Do you fall victim to over-eating? We live in a world of fast food and “super-sizing” our meal portions, even in sit-down restaurants. When it comes to healthy weight loss, and learning how to monitor the amount of food and calories we actually consume each day, awareness and healthy habits are key. By using some easy strategies, you can quickly learn how to correct some bad eating habits, and eat less.
PORTION CONTROL (when eating at home)
As a nation our eating habits are poor on many levels, especially when it comes to portion control. We overload our plates, go back for second helpings, and eat too fast for our bodies to register fullness. To remedy this, start by putting your meals on smaller dishes. Try using bowls or salad plates, instead of your larger plates. Secondly, once you put your food on your plate, immediately pack-up any remaining food in food containers, and put into your fridge. It is far too easy to reach for second helpings, when food is displayed family style on the dinner table, or even left on the stove-top.
PORTION CONTROL (when eating out)
Portion control is actually easy to do when eating out. If eating out with your spouse or someone else, share an entree. Have the waiter either split your entree onto 2 plates before serving, or bring an extra plate to the table for you to divide up the food. This includes any appetizer, or dessert as well. If eating out alone, or if your dining companion doesn’t want to eat what you are eating, simply ask the waiter to put half of your meal in a “to-go” box and serve you half the entree. Or the waiter can bring a “to-go” container to the table with your meal, and you can divide the food accordingly and take the other half home for dinner or lunch.
THE 20 MINUTE RULE
It takes your body approximately 20 minutes, to fully register fullness or satiety when eating. The problem with most Americans, is that we eat on-the-go all too often, which has created the bad habit of eating too quickly, even when we are not time rushed. S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Put your fork or spoon down between each bite. Strive to chew each mouthful of food at least ten times before swallowing. Enjoy conversation while eating, so that you are not just mindlessly shoving food in your mouth. When you are halfway through a meal, stop and pause. Wait at least 5 minutes, and see if you’re still hungry before continuing to eat. The 20 minute rule when practiced, quickly shows us just how much we over-eat, especially when we are no longer truly hungry.
USING COLOR FOR PORTION CONTROL
Studies have shown that the color of your dishware, can actually increase or decrease your likelihood of over-eating. Eating off of blue dishes, followed by green dishes, actually help encourage you to eat less. On the flip side, eating off of red, followed by orange and yellow dishes, have been shown to entice you to eat more. This color scheme also holds true for restaurant colors as well. It’s no accident that a famous fast food restaurant with arches, has a red and yellow color scheme. They want you to eat a lot, and they want you to eat it fast to make room for the next group of people.
Yes, this might seem tedious at first, but food journaling is a proven technique in helping you to eat less. We easily dismiss and don’t count all those little extra bites of food we take each day. A few bites while we are preparing dinner. A few bites off of our kids plates. A forgotten candy bar from the vending machine at work. And let’s not forget all the liquid calories we intake each day. It ALL counts. By food journaling every single item that goes into our mouth, we quickly realize that we might be consuming a whole lot of extra calories that we might conveniently think don’t count. Ideally, you want to food journal for 3-7 days. This can be a real eye-opener. Carry your food journal around in your purse, car or briefcase, so that you can enter each item of food or beverage, and not forget. At the end of your food journaling period, give yourself an honest assessment. Adjust your eating habits accordingly, and swap for healthier food and beverage choices.
A FOOD SCALE
For those who prefer a more precise and measured way of controlling portion sizes, a food scale may be your best option. Research either online, or with your doctor or dietician, what the optimal number of calories are for you to be consuming each day, along with a breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fats. A good rule of thumb that everyone can use, if you don’t have a scale, or need to adjust portion sizes while eating out, is to use the palm of your hand as a portion guide. Our palm size is relative to our physique, and each person will have a slightly different measurement. Regardless, a single portion of each food major food item is usually about the size of our palm, or a deck of cards.
Another highly successful strategy to eating less, is to consume a healthy pre-meal filler. This means a salad, a cup of soup, or a large apple approximately 15-30 minutes before each meal. Studies have shown, that this is proven to help you eat less, make healthier food choices and average 200-400 less calories each day.
Eating less doesn’t have to be hard, it just means awareness and healthier eating habits. Once you instill these healthier eating habits, you’re much more likely to maintain better portion control, as well as keeping a balanced and healthy weight.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews