kids get to know themselves by allowing them to control a yummy food.

 Step 1

You pick the week.  Summer vacation is a great time as long as it’s 2ish weeks before or after a trip or summer camp.  Fewer distractions mean he’ll be able to “hear” his body signals best.

 Step 2

She picks the temptation.   Yes, she’ll probably go for the junk—GREAT!  For practice to be meaningful, practice with a temptation like Hershey Kisses.

 Step 3

He estimates the amount.  Ask him to guess how many Kisses he’ll need a day to stay satisfied and happy.  Sure, he might not need one every day, but it’s easier to calculate a week’s supply this way.  3 x 5 = 15 Kisses for the week.

Panic!!Relax! She won't be too unreasonable.

A tad overly generous is okay and you can help guide anything overboard.   

 Step 4 She simulates reality.  Have her portion the week’s supply in a baggie and put them right alongside all the other items in the cabinet. 
 Step 5

You let go.  He has control over his portion.  Eat’em all or ration’em—it’s up to him.  When they’re gone, they’re gone.  Encourage him to notice patterns, such as time of day, number eaten, activity just prior, and how he feels after indulging.

  Panic!!Relax   She might have one before dinner. 

As an adult she’ll need to be conscious of how she spaces mealtimes to prevent blood sugar dips.   You’ll get to experiment with meal timing to see if you can help her avoid the dips.



 Step 6

Both of you debrief.  At the end of the week encourage him to share what he observed about himself. You can prompt with a few questions but be mindful to allow him plenty of space for self-discovery.

A few questions to ask:

  • Did you really need some every day?
  • What was the biggest thing you learned?
  • What were the patterns you noticed?
 Step 7 Tweak and Repeat!  Update according to what you both learned and go for it again. 



Understanding the body’s signals means you can be conscious of your Self.

Less Junk

Overall junk food intake will likely decrease during the experiment.


Serving size and portioning are suggestions. Decisions about food, or anything else, should consider recommended guidelines but leadership requires independent decision-making. 


Debriefing is powerful!  Do so objectively and link observations to other self-regulating challenges, like spending money.

Promise Kept

We promise to teach our kids how to make good choices and to think for themselves.  To make good on the promise we have to allow them to experience both good and poor choices.  Deliver on this promise before they have free-rein over all their temptations.

Related Articles: Integrity, Responsible vs. Accountable,

Related Tip of the Week: Awareness, Make Sense,


Decisions Decisions, Self-regulating takes practice

Chime in >> What do you think?

  Email Lorraine with your question

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