Any phrase with the word “control” in it automatically doesn’t sound like it’s gonna be much fun and honestly I don’t want to lie to you, what I am about to talk about here really isn’t all that “fun” per se. It is, however, super important and something I think gets overlooked way too often these days! In writing my last post (In Honor of National Nutrition Month) which was about the importance of nutrition in getting and staying healthy, the thought crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be doing justice to the topic if I didn’t talk about how crucial it is to not only eat the right foods but also to eat them in the correct proportions. As I got to thinking about it more and more, I decided there was too much to say on this topic not give it its own post. So here we are! Excited yet…?
One of the biggest culprits that has led to 1 out of 3 American’s being overweight is the fact that people simply eat more than they really to. Aside from reaching for unhealthy food choices too often we are also putting more food on our plates than our body requires. And who can blame us? We live in a hectic, fast-paced world where we are often eating on the run or being in pulled in so many different directions that what we are eating and how much of it just becomes an after-thought. Sometimes we end up skipping meals altogether and then later gorging ourselves because we are starving. Or we sit in front of the TV binging on our favorite Netflix show and before you know it an entire bag of chips disappears. And how often do we find ourselves going out to eat because it is just simpler than cooking after a long day? I actually blame going out to eat for a lot of our struggles with portion control and here is why…
Studies have found that when you dine out more often than not the portions you are being served are so much larger than what you really should be consuming in one sitting. Even simple items like pastries (think bagels, muffins, croissants) are hundreds, yes hundreds, of times larger than the actual portion should be when you get them from restaurants or takeout establishments. Let me say that again because I was shocked when I first found this out…they are HUNDREDS of times larger than the true portion should be. The same goes for full meals we go out to enjoy such as those delicious, heaping bowls of pasta you order for dinner or the overstuffed sandwiches you grab for lunch. After getting so many of our meals out or on the go how could we not have a warped sense of portions or be expected to have any clue what the correct portion size should be??
You may even go out to eat and think “Ok, I am going to be healthy and just order a salad.” Great. But beware, often times restaurants give you such a large portion of even salad that you are still taking in more calories than necessary. And don’t get me started on salad dressing and all the extra toppings like croutons, bacon and cheese they sneak in there. Before you know it, your “healthy choice” turns out to have just as many if not more calories than many other menu items you passed over with the intent of picky something healthier. A useful tip especially when eating out, split an entrée with your friend/date/companion or ask for a to-go container and put half of the meal away for later as soon as your meal is served.
I myself am a grazer, always have been. I like to snack so generally I eat about 6 small meals a day which I have found works really well to keep my hunger in check, my blood sugar stable and helps me avoid overeating because I am typically never really starving. Eating small meals throughout the day also is a great way to keep your metabolism going. Even though this has always been my eating MO, before I started paying attention to WHAT I was eating I would just grab for a bag of chips or a milkshake from the drive thru on the way home and before you knew it, I was ten pounds overweight and my cholesterol was through the roof. For me, it was about changing what I was eating and making sure I was eating those things in the right proportions. But if controlling how much you are eating is something you struggle with see below for some useful tips as to how to control those portions:
- Don’t Skip Meals – Not eating regularly will leave you feeling tired, affect every organ in your body negatively because they rely on sugar for energy to work properly, and totally derail your metabolism. You also quite often end up binging on unhealthy foods/empty calories when you are starving. You end up reaching or whatever you can get your hands on the easiest and quickest because you are just want to get food in your stomach. Portion control and getting in those 5 food groups goes right out the window when you are overly hungry.
- Pay Attention to Serving Sizes – When you are eating/using packaged foods be sure to read the nutrition labels. These labels will tell you the serving size and the servings per package among other important things such as the calories, calories from fat, and the amount of cholesterol the product contains. If you want to start getting a good idea what one serving on your favorite food is this is a great way to become familiar and educate yourself.
- Use Portion Control Containers – A great example of this are the containers that go along with the current program I just started:
These containers will take all the guess work out of what and how much of each food group you should be eating. Just fill the respective containers up with their matching foods and are you good to go! If you guys want more info on these containers in particular or the program I am doing follow the link or just send me a message:
- Measure Servings Accurately – Use measuring cups so you get to know proper serving sizes. A handy little way to think about theses sizes in terms of the 5 Food Groups (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) is:
- Fruit – 1 serving should be about the size of a tennis ball
- Veggies – 1 serving should be about the size of a baseball
- Carbs – 1 serving should be about the size of a hockey puck
- Protein – 1 serving should be the size of a deck of playing cars
- Fats – 1 serving should be about the size of a pair of dice
- Eat Veggies and Drink Water – Ok this one may seem a little weird or out of place but stay with me…both water and veggies will fill you up without a ton of calories. If you eat veggies or drink a cup of water before meals, you will be much less likely to overeat. Plus both those things are good for you so it’s a win-win!
- Just pay attention to your body! – You guys your stomach knows when its hungry and when it’s full. Listen to it and eat when you it needs fuel but stop when your body is telling you that you have had enough. This is the simplest non-diet out there and a concept that I truly believe in! Listen to your body…it knows what it needs, when it needs it.
A lot of the ways to control portion sizes are simple concepts but by no means does that make this an easy lifestyle change. Controlling HOW much we eat on top of WHAT we eat, however, is critical to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight and just good health in general. Paying more attention to portions and making an effort to not over eat can make such a huge difference in reaching your goals. All it takes is a little extra attention, some practice and in my opinion most importantly being in-tune with your own body!
Happy Friday yall!!