For anyone trying to lose weight, eating the right amount of food can pose quite a challenge. A wide variety of relatively inexpensive, good tasting food is available almost everywhere; in fact, it’s hard to get away from. There are fast food restaurants featuring super-sized meals and drive through options on practically every corner. Pizzerias tempt us with coupons, buy one-get one deals, and free delivery. Food markets – big and small – lure us in with can-can sales and free samples. And at work, free food occasions happen on a regular basis.
We no longer have to spend most of our day hunting and gathering food as our ancestors did. It’s quite the opposite; we have to work very hard to get away from the overabundance we are faced with on a minute-by-minute basis in today’s toxic food environment. So, what’s a health-conscious eater to do? Here are a few simple techniques that are sure to help you choose portion sizes that support a healthy weight.
Have a plan. Decide ahead of time what, when, how much, and where you will eat. This will minimize your chances of making poor eating decisions. For example, imagine you arrive at work one day and are welcomed by a spread of bagels with all the toppings, but you already ate breakfast. Without a plan, you eat a bagel and feel guilty. With a plan, you walk away or take a bagel and save it for tomorrow.
Eat before you eat. Start your meal with a filling appetizer such as a salad topped with vinaigrette, low-calorie soup, or cut-up fresh fruit. This way you take the edge off your hunger before eating the more calorically dense main course. You’ll end up feeling satisfied with less.
Fill your plate. Start with a smaller plate and fill it up. It’s common sense; a smaller plate holds less food. And your healthy portions won’t look too small when they are filling the whole plate. This technique satisfies your psychological need to get enough food. The same principle applies to bowls and glasses.
Divide it before you eat it. Think of the protein and starch items on your plate as side dishes. For example, fill half your plate with broccoli, a quarter with chicken, and a quarter with pasta. This will provide you with a healthy balance of food and leave you feeling satisfied – with less calories.
Pre-portion tempting foods. Dipping your spoon right into a pint of ice cream or reaching your hand into a bottomless bag of your favorite chips is just asking for trouble. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re not paying attention. Rather than eating straight from the package, get out your scale or measuring cups, serve yourself one portion, and then put the rest away.
Slow down and decide. When you eat too fast, you can end up consuming more food than originally intended. Try to make your meals last at least 15 minutes and give your body a chance to feel satisfied. Then wait awhile and go back for seconds only if you are still truly hungry.
Don’t be a victim of portion distortion. Take charge of your eating by learning how much you need to eat each day to lose weight and then follow through by measuring and weighing your foods and beverages. Don’t kid yourself. If you’re not losing weight chances are you’re overeating. Remember, even healthy foods can cause weight gain.