Lunch with buddies @ 1pm. Italian joint on Main St.
There you sit. Aqua, red and orange linen pillows cushion the small of your back as you glance around the table at your four closest mates. As the bread rolls, salads and massive plates of spaghetti bolognese start to invade the table, anxiety hits. So much food. How on Earth will I refrain from swan diving mouth first into the feast?! No worries. You’ve mastered portion control with these expert tips.
1.) Perfect your eating technique: Take a bite, put fork down, chew chew chew x 30. In other words, eat mindfully. Remind yourself that it takes 20 mins for you to recognize how full you are.
2.) Use small utensils or chopsticks: tiny tools shrink the size of each bite.
3.) Use small dishes: replace your x-large dinner plates with small salad plates and bowls, or opt for Japanese dishes. Use small ramekins for high fat foods especially.
4.) Master mini meals: Aim for six mini meals per day. This method keeps your metabolism on fire, blood sugar stable, and keeps you hunger free and satiated all day. Easiest way to set up mini meals is to put it on a time table at first. 7am breakfast, 10am snack, 1pm lunch, etc… Stick to the schedule for a week and feel how energy you gain.
5.) Don’t drink calories: Sodas, juices, and alcohol are all empty calories. If you choose to imbibe you’ll need to really watch food portions. This doesn’t mean drunkorexia (drinking all your calories and not eating!) is the answer. The body needs nutrients from food to function at it’s peak. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a few bites of creme brulee then down a margarita
6.) Eat fruit and veg first: The order in which we eat can have a massive effect on appetite. Fill up on fruits, veggies and salads at the beginning of the meal and then wait to see how much bread you really have room for. The bitter vinegar from most salad dressings, similar to lemon, is great for calming the appetite.
7.) Avoid family style: I know I might get some rants about this one because family style meals are such a blast, but when large dishes are steaming in front of you it’s more tempting to go for seconds. Aim to spoon out your own portion and leave the rest in the kitchen.
8.) Miniaturize Treats: In Japan everything is individually wrapped. Even a single cookie. The idea behind the packaging is to encourage consuming less. You’ll also find that a typical dessert is 1/3 the size of an American piece. By no means should you deprive yourself, just shrink the size.
9.) SOS: Ask for Sauce On the Side. Drenched salads and fish floating in butter is common in most restaurants. When you are in control you pick the portion. Don’t worry about sounding too picky. This is your waistline, not your waiters.
10.) Lose the package: Fancying some pretzels or tortilla chips? Pour a portion in a bowl and leave the bag in the cupboard. When you have a full bag somehow your hand always manages to finish it off.
11.) Carry a guide with you: Print out this wallet size guide to portions from Web MD. You’ll quickly learn that 3 oz. of meat is the size of the palm of your hand and that a perfect serving of rice is the size of a tennis ball.
12.) Go for quality and presentation: Junk food might “taste” good, but really it’s the fat, sugar or processed filler that tricks your taste buds. Buy and consume excellent quality whole foods and you won’t need the gigantic amount in order to feel satisfied. Presentation is key as well. When the food looks appealing and tastes wonderful all your senses are satiated.
13.) Beware of peer pressure: The ultimate killer. Your buddies lick their dish clean while you pick at half your plate. Eyeballing your neighbors scarfing style will break down your discipline faster than anything. At this vital moment remind yourself that your body is different from your buddies. You don’t need to conform. It is a choice, not a requirement.
14.) Practice, Practice, Practice: Portion control is a habit, not a diet restriction. Think of it as an eating style that you are adopting versus a limitation. Diets do not work long term. Thus we have to change our mindset permanently.
15.) Use the 80% Rule: Eat until you are 80% full. This means eating slowly is essential so you can feel the stomach. So sit back, relax, talk, and enjoy your meal!
16.) Drink H20 before and after meals: A lot of times we confuse hunger with thirst. Drink a cup of water pre and post munching to help flush the goods through your system.
17.) Get Perspective: Read and learn about other cultures. Study after study scrutinizes the French, Japanese, and Mediterranean way of eating because it produces some of the healthiest, longest living people on the planet. In eating less you live longer! In the states we are sheltered from these countries methods. Reading is one thing, acting is another. Realize that you will be pushing against the norm by adopting portion control. You won’t fit into our supersize me culture, but that is okay! You have to stand your ground to make real lasting change.
Important Note: The size of your portions and food intake for the day should balance with activity levels. And yes it varies by day! I can’t tell you how many times I have danced for six hours one day, followed by a day of merely walking to and from the market. On active days your body needs more energy and nutrients, so be sure to keep exercise levels in mind and eat accordingly.
Cheers to a light, energetic, happy you. Swim upstream and love every minute of it!