Cooking for one can be a challenge. Not only do you spend more money upfront at the grocery store, but you also have to make the choice to modify your recipe measurements to yield smaller quantities or cook a large batch of food and eat the leftovers. When you do choose to make an entire batch and have large portion sizes at your disposal, you run the risk of overeating. Here's how you can avoid overeating when you're only cooking for yourself.
Pack Food Up Right Away
Say you've cooked chicken and rice for dinner. Immediately after you've spooned out your dinner serving you should put the remaining food in containers and place them in the fridge. Doing so will limit your likelihood of going back for a second serving. When food is sitting out in pots and pans in the kitchen while you eat, it's all too easy to go back and serve yourself seconds. Put it away. Out of sight, out of mind.
Going back into the kitchen for second or even third helpings is especially easy after you've baked. It's easy to continue going back to pick at small portions of a dessert. Take your allotted portion and wrap up the rest. Consider freezing leftover baked goods to enjoy later.
Take Time Eating and Enjoying Your Meal
Whether you're cooking for one or cooking for five, it's always a good idea to take time eating your meal. If you're cooking for one and dining by yourself, your focus is more likely to be on the food in the absence of conversation. Eat slowly and give your mind time to catch up with your stomach. It generally takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that it's full. Consider reading a book or looking at a magazine while you dine by yourself. It'll slow you down.
Measure Your Serving Sizes
A great way to prevent yourself from overeating is to be aware of appropriate serving sizes. Especially in the case of side dishes like rice and pasta, it's easy to go overboard. Have a measuring cup nearby to scoop out your servings. The idea of what a serving size is in your mind is normally much different from what it is in reality.
Cook for the Week
Cooking an individual meal (i.e. one chicken breast with a small side of vegetables) can sometimes feel like it's hardly worth the effort every night. Get into the routine of using your cooking nights to prepare meals for the rest of the week. You're less likely to overeat if you know consuming that extra piece of chicken means you won't have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
The best way to avoid overeating is to modify your behavior so that you eat to fuel your body, not eat to be ravenous and consume everything in sight. Cook enough food for several meals, pack it up right away, measure your serving sizes and take time enjoying your meals and you'll be less likely to go back for more than you need.