Many of us have gotten so used to overriding our bodies natural hunger cues and instead of listening to our body’s messages we just keep on eating large portions until the food on our plate is finished.
Firstly let me dispel the difference between a portion and a serving. A serving is the amount of food recommended on educational material (nutritional label) and a portion is the amount of food you choose at a specific mealtime, which is normally more or less than a serving size.
So, if you still struggle to listen to your body’s biological messages why not try these tips to help shrink your portions.
This is always a bad idea, as by lunchtime one feels extremely hungry and a roll with cheese and tomato is just not going to cut it, so one may choose to get extra snacks or something more comforting like a take-away.
· Not letting oneself get to hungry by eating smaller meals all day long aids portion control throughout the day. This will help prevent overeating at main meals.
· Snacking on low GI foods throughout the day, keeping blood sugar levels constant and avoiding hunger pangs.
Why are we eating so much?
Certain foods may remind us of our childhood, so when we get to eat them we may tend to overeat as it provides comfort. Also, certain foods, which are normally high in sugar or fat, can cause a release of the feel-good hormone Serotonin and may be associated with a brief good feeling.
Many people overeat because they either like the food, in the habit of eating more than needed, eating out of boredom, or using food as a coping mechanism to get through an emotional or stressful situation. Mindless rushed eating as a result of a busy schedule may be another factor why we may overeat.
Ways to manage mindless eating:
· Taking note of what may be causing oneself to overeat, and trying to change the habit of doing so may help.
· Realising that comfort eating may only make one feel better for a short period. Rather find other things that are not food-related that could help promote good feelings (e.g. exercise).
· Taking time out to eat food, even if you have to do it while waiting to pick your kids up from school, will help you keep more control over what and how much you are eating.
Weekend and Temptation
Most of us tend to forget about eating mindfully over the weekend. Normally we under eat throughout the day and save all of our food portions for when we go to a restaurant or friends for dinner. This may result in an over-consumption of kilojoules, as we feel starved by the time we do eat.
Other temptations may be that everyone is eating birthday cake in the office on a Friday so you might as well enjoy a piece too. Just because everyone is indulging on the snacks and sweet treats it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Rather choose one plate with one treat instead of munching through it all.
· Eating out doesn’t have to mean ‘pigging out’, try eating something before your main, to prevent cravings, like a salad or ordering a half portion or a starter instead of the main. One can also eat something small as a fruit and yoghurt before going to friends.
Shrink your portions with these few tricks
· Avoid the giant packets of food as most of us will finish the whole packet instead of dishing up a portion.
· Serving food on a side-plate or using smaller bowls.
· Using a plate that has a dark rim as most of us will only dish up onto the lighter part of the plate.
· Pack half your plate with salad and vegetables.
· Eating salad and veggies first, followed by the protein and then your starch.
· Share a starter or pudding instead of having it all to yourself.
· Take time out to enjoy your food, instead of doing it mindlessly. Wait at least 20min after your last bite before dishing up more food on your plate.
· Spoil your appetite by snacking on healthy foods throughout the day
Take control of your portions and take control of your health!
Lila Bruk is a registered dietician, nutritional consultant and freelance health journalist.
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