So in my last post I talked about fad diets, and that one of the signs of a fad diet is either eliminating a certain food or foods OR focusing on one food or food group.
One of the big reasons I use portion control and balance is keeping that I can eat anything as long as the amount and the balance is right. Something I learned from Richard Simmons is that if you totally eliminate a food from your diet that you like, that is the food you are likely to binge on. If you say “I can never have ice cream again”, one day you say forget it and sit down with a quart of Hagen Daz and a spoon!
Healthy eating means you are able to eat anything but you have to maintain 2 things – balance and portion control. The two actually go hand in hand. If I am going to a dinner where I know I may over do it like Thanksgiving or Christmas, I use a portion control plate like the one shown. Would I use it at a friends house? Absolutely. It might look a bit weird but it is my health I am watching and if this is the tool I need to use then so be it. As you can see, it divides the plate in 3 groups, and in the balance it should be. Notice that vegetables should be half the plate with starches and proteins each being one quarter. What you probably can’t tell from the picture is that plate is also smaller than a normal dinner plate. This also helps keeping the portions down, and the last big thing is that you only fill the plate once, and please don’t try to go for the world’s record in how high you can pile it, because that doesn’t help you in the long run
Portion control and balance (along with exercise) have been my two biggest tools that have allowed me to lose 180 pounds so far. I have learned a few tips that I would like to share with you today.
1. The smaller plate. As I mentioned, my portion control plate is smaller than a normal dinner plate,but even when I don’t useit, I use what used to be called the bread and butter plate. What you may not know is dinner plates have gotten much bigger over the year. Some years ago I managed a thrift store, and we often got antique dishes donated. My staff who sorted the donations said “This set doesn’t have any dinner plates” but what they didn’t realize is that what we now call a side plate or bread and butter plate was the original size of dinner plate. This picture I found on line shows how much plate sizes have changed in even the last few decades.
2. Accurate Portion Sizes. I remember attending a workshop with a nutritionist on the subject of portion sizes, and she had all this plastic food to show us the sizes we SHOULD be eating as opposed to what we normally eat. It was shocking to see the real sizes. Such as? Well, a cup of rice is about the size of a tennis ball. A portion of meat should be the size of a deck of cards or the palm of you hand. How much peanut butter should you put on your bread? The size of a golf ball. What did I learn? To start using measuring cups and spoons and in some cases a kitchen scale. I am a big fan of cereal in the morning. What do most of us do? We just grab a bowl and fill it up. Look at the label on the cereal box. What does it say is a portion? Measure that and put it in a bowl. You will be shocked. I now use a small bowl for cereal simply because it looks like more. Sometimes a visual trick like that is helpful.
3. When dining out – consider getting a share plate or a couple of appetizers to share. My wife and I do that when we dine out and we are often surprised that a couple of appetizers shared with maybe a small salad is plenty. One word of caution – watch which appetizers you get because appies are often not the healthiest things on the menu. Try veggie plates (go easy on the dip) and things that are not deep fried or covered in sauces. If you do have an entree, ask them not to use sauces and ask for any salad dressing to be served on the side.
4. Snack time. I am not a sweets person. I am more partial to salty snacks but every now and then I WANT CHOCOLATE! What I do is buy a bag of the mini bars and put them in the freezer. When I want chocolate, I just take out ONE small bar. If you buy chips or those type of snack, buy them in portion sizes. Get the small bags or what they call lunch box size. If you want to save a little money you can get the big bags and then portion them into Ziploc snack bags. There are also now many more small portion snacks like all the 100 calorie bags. This does not mean that because it is only 100 calories you can have 4 because now it is a 400 calorie snack.
5. Trigger foods. This kind of ties to tip 4 but if there are foods that are real triggers for you – like potato chips for me. The best tip is just don’t have them in the house.
6. At work. Keep some portion controlled healthy snacks in your desk or locker. If there is a machine, it is probably not stocked with healthy options. Take your lunch. Besides saving tons of money on eating out, you have much more control over food you prepare.
7. Slow down. This may seem like a weird tip in terms of portion control, but portion control is about how much you take in. It is a well known fact that it takes your brain 20 minutes to realize the stomach is full. That’s why after Thanksgiving dinner, we feel more stuffed than the turkey. I heard it described as “eat like a Parisian”. This means eat like people do in Paris and other parts of Europe. Slow down, savour the tastes of your food. Enjoy the time spent with friends. Talk and relax together. I will also say PUT DOWN THE CELLPHONE. Besides being rude to the people you are dining with, it makes for distracted eating and you may not be aware of how much you are actually eating.
8. Treat yourself occasionally. This may sound counter intuitive but hear me out. If you are going to have a treat, make it a good one. If you are going to have chocolate, make it a good chocolate. I am partial to Lindor myself. Eat it slowly. Enjoy it. This goes with the idea that no food is bad, and that it really is about controlling the amount you eat.
Until next time – have a healthy and happy day!
Your weight loss buddy, Neale Bacon